Pubdate: Fri, 11 Jul 2014
Source: Aspen Times, The  (CO)
Copyright: 2014 Aspen Times
Author: Michael McLaughlin


The lines started forming during the week of the Food & Wine Classic 
and haven't slowed down since then.

Aspen's recreational marijuana shops have been booming since the 
tourist season kicked into high gear in June. According to Hunter 
Beaudreau, an employee at Green Dragon Aspen, recreational sales have 
at least doubled in the past month.

"We were slammed when we first opened here in March," Beaudreau said. 
"Our recreational sales were good and have only gotten better with 
all the tourists in town. For the recreational customers, the 
experience of buying pot seems more important than the prices."

There are three outlets selling recreational pot in or near Aspen 
right now: Green Dragon Aspen and Silverpeak Apothecary in town and 
Stash at the Aspen Business Center.

Two other outlets located in Aspen, Alternative Medical Solutions and 
Leaf Aspen, currently only sell medical marijuana.

Recreational prices fluctuate greatly, depending on where you buy. 
Keep in mind that every shop offers specials, so prices can change on 
a day-to-day basis. With prices that range from $52.50 to $122.50 for 
3.5 grams, or an eighth of an ounce, of pot before taxes, customers 
can spend anywhere from $400 up to nearly $1,000 for an ounce of pot, 
depending on where they shop.

"Our recreational prices depend on the strain and on how much we have 
available," said Stash owner Garrett Patrick. "We're a rec shop only 
now, but if we recognize one of our former medical patients, we'll 
give them a great deal at reduced prices."

That makes sense because medical marijuana is much cheaper than recreational.

Why? There are several reasons. The first answer is taxing - 
recreational marijuana requires a 10 percent pot tax on top of the 
9.3 percent in local sales taxes. There's also the influence of 
supply and demand. Many recreational outlets are still ramping up 
their grow operations to match the demand for recreational pot. With 
lower supplies and higher demands, retail costs have gone up.

With more recreational sales taking place, the medical marijuana 
supplies have backed up and several shops now have surpluses of 
medical pot, allowing for lower pricing.

There also appears to be a pot price war brewing in Aspen on the medical side.

Silverpeak Apothecary started lowering prices when it announced in 
March that 7 grams of any of its medical marijuana strains would cost 
only $40 to members. Green Dragon Aspen answered in June by offering 
its medical members the same amount for $30.

John Rogan has been an employee at Leaf for three years and has seen 
the medical prices drop, especially in the past three months.

"The price wars between Silverpeak and Green Dragon have affected us, 
as well," he said. "People come in now and expect to find 7 grams for 
$40. We now have ounces as low as $150, with our premium flower up to 
$275. The focus has gone from how good the bud is to how cheap it 
costs. I think our deals are great because our product is all pretty 
much top-shelf."

Rogan saw several Leaf customers not renew their medical-card 
coverage to give recreational pot a chance, only to renew eventually.

"Medical pot is such a better deal," Rogan said. "A lot of people 
still worry about having their names on a state registry as a 
medical-card holder, but the savings are incredible if you partake on 
a regular basis."

Alternative Medical Solutions has been selling medical marijuana for 
almost five years in Aspen. The dispensary offers sales every day and 
currently sells an eighth of an ounce of top-shelf pot for $20 to members.

"We offer exclusive specials to our patients," said Alternative 
Medical Solutions owner Ben Bayko. "We never charge more than $40 for 
an eighth. We see a lot of curious tourists that want to see our 
shop, but they aren't customers. Our customer base is mostly locals, 
and we try our best to take care of them with quality product and 
competitive pricing."

Silverpeak was the first outlet to sell recreational pot within the 
city limits of Aspen. Manager Michelle Salvati said when the shop 
began selling recreational in March, she noticed a drop in its 
medical sales, which spurred the $40 medical special.

Salvati said she thinks there are several reasons why Silverpeak has 
had such consistently good business, both medically and recreationally.

"We believe in the total experience at Silverpeak," she said. "We 
educate. We offer advice and recommend products on an individual 
basis because we work hard to know our customers. We also have great 
prices and feel we have the best product, but I would expect all the 
shops to say the same thing."

Beaudreau said Green Dragon's $15-an-eighth pricing is a great way to 
establish the shop in Aspen.

"We want to be the best shop with the best deal," he said. "We're 
like the other shops in town in that we're trying to provide this 
community with some great deals while we establish our customer base. 
We encourage our customers who qualify to look into getting a medical 
card and save money. Face it: Medical prices are way cheaper."

Patrick said he expects the same thing to happen with recreational 
pot once the supplies match or exceed the demand.

"I'm not sure rec prices will get as low as medical is now, but they 
will eventually drop" he said. "Give it time, and the market will 
dictate prices as it always does, even in Aspen."


Pot prices in Aspen

Price bases on 3.5 grams unless otherwise noted. Prices do not 
include taxes. Every shop offers specials so prices can vary on a daily basis.

Silverpeak Apothecary

Recreational: $70 to $80

Medical: $40 for 7 grams, sold in prepackaged containers

Green Dragon Aspen

Recreational: $52.50 to $65

Medical: $15 to $20

Alternative Medical solutions (medical only)

Medical: $20 to $40

Leaf (medical only)

Medical: $20 to $35

Stash (located at the Aspen Business Center - recreational only)

Recreational: $52.50 to $122.50
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom