Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jan 2015
Source: Daily Sentinel, The (Grand Junction, CO)
Copyright: 2015 Cox Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Emily Shockley


The first recreational marijuana store east-bound drivers encounter 
after crossing the Utah-Colorado border on Interstate 70 had a steady 
trickle of in-state and out-of-state traffic during its opening weekend.

Shoppers holding driver's licenses from Colorado, Utah, Arizona, 
North Dakota, and Minnesota, to name a few states, came to Kush 
Gardens in De Beque after the shop opened its doors for the first 
time Saturday morning, according to employees. By Sunday afternoon, 
an estimated 300 to 400 adults had visited the store, according to 
Stephanie Swank, a bud tender at Kush Gardens.

"We've had lots of travelers - I would guess 25 to 30 percent from 
outside" Mesa County, said Swank, who commutes from Grand Junction.

Housed in a modest one-story building at 4550 U.S. Highway 6&24 
beneath a smiley face and green cross-clad sign easily visible from 
the interstate, Kush Gardens is Mesa County's first recreational 
marijuana store (Colorado Alternative Health Care in Palisade is 
limited to medical marijuana sales) and replaces Silt as the nearest 
town to Grand Junction with retail pot sales. Kush Gardens Operations 
Manager Jim Roberts of Grand Junction said Sunday Kush Gardens 
considered opening in Glenwood Springs after the company signed 
articles of incorporation in November 2013. But the business decided 
to locate in De Beque after the town of roughly 500 people voted in 
April to permit recreational marijuana retail sales within town boundaries.

Roberts said he expected about as many visitors from inside Mesa 
County as outside Mesa County, especially since Utah limits medical 
marijuana cards to epileptics only.

"Being the first store coming east on Interstate 70, I don't think 
anyone would turn that down from a business standpoint," Roberts said.

Roberts, whose mother, Dawn Palmer, owns Kush Gardens, said the 
business has had visitors from all over the country but received job 
applications from all over the world; one application came from as 
far away as Israel. But Roberts said many of the shop's 14 employees 
are from Mesa County.

In addition to adding to town, county and state tax coffers, Roberts 
hopes the business will offer more jobs in the area, particularly if 
Kush Gardens gets through another application process to cultivate 
marijuana in-town. Kush Gardens gets much of its marijuana, 
concentrates, edibles and related products from Denver for now.

A steady huddle of customers that oscillated between a couple people 
and more than a dozen mid-day Sunday perused, smelled and discussed 
the inventory tucked in glass display cases and a refrigerated case. 
One customer, who did not want to give his name because he worries 
about marijuana still being illegal to possess under federal law, 
displayed a sales receipt that listed how much of the sales tax on 
his purchase would go toward each government entity taking a slice of 
revenue from his purchase. He said the subtotal before taxes is about 
what he would spend to buy weed illegally, but he didn't mind 
chipping in extra for tax.

"Here, I have more selection and relative safety," he said.

Kush Gardens was the first marijuana retailer to get through De 
Beque's lengthy application process but three more businesses are in 
the application or planning process, according to De Beque Town 
Administrator Guy Patterson. Roberts said he has heard one such 
business may locate next door to Kush Gardens and another is 
considering moving in on the other side of the interstate, pending 
annexation of some land.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom