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Colorado pot dispensaries thriving as stiffer regulation looms

William Porter
The Denver Post
Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostNature's Kiss co-owner Colin Gordon lights up in the Englewood dispensary's smoking room. He's licensed to use the drug for his back pain and plans to open a second medical-marijuana outlet.
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By all appearances, the people lined up at the handsome oak counter with frosted-glass dividers could be in a quiet suburban post office.

Clerks with scales are answering customers’ questions; credit cards are being swiped.

But look closer at the merchandise and the brand names emblazoned on the glass display jars: AK-47, Flying Monkey, Purple Haze, Jack Flash, Kali Mist.

The shop is Patients Choice at 2251 S. Broadway. It is one of dozens of medical-marijuana dispensaries that have sprouted in metro Denver since Colorado legalized the use of pot by patients who hold doctor-approved state permits.

Cannabis clinics are providing relief for clients and serious profits for caregivers, the people authorized by the state to distribute marijuana to patients. Green isn’t just the color of the high-end pot that can sell for $350 an ounce. The scent of money in the air is as strong as the herb.

“We’re here for the long haul, not to fill our pockets and run,” said Jim Bent, co-owner of Patients Choice. “We want to make this a sustainable business.”

State and city governments likely will have something to say about that. Colorado legislators have announced plans to more tightly regulate the budding businesses. Court rulings are already tightening the rules for selling legal weed.

While dispensers anticipate stiffer laws – even in the wake of the federal government banning the prosecution of medical-marijuana users – the shops are thriving. And despite the media swirl and pot’s longtime status as cultural and legal whipping boy, business at the dispensaries is mellow.

Read more at http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13673556


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