First Recreational Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Longmont City Limits
Legal recreational pot sales within Longmont city limits began Monday morning with Black Hawk resident Tyler Worley’s purchase of 28 pre-rolled joints from Boulder-based Terrapin Care Station at its new store at 650 20th Ave.
“That’s pretty cool,” Worley said about being the first person to legally purchase recreational cannabis from a retailer within the city limits.
A group of nearly 50 people, including Longmont elected officials, city staff and nonprofit leaders, celebrated the opening of Terrapin as the city’s first recreational marijuana dispensary.
It is the company’s sixth store in Colorado, and its launch Tuesday came with $20,000 donations apiece to five Longmont-area nonprofits as a show of thanks and of the company’s willingness to be a “good corporate citizen,” Terrapin founder and owner Chris Woods said.
“Terrapin looks forward to a positive and healthy relationship with the Longmont community, and as we continue to plant local roots we hope to forge a long-lasting partnership with our friends and neighbors,” Woods stated in a company news release.
Centennial State Ballet, Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, Longmont Community Justice Partnership, Out Boulder County and The Reentry Initiative are the nonprofits that received donations from Terrapin.
The company release stated the organizations “represent a range of causes that have a nexus to cannabis legalization, whether it’s restorative justice, the arts, helping with homeless outreach or advancing critical social issues such as LGBTQ rights.”
The $20,000 going to The Reentry Initiative — started more than two years ago by Deborah Simmons — will allow the organization to hire a part-time case manager to better assist women transitioning from prison back into public life. The nonprofit works to provide those women housing and support.
Simmons told the group gathered at Terrapin that incarceration rates of women, especially for nonviolent drug offenses, have skyrocketed in the last three decades, an assertion that is backed by the ACLU and nonprofit research group Prison Policy Initiative .
“Isn’t it ironic that the very product that landed many of them in prison with ridiculously long mandatory minimum sentences, is now the product that is producing the profit that is going to help them reenter successfully?” she said. ”... A legal cannabis market means new opportunity for our community.”
Terrapin is the second recent occupant of the building to offer plant-based products. The Longmont Florist business left it just more than two years ago to consolidate into one store at its current Coffman Street location.
“To be here at 9 a.m. and see this many people come out, Chris, this means you mean something to a lot of people,” state Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, said to Woods.
“Terrapin has shown time and again that they want to be a business partner who puts the community first. Their willingness to champion equality, justice and safety goes beyond words or dollars, it’s who they are as a company,” Singer stated in the Terrapin release.
Terrapin Care Station is the first of four retail marijuana businesses that will likely be up and running in Longmont in coming months since city staff in July approved permits for Terrapin, along with The Green Solution at 206 S. Main St.; The Medicine Man, 500 E. Rogers Road; and Yuma Way, 900 S. Hover St. Unit A.
Longmont staff in September estimated that revenues from the city’s 3 percent special tax on marijuana purchases — which will be levied on top of the normal 3.53 percent city sales and use tax — is expected to generate $290,000 annually when all four dispensaries are open.
Half of that amount will go toward the city’s affordable housing fund, and the other half will go into the city’s general fund since it hasn’t yet been earmarked, Assistant City Manager Shawn Lewis said.
“We are always pleased to see businesses growing and investing in Longmont,” Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce membership director Karen Stallard said. “In addition to the jobs and sales tax, Terrapin has been proactive in seeking out community partners and organizations that they can support. The chamber is proud to help facilitate those connections and find more partnerships in the future.”
Prior to Monday, three marijuana dispensaries — Native Roots on Sunset Street, Euflora on South Main and Green Tree Medicinals on North 107th Street — have operated just outside city limits or in enclaves of unincorporated Boulder County within the city, but city council last year voted 4-3 to lift the ban on pot businesses in Longmont proper.
“We have saying in Longmont: ‘You belong in Longmont,’” Councilwoman Bonnie Finley said to Terrapin leaders. “And I truly believe you do belong here. Once again, I welcome you on behalf of the city.”
Sam Lounsberry: 303-473-1322, email@example.com and twitter.com/samlounz .