Ever since Jan. 1, media crews from around the globe have been reporting on Colorado’s new retail marijuana model.
Stories featuring long lines and giddy customers have dominated the news. But as his business inches toward the retail operation model, the owner of Eagle’s Sweet Leaf Pioneer medical marijuana dispensary anticipates a much more low key local opening.
“So far, it’s basically been happening in the city and that model is completely different from what we are anticipating,” said Dave Manzanares, owner of Sweet Leaf.
This week the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission launched hearings for the Sweet Leaf special use permit. The business is seeking approval for a retail marijuana operation adjacent to the existing dispensary located on Chambers Avenue in the Eagle Commercial Park. Manzanares has requested a second special use permit for a grow facility located on Marmot Lane that would provide product for the retail operation.
Eagle voters said yes
Last November, Eagle voters approved a ballot issue allowing retail marijuana businesses in town, limiting such operations to one such business for every 5,000 residents. Additionally, voters approved a special occupation tax on retail marijuana sales of up to$5 per transaction.
As part of the retail special use, Sweet Leaf is also requesting a special use permit for its cultivation facility. By state law, retail marijuana stores must grow at lease 70 percent of the product they sell.
Eagle town staff has recommended approval of both the retail special use and the cultivation special use, with a number of conditions. Town staff noted that regulations are already in place to strictly define the areas of town where both medical marijuana dispensaries and retail marijuana shops can be located. Sweet Leaf Pioneer has been in operation for the past four years at its Eagle site.
The conditions suggested by staff prohibit either the cultivation facility or the retail operation until such time as Sweet Leaf Pioneer obtains an operating license from the state of Colorado. The town will require a copy of that license.
Additionally the town will require an inspection from its building official to approve occupancy in the proposed location for the proposed uses. The building official also will inspect ventilation improvements to make sure they comply with requirements.
An annual review of the permit is proposed to ensure compliance.
Once the planning commission makes its decision, the group’s recommendation will be presented to the Eagle Town Board, which will have the final say about the Sweet Leaf’s retail and cultivation requests.
“I am glad we have the vote of the people, to tell us they support this use,” said Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick.
Manzanares said he hopes to have the special use permit procedure completed by mid-February, but that doesn’t mean a retail marijuana store grand opening will immediately follow.
“We we still have to grow the stuff. That’s what a lot of people have forgotten,” he said.