ASPEN — Aspen’s third medical marijuana dispensary is set to open this week as two local men prepare their Main Street location for business.
Brett Nelson and Josh Griggs, co-owners of Ute City Medicinals, plan to open their dispensary Thursday at 118 W. Main St.
Their opening comes about a month after two other dispensaries opened for business — Aspen L.E.A.F. (Locals Emporium of Alternative Farms) at 100 Spring St. and Cooper Street Apothecary at 520 E. Cooper Ave.
Aspen appears to have more dispensaries per capita than other communities in the Roaring Fork Valley that are allowing medicinal marijuana to be sold. Carbondale was the first town to have one when Colorado Mountain Dispensary, or C.M.D., opened in early July. Basalt got its first dispensary when one opened in the WIN Health Institute last month.
Nelson and Griggs said there will be enough business to go around because the number of registered medical marijuana patients is expected to grow significantly by the end of the year.
“There’s definitely a market,” Griggs said. “If people say there isn’t, they don’t know enough about it.”
According to the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment, which maintains the registry of medical marijuana patients, valid registry cards numbered 11,094 by the end of July, including 61 in Pitkin County.
Ron Hyman, the state health department registrar who oversees the medical marijuana registry, has predicted 15,000 people will be signed up by the end of the year.
“We’re betting on the growing trend,” Nelson said.
Nelson and Griggs, who have been researching and working on opening their dispensary all summer, said they expect registered users will grow by the hundreds in Pitkin County.
“There will probably be between 800 and 900,” Griggs said. “I know a lot of people who may benefit from this.”
The business owners have been building their client list and will have a licensed doctor available at their Main Street location to perform consultations. They also plan to affiliate with other doctors in the area.
The two proprietors will process clients’ applications with the state on their behalf.
“Josh and I will take all of your information and registration, and send it to the state,” Nelson said, adding clients’ information remains confidential.
The physician at Ute City Medicinals will perform a complete physical and determine whether a client qualifies. If a person doesn’t qualify, he or she will not be charged the $200 consultation fee. If a person is eligible to obtain a card certifying he or she is a legal medicinal marijuana patient, the $200 fee is paid to the doctor and $90 to the state of Colorado as a licensing fee. Once that is done and the paperwork is submitted to the state, that person is immediately a legal patient with temporary status. The state usually takes between six and eight weeks to issue the card.
Physicians do not prescribe marijuana, but Colorado patients must have the approval of a doctor in order to register with the state. The law permits patients or their designated caregivers to grow up to six marijuana plants and possess two ounces of usable marijuana.
Marijuana is used to relieve the nausea associated with chemotherapy and restore one’s appetite. The drug is most often used medically for relief of chronic pain. Other conditions that afford legal protection in Colorado include chronic nervous system disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
Griggs said many people who suffer from any of those ailments would rather use marijuana than be prescribed pain killers.
“It’s helping a lot of people,” Griggs said. “And the side effect is that it makes you feel good.”
Nelson and Griggs said they plan to set themselves apart by offering unique and organic products, made by local businesses, and providing a level of personalized patient care that’s unmatched by their competitors.
“We are caregivers, not a pot store,” Griggs said of the operation. “We are here to take care of the locals.”
Ute City Medicinals will offer locally-produced THC creams and massage oils, which are designed to act as anti-inflammatory treatments. Marijuana-laced edibles like rice crispy treats and Chex Mix will be offered and are prepared by a local baking company called “Butter.”
The dispensary also will have a product line that includes the sale of vaporizers, as well several strains of Colorado-grown marijuana.
Ute City Medicinals will sell its products at competitive prices, and will match what it’s going for on the street.
The dispensary is offering an offseason discount for locals that provides $50 off on the physician consultation.
Ute City Medicinals will be open seven days a week for members and by appointment only to non-members. The business can be reached by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Carolyn Sackariason