VAIL VALLEY, Colorado - They sell pot brownies and glass smoking devices. They keep marijuana plants under lights. They court skiers with busted knees and locals with multiple sclerosis in Colorado's Vail Valley.In all, five medical marijuana dispensaries are currently operating in the Vail Valley, industry insiders say.And applications for two more dispensaries will come before the Eagle town planning commission Jan. 5.The question on many people's minds: will the pot shop trend take root or go up in smoke?When medical marijuana shops started to appear here this past summer, local towns took stands on them. Vail, Minturn, Avon and Gypsum do not allow dispensaries, citing federal laws forbidding them. Eagle allows dispensaries as a special use, but the shops have to get a medical marijuana permit, similar to a liquor license.With so many towns banning dispensaries, unincorporated Eagle County has become the popular spot for pot. Eagle-Vail and Edwards are home to the existing dispensaries. State law prevents Eagle County from regulating medical marijuana shops, county attorney Bryan Treu has said. County officials passed temporary zoning laws limiting where the dispensaries can operate.After existing on the fringes of the law for years, medical marijuana sellers are trying to prove that they're here for a legitimate cause: to help patients.Scott Ziegler, the owner of Holistic Healthcare Dispensary in Edwards, said medical marijuana helps with his Parkinson's disease. He wants to educate people about the drug's benefits."We've had some people say that's really helped with the pain," he said. "I had one lady who was addicted to Oxcycodone. I've gotten her completely off of it. She said I turned her whole life around."With heated sidewalks and a wheelchair lift, his dispensary caters to the handicapped."Out of the 90 patients we have right now, over 80 percent are over the age of 50," he said. "We don't sell to the people that are wanting to use it just to get high."One point of frustration for Ziegler is that the state does not inspect the dispensaries, even as the stores continue to proliferate."Right now, with the way the economy is, everybody is trying to get their foot in the door, just because so many people don't have an income any more," he said. "I think it's going to be kind of like the wild, wild west until they have somebody from the state of Colorado start monitoring them."Here's a look at dispensaries in the Vail Valley:
When opened: end of AugustWhere: 51 Eagle Road (at Highway 6 and Eagle Road)Phone: 970-949-7008Sells: Fifteen to 18 strains of medical marijuana, sweets (such as cookies) and tea made with medical marijuanaDetails: Specializes in "clones," medical marijuana plants customers can take homeAtmosphere: Lobby looks like a bit like a medical office, with some definite exceptions: Vintage record covers, local artwork and a large poster featuring marijuana leafs with the store's logo hang on the walls. One room houses marijuana.
When opened: Sept. 25Where: 0105 Edwards Village Blvd., unit C-104 (between Prestige cleaners and Bottle & Cork)Phone: 970-926-4408Sells: Twenty to 30 strains of medical marijuana, baked goods made with medical marijuana (such as brownies, lemon bars), glassware, massage, acupunctureDetails: In-house doctor, portion of the profits benefit children with cancerAtmosphere: An antique wooden desk and large flatscreen TV decorate the lobby. The back room boasts a large glass cases filled with fancy smoking devices.
When opened: mid-SeptemberWhere: 40801 Highway 6, Suite 215 (above Paddy's Sport Bar and Grill)Phone: 970-949-1887Sells: 18 strains of medical marijuana, candies, baked goods made with medical marijuana (such as ginger snaps)Details: Plans to develop healthy, savory foods made with medical marijuanaAtmosphere: Lounge features an L-shaped couch and leather armchair, occasionally with reggae music playing in the background. Vintage record covers hang on the wall of the bud tender's office.
When opened: About two months agoWhere: In the former Eagle County Sheriff's Office substation in the Edwards Plaza (below Asian Spice Bistro)Phone: 970-569-4202Sells: About five strains of medical marijuana, baked goods made with medical marijuana (banana bread, brownies), tincturesDetails: Lounge with wifiAtmosphere: With covered parking, heated sidewalks and a lift to carry wheelchairs up the stairs to the bathroom, the dispensary caters to the handicapped. The lobby features a large L-shaped couch and TV. Jars with free snacks greet customers at the entrance.
When opened: AugustWhere: 210 Edwards Village Blvd, B-110 (Edwards commercial park)Phone: 970-569-3701Sells: Twenty strains of medical marijuana, baked good made with medical marijuana (such as Chex mix, zucchini loaf), plans to develop quiche and ice cream made with marijuana.Details: Dispensary helps customers find other services, like grocery delivery or lawn care, at discount prices. Atmosphere: Colorful local art hangs in the lobby. Glass cases house baked goods and glass bowls. Lights hover over medical marijuana "clones."Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.