From the editor: A year of recreational pot |

From the editor: A year of recreational pot

— On Jan. 8, 2014, the first retail recreational marijuana shop opened on Steamboat Springs’ west side, marking a new era of legalized pot in Routt County.

Since that day, the Steamboat Pilot & Today news team has been covering Colorado’s social experiment with more than 50 marijuana-related articles published in an effort to chronicle a history-making first year of recreational pot. Our articles have ranged from the Steamboat Springs Police Department’s approach to enforcing the new law to the opening of a new vaporizer business offering customers a healthier high.

On the day Rocky Mountain Remedies opened its doors to retail marijuana sales, our reporters were there to photograph and interview the customers who lined up to be among the first to buy recreational pot legally in Steamboat Springs. The crush of customers remained strong throughout that historic first day of sales, and based on local sales tax figures, the local pot business is booming to the tune of $6.8 million in medical and recreational sales in 2014 with all three of Steamboat’s licensed retail marijuana stores now up and running.

As a news team, we talked about how the legalization of recreational marijuana might affect Ski Town USA and its reputation as a family-friendly destination resort, and we discussed the importance of publishing news stories that would document that impact.

Now a year later, the Steamboat Pilot & Today team is looking back on the past 365-plus days of legalized pot, and we’re publishing a five-part series of articles breaking down the first year and what it means for Steamboat Springs and Routt County.

The first installment of the “Reefer Review” publishes today. Reporter Matt Stensland launches the series by taking a look at pot tourism and the impact legalized pot has had on visitors vacationing in Steamboat and the businesses that serve them. We’re also publishing a first look at pot sales numbers for 2014, which were released for Routt County and Steamboat Springs for the first time this week.

In the second article of the series, which will to be published Friday, Feb. 20, reporter Scott Franz will focus on the business of marijuana. He’ll further dissect the sales tax data released for retail marijuana sales in Routt County and Steamboat Springs and also touch base with auxiliary businesses in town benefitting from retail marijuana sales and report on how employers are handling the issue of drug testing for marijuana.

For week three, reporter Ben Ingersoll writes about the budding marijuana business that is taking shape in Oak Creek. The small south Routt County town is in the process of becoming home to a number of marijuana shops and growing operations, and depending on the direction town leaders take, Oak Creek could be on the cusp of becoming a mecca for Colorado’s new breed of marijuana entrepreneurs.

Reporter Teresa Ristow is tackling the fourth week of the series by taking a look at how legalized marijuana is affecting children and teens growing up in the new “pot generation.” She’ll interview teens about their experiences, report on the latest survey results on teen marijuana use and focus on educational campaigns aimed at curbing that use.

The series will wrap up with an article on the future of pot. Will Routt County lift its moratorium on retail pot sales? Will Steamboat Springs issue more retail marijuana licenses? What challenges do pot shop owners face and what type of industry growth are they expecting?

It will take more than one series of articles and one year of reporting to truly understand the longer term effects of legalized pot on our community. So we intend to keep doing our job so that 10 years from now, 50 years from now, people interested in learning about the beginning of the legalized marijuana movement can find the baseline information they’re searching for in our archives.

I also encourage local residents and visitors to share their thoughts on how they believe legalized recreational marijuana has impacted Steamboat Springs, Routt County and the state of Colorado. Feel free to email me directly with your thoughts at I look forward to hearing from you.

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman

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