EAGLE-VAIL - Heather Blaine has four family members with multiple sclerosis, and that's why she supports medical marijuana.
"I actually have four family members who were confined to wheel chairs because of MS," the 30-year-old Avon resident said. "I see what they go through and medical marijuana, that is one of the conditions it is approved for."
Blaine plans to open a dispensary in Eagle-Vail, where people with MS and other conditions can buy medical marijuana.
"My family lives in a place where it's still not legal," she said. "I just want to be a part of helping the industry move forward, helping other people like my family who might live in Eagle County."
Blaine hopes to open her shop by Sept. 10. She is leasing space in the shopping center just east of the Vail Daily office for the store. She also applied last month for a business license through the town of Avon.
Along with opening the dispensary, Blaine plans to launch a penny drive to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. She hopes to raise at least $3,000 by collecting money in jars at businesses across the county.
"Helping people locally is great but when you can extend that and help people around the country, that's even better," she said.
Blaine's shop would be the third medical marijuana dispensary in the Vail Valley. The New Hope Wellness Center opened last month in Edwards, and a Boulder resident plans to open a second dispensary in Edwards.
Blaine said she hasn't been advertising her shop yet, but she has been talking to potential patients.
"We're hoping we'll be able to host a doctor from time to time to help people get their cards," she said.
The Colorado Department of Public health and Environment issues registration cards to those who are legally allowed to use the drug, per doctor's orders, for medical conditions that the state defines. There were 69 card holders in Eagle county as of June 30, state records show. Colorado voters passed medical marijuana use in 2000.
Blaine said she plans to offer deliveries of medical marijuana. Also, she wants to provide information on other types of natural medicine. She's looking to hire people for part-time sales jobs at the dispensary.
Blaine holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She had been working for hotels in the Vail area when she decided to open the dispensary.
"That's why I'm so excited about this," she said. "It allows me to combine my interest in biology with my interest in helping people."
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