Ken Gold: What are we trying to fix by changing marijuana laws?
I am concerned about the proposed Steamboat dispensary ordinance changes that would allow additional dispensary licenses as one issue, and secondarily, waiving the original requirements placed on the current licensees for vertical integration.
As a 42-year resident of Steamboat, I can remember moving to Steamboat and the downtown being quite a different assortment of businesses, many of which were family owned and passed on generation to generation. There was no Walmart back then nor Ace Hardware nor Staples, and those now defunct businesses (the family-owned businesses) were where we shopped and supported our local business people.
Progress is inevitable so when Walmart was first proposed, it was controversial, the community was growing and you could argue there was a need for Walmart and cheaper prices and access to more variety. But those small businesses: Ben Franklin, Boggs Hardware, etc. soon went by the wayside and were gone and with them some of our town character.
Today, the three dispensaries in Steamboat are in a different situation but with parallels. I am not aware of any increasing demand for more dispensaries. From what I understand, Steamboat’s pricing is in line, what are we trying to fix?
If anything, from what I see, the current dispensaries are surviving but not necessarily thriving because the costs of running those businesses, compliance, taxes and the requirement for vertical integration to grow 70% of their own product. These all impact their costs and net bottom line.
More importantly, the three existing dispensaries have become three good-sized and some of the most successful employers in Steamboat, employing perhaps as many as 100 local employees in their grow facilities. Again, what’s wrong and what are we trying to fix here?
If other dispensaries are wanting to open in Steamboat, have them open up facilities and add to our employment base as well.
Unlike Walmart back in the day, I don’t think anyone will argue that having more dispensaries in Steamboat would be a benefit to the community.
If one of the large corporate cannabis companies from Denver acquires one of the new licenses, they would have a financing and a competitive advantage without the requirement to grow their own products and who would survive — one of our locally-owned dispensaries where the owners have invested their time and money and hired locals or the outsider corporate Chain Store who has deep pockets but no local connection nor history here?
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