Medical marijuana makes it to Vail Valley |

Medical marijuana makes it to Vail Valley

Lauren Glendenning

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ‚–A medical marijuana dispensary opened in Colorado’s Vail Valley less than two weeks ago, and the owner thinks there are more so-called dispensers locally.

The town of Avon received an application for a dispensary business license Monday – the first of its kind the town has ever received. The town is reviewing the application and didn’t have any other comments about whether it could get approved, said Becky Lawlor, town of Avon spokeswoman.

Colorado voters passed medical marijuana use in 2000. 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 law defines. But the state does not regulate the dispensaries, said Mark Salley, spokesman for the department.

There are no regulations for dispensaries, according to the department’s Web site. There may be local ordinances that could impact the operation of a dispensary, though, according to the department – something the town of Avon is trying to figure out.

“We’re going to work through on finding out what needs to happen on whether to move forward or not,” said Patty McKenny, Avon’s town clerk.

Andrew Zweigbaum, co-owner of the New Hope Wellness Center, the new dispensary in Edwards, said his business is helping people and following the law “100 percent.”

Zweigbaum and his business partner, John Guarisco, met with attorneys to make sure they were following state laws. The men went to the county and found they didn’t need a business license, just a sales tax license from the state. He said the county did grant them permission for the business.

The state lists 69 medical marijuana cardholders in Eagle County, but Zweigbaum thinks there are more. In less than two weeks with almost no advertising, the New Hope Wellness Center has helped about 75 people with medical marijuana, all legal cardholders, Zweigbaum said.

“It feels good to help these people – that’s what (medical marijuana) is all about,” he said.

Zweigbaum said the laws are finally catching up with the medicine – that medical marijuana is a good medicine that can make a world of difference for the people who need it.

“I just believe that the time is right,” he said.

Since the state medical marijuana law, known as Amendment 20, doesn’t regulate dispensaries, those running them just follow the laws that are available.

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said the only time he thinks there would be something criminal happening with a dispensary is if they’ve distributed marijuana to someone without a valid state registration for the drug. As long as the shop went through the correct procedures for getting the right licenses, zoning regulations and anything else required, Hurlbert said they aren’t committing any crimes.

Elsewhere in the region, medical marijuana dispensaries recently open in Frisco.

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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