Beyond the Buzz: Kevin Fisher helped pioneer the industry
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Kevin Fisher made a gamble, and it paid off, putting him in the history books for the evolution of the marijuana industry in Steamboat Springs, as well as Colorado.
He and his friend Ryan Fisher were living their 30s and enjoying the typical Steamboat lifestyle when the cannabis rules changed specifically for medical marijuana.
“We’re a couple of guys without a lot of money — a couple grand in each of our bank accounts,” Kevin Fisher said.
Both the men were medical marijuana cardholders and grew for themselves.
“I was not a guy in town where if you needed a quarter they would call me up,” Fisher said.
In fall 2009, the Colorado Board of Health decided not to put a limit on the number of patients caregivers could grow marijuana for.
“Now, there is a business model that’s attainable,” Kevin Fisher said.
The medical marijuana floodgates opened in the state. The Fishers gave up their service-industry jobs and opened up Rocky Mountain Remedies, RMR, on the west side of town.
Two other dispensaries opened in Steamboat before the city enacted a moratorium that limited the number of dispensaries in the city to three. The city still stands by that number today.
The Fishers put profits from RMR back into the business, but they had more challenges ahead.
“We were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and then we had this local political process to go through,” Fisher said.
Voters ultimately rejected bans on dispensaries.
RMR took on more of an advocacy role as the state considered legalizing recreational use.
“We got involved in policy making pretty early on,” Fisher said. “We thought if you want this to flourish it has to be regulated like anything else.”
Fisher helped write the rules that state officials use to regulate the industry.
In January 2014, RMR became the first Steamboat business to sell recreational marijuana.
RMR’s success lead to some unwanted attention along the way.
On one occasion, Fisher got a phone call from his wife telling him federal agents were outside their home.
“I told her to tell them to go away,” Fisher said.
Fisher and his attorney met with the agents the next day.
Fortunately, he had a letter from the vice president of his bank explaining how money from the cash-only business was handled.
Today, Fisher personally chooses cannabis over other substances like alcohol.
“Cannabis is a way for me to not abuse my body but also to have that relief both physically and mentally,” Fisher said.
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