denver-botanic-gardens-danielle-lirette-2016 (1)Danielle Lirette

The Denver Botanic Gardens spans 24 acres, with seventeen gardens showcasing plants that thrive in Colorado’s arid climate — and that’s only counting the main location on York Street. The Denver Botanic Gardens also runs Chatfield Farms, a 700-acre native-plant refuge and working farm in Jefferson County, as well as a conservatory for alpine plants and bristlecone pines on Mount Evans.

Those areas “reflect an ever-widening diversity of plants from all corners of the world,” according to the organization, while also focusing on local flora.

So why no hemp…or even marijuana?

the_green_solution_collins20171215_003 (1)Jacqueline Collins

Although cannabis and Colorado are inextricably linked in the minds of many outsiders, most of the state still bans pot businesses, according to new data from the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. Even so, over 550,000 pounds of cannabis were harvested throughout the first half of 2018.

While possession and personal cultivation were legalized throughout Colorado after voters approved Amendment 64 in 2012, the measure also gave towns and counties the right to ban dispensaries, commercial growing operations and other licensed pot businesses within their borders. So far, most of Colorado is still declining the green rush.

woman-marijuana-grower-marijuana-grow-istockiStock/cyano66

The Drug Enforcement Administration appeared to take a large step forward on Thursday, September 27, when it confirmed that it would reclassify Epidiolex as a Schedule V substance. The move follows Food and Drug Administration approval and classifies the marijuana-derived cannabidiol (CBD) medication under the DEA’s lowest restriction for drugs, so physicians and pharmacies can now prescribe and dispense it in all fifty states under federal law.

Despite the headlining news, the reaction in Colorado was a mixed bag, ranging from ho-hum to angry disappointment.

den_canna_20150731_lucysky_slentz_03Scott Lentz

No matter the plant’s legal status, Colorado has never been short of growers of cannabis — so out-of-staters looking to get into the business need to know what they’re doing. And Mike Meyer (without the “s,” so don’t confuse him with Austin Powers or the Halloween slasher) definitely did. He got his start in California, growing cannabis in his attic as a hobby while studying horticulture in college.

In 2007 he jumped into California’s medical marijuana industry, where he spent ten years learning about strain breeding and perfecting his plants. After moving to Denver in 2017, Meyer found himself heading the cultivation department of Lucy Sky Cannabis Boutique, which is about to have four dispensaries open under its umbrella. To learn more about the craft of growing cannabis both commercially and personally, we chatted with Meyer about his budding trade.

moffat-google-maps-screenshot-2018Google Maps screenshot

Moffat was a major cattle shipping center along the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad in the early 1900s, but over the past century the population of this town in southern Colorado dwindled, until it now holds barely 100 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

“I think they were counting the dogs and cats when they did that,” says former Moffat mayor Brian Morgan. “Now we need to figure out how to add more housing, because Moffat doesn’t have a lot.”

And why does Moffat need more housing? The small, sleepy town in Saguche County is expecting to welcome new faces now that its town board has approved plans for Area 420, a unique business compound that could bring nine different pot companies to Moffat — which will all share space.

reagan-yeomans-health-centerCourtesy of Reagan Yeomans

Colorado’s cannabis industry has come a long way since medical marijuana dispensaries started popping up a decade ago. The industry exploded with the start of legal recreational sales on January 1, 2014, and a boom in capital funding soon ushered in a more corporate era. Now more Colorado towns and counties are allowing retail pot sales than ever before, with consumers buying much more than bags of weed at dispensaries.

Reagan Yeomans has seen plenty of changes burn through the industry since she entered the field in 2010. The Colorado State University graduate and her business partner, Tiffany Goldman, haven’t opened a dozen stores, like some of their competitors; instead, they’ve chosen to grow their dispensary chain, The Health Center, at a steadier pace. Today it has two longstanding dispensaries in Denver, a wholesale cultivation brand and a new store in Boulder.

qweeeeeedLindsey Bartlett

The Marijuana Industry Group has helped the Colorado cannabis business develop into an awesome revenue machine that generates sales measured in the billions. But behind the scenes, MIG is embroiled in dueling Denver District Court lawsuits that pit the organization against Michael Elliott, its former executive director, in a fight that’s witheringly nasty.

Elliot’s complaint maintains that he was fired from his gig in June 2016 due largely to fallout from his rejection of sexual advances from a contract employee with the group. A few months later, he filed discrimination charges against the group with the Colorado Civil Rights Division — a prerequisite to a lawsuit, which was eventually filed in September 2017. But by then, MIG had already sued Elliott, arguing that he’d been sacked for misappropriating funds, among other things, and later retaliated by cooking up a fictional sexual harassment story that he then used in an unsuccessful effort to extort as much as $300,000.

vaping weedJacqueline Collins

Denver may be a leader in regulating recreational cannabis sales, but it’s hard to say the same about recreational cannabis consumption. Despite allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in town for over a decade and retail pot shops for nearly five years, Denver’s attempts to address social pot use have fallen just a few degrees above flat.

To be fair to Denver, the rest of Colorado isn’t exactly diving in, either, and neither are most of the other states legalizing the plant. Denver was the country’s first city to approve a program for issuing consumption licenses to qualified businesses, and one pot lounge is up and running, with another approved business on the way — but the program has its limitations. Approved by voters in 2016, the social consumption initiative was tweaked during its lengthy implementation process, with disputed location qualifications and restricted revenue streams added, to the dismay of the initiative’s proponents.

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