Aspen’s first retail marijuana shop plans to open this month. Silverpeak Apothecary has been working on getting approvals from the City and Pitkin County. The business currently operates as a medical marijuana dispensary but, it’s tripling in size to meet the needs of a budding industry. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.
Silverpeak employee Zoe Higgins chats with a curious caller behind the counter at Silverpeak Apothecary.
"Good morning, what can we do for you? No, we’re not recreational yet. We’re hoping for early to mid-March," she says to the caller.
She says she answers 50 to 100 calls a day and almost all of them are inquiries about recreational marijuana.
"Tons of people are interested and everyone’s got some way to relate to what’s going on politically or maybe they have a personal story they just want to share and have a laugh. It’s cool to see a lot of people curious about what’s going on."
Jordan Lewis owns the shop.
"We think there’s going to be a tremendous amount of interest from the community and tourists based on what we’re seeing around the state and what we’re seeing here in town."
He thinks so many people will line up to buy recreational pot, he’s significantly expanding his downtown store. Part of the shop is under construction, but by June it’ll be three times the size of the old space. Lewis says he designed the retail environment to be free-flowing.
"We’re creating an open format, so there’s going to be lots of stand-alone stations, where people can gather around a table, speak with one of our guides, learn about the products, become familiar with vaporizers and the different edibles. We’re trying not to create an environment where you’re standing in line."
Lewis says education is key. That’s why he’s involved with the newly-formed Valley Marijuana Council. The group includes local police and the school district and, it’s aim is to tackle potential problems from legal pot before they start. Lewis says regulation creates a safer environment.
"Right now marijuana’s fairly readily available through the black market and they don’t card you, so when you come to Silverpeak, we’re going to make sure you’re 21, we’re going to make sure you’re educated. In my view, that’s a positive."
Besides marijuana, Lewis’ store also sells things like t-shirts, jewelry and other non-marijuana items. He’s confident his investment in legal pot will yield big benefits. He thinks it could be a $100 billion industry in three to five years, if more states make marijuana legal.
"I think we’ve already seen indications that this industry is much larger than predicted. The state is predicting $70 million in tax revenue. The early numbers are much more significant than initial estimates," he says.
He says his staff will grow to 30 by the end of the year. Already more than a dozen new employees have come on board. Silverpeak Apothecary could open as soon as Wednesday.