Pubdate: Sun, 16 Aug 2015
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2015 The New York Times Company
Author: Stuart Miller
Section: Travel



Wineries and breweries should brace themselves for some unusual 
competition. Colorado, which legalized marijuana for recreational use 
in 2012, will get its first "weedery" in early 2016.

The $35 million project, Green Man Cannabis Ranch and Amphitheater, 
the brainchild of Christian Hageseth, is set to open in Denver. Its 
greenhouses represent a major shift because producers have largely 
cultivated marijuana indoors; there will also be a performance space, 
a restaurant, a rooftop bar, a gift shop and, of course, a marijuana 

Mr. Hageseth, who founded the Green Man Cannabis marijuana company 
and chronicled his adventures in the medical and legal marijuana 
business in the book "Big Weed," says he enjoys his own product but 
shatters stereotypes. He's an ambitious entrepreneur with a 
background in real estate, who sat down for an interview while 
visiting New York to meet with investment bankers.

Following are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Hageseth.

Q. How did you come up with the idea?

A. I was starting to build out our first grow and it was incredibly 
expensive. I thought, "This can't be the best way." We were growing 
indoors because marijuana had been illegal, so that's how it had been 
done. I started thinking about greenhouses and had an epiphany. I 
felt like Michelangelo when he saw David in the marble and just had 
to let him out.

Are you planning beyond Colorado?

I'm raising $100 million for a national weedery development fund to 
build our first five. We are looking at Nevada and Massachusetts and 
then California and Washington. I'm sure after we build ours someone 
else will build one too, so we're working on them very actively.

Why do you want people to visit?

People are so curious. When they visit our indoor grows they say, 
"Wow, I had no idea the plant was so beautiful," or "It smells so 
good in here." I can spend all day talking about marijuana. But it 
would mean more if you have 30 seconds of a personal experience where 
you see it, you smell it.

Can this help people overcome preconceptions about marijuana?

I have a lot of reasons to want to demystify marijuana. It's good 
business, but there are social justice reasons. We incarcerate more 
people in the United States than any country in the history of the 
world; we've turned it into a for-profit industry where people of 
color are doing time for drugs.

If I go on a tour next year will I hear about these political issues?

I am inviting people to these facilities to come in as guests. It's 
not about making statements about what's right or wrong. It's about 
putting marijuana back in nature and letting people make their own decisions.

You wanted people to get high at the weedery, yet they can't. Why not?

We are like a liquor store, not a bar. You can buy marijuana but to 
smoke you have to be in a private area.

So people who can drink at a winery - or at your rooftop bar - and 
drive home can't smoke on your grounds?

I think it's a matter of time before this changes. In the future the 
rooftop deck will be the smoking area.

Do you think marijuana will be legalized on a federal level?

Yes, and it should. We're on the leading edge of this, but it's baby 
steps right now.
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