Medical marijuana: Ganjapreneur says Arizona easier to do business in than Colorado right now

brian cook.JPG
Brian Cook.
With all the controversy over U.S. Attorney John Walsh's letter criticizing part of HB 1043, a medical marijuana bill intended to clean up some of last year's regulations, local members of the MMJ industry are both confused and concerned. No wonder one well-known area gangjapreneur, Brian Cook, prefers doing business in Arizona rather than Colorado right now.

Cook's had some unpleasant experiences with Colorado bureaucracy during the past year. Last June, he accused two members of the Denver City Council -- Carla Madison and Doug Linkhart, now a Teapot Party-endorsed mayoral candidate -- of pushing an amendment that led to the closure of his Altitude Organic Medicine dispensary over a zoning change. He initially threatened a lawsuit against the city due to its actions, but eventually focused on licensing the AOM brand to other medical marijuana centers and fighting against an attempt to prohibit retail MMJ in El Paso County. In the end, voters turned thumbs-down on the proposed ban.

Altitude Organic Medicine-thumb-550x412.jpg
A photo of Altitude Organic Medicine's now-closed Denver location.
These days, Cook still lives in Colorado, where three dispensaries license the AOM moniker -- one in South Denver and two in Colorado Springs. (He also has a licensing pact with a dispensary in San Diego.) But he says "our headquarters is now in Scottsdale, and we're finding it advantageous to attach primarily to Arizona."

Why? "We look at the rules and regulations as being better than in Colorado," he maintains. "You can centrally distribute from one cultivation site in Arizona to a number of stores." In contrast, he points out, Colorado instituted the 70-30 rule, which requires each dispensary to grow at least 70 percent of its products, while obtaining up to 30 percent from other sources.

As such, Cook hopes to go beyond licensing the AOM brand in Arizona to "a management-company model. It'll be a streamlined retail presentation with mandated standards, where all the products will be tested scientifically and there'll be a little more control from the management-company side. The businesses in Arizona will be independently owned, but we'll be the management company, bringing in the how-tos, the point-of-sale software and unifying the retail presentation so you'll have the same products at all the stores. That way, you'll get the same experience."

Of course, Arizona presents other challenges -- such as limiting the number of licenses granted to 124. "It's highly competitive," notes Cook, who expects that seven to fifteen applicants will submit license applications using the AOM model. Applications are due between June 1 and July 1, he adds, with the state informing those it approves in August.

Although Cook would love for all of the dispensaries using the AOM approach to be blessed by Arizona, he admits this may be wishful thinking. Those that are, however, will benefit from "limited geographical competition," he says, "and you'll have all the rules in advance," unlike in Colorado, where businesses were already operating when regs were imposed.

"I'm proud of Colorado," he stresses, "but it's just the timeline of things. One place experiments, and the next place figures out how to do things by making fewer mistakes. And I think Arizona has learned from Colorado's experiment."

More from our Mile Highs and Lows archive: "Mile Highs and Lows: Altitude Organic Medicine."

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20 comments
Ralphie
Ralphie

The only reason AZ looks good is at it allows for a monopoly. Having patients being able to grow AND buy from MMCs is better for everyone. It is called competition when your competitor is across the street, and Coloradoans have benefitted from plummeting prices and easier access.

I feel bad for arizonans, because you look like you will rip them with $60 eighths.

Stella
Stella

Hey, Cook--hows business now that AZ's big business is on hold......

Druid
Druid

Most states are better for all kinds of business than Colorado. The Dems have created such an anti-business climate here, and keep in going year after year. Many pro-business pieces of legislation died on the vine. No wonder we keep losing jobs. But the Dems love that - the more of us who are on public assistance, the more of us will be dependent on them and sell them our votes. Idiocy at work - or, rather, on welfare.

daylate n'dollarshort
daylate n'dollarshort

More carpetbaggers coming to Arizona, yee-hah! It's sad that what should be about helping patients use the medicines that work best for them has become "cannabusiness" whose only green goal has little to do with the plants, but that's the American Way(TM), ain't it.

your father
your father

Kinda like when your grandad came to what was then Native American lands and proceeded to commit genocide on the native people , in the name of YOUR GOD !!

People like you disgust me !

Funny how cannabis has been used in human history for over 6000 yrs

Google...........Kaneh-Bosm

Learn that this plant is blessed by your God..........

OR Deny the word of your God...................................Your choice

Its called free will

Lastly

Gambling is NOT LEGAL under federal law.......Have you been to Las Vegas?

Prostitution is NOT LEGAL under federal law.......Have you been to Nevada ?

Remember REAL history G.Washington was a terrorist to the King of England !

Philo99
Philo99

Cook is exemplifies everything that is wrong with medical marijuana in Colorado. The voters approved a measure that allowed patients in need to grow their own marijuana, then money hungry scumbags like Cook jumped in and destroyed it for everyone.

I do think it's great that these dispensary owners are filing taxes, they are basically documenting the fact that they committed a federal crime that can result in life in prison. 2 more years till Obama is out and crooks like Cook are behind bars where they belong.

cannabisrealist
cannabisrealist

Your Proud of Colorado??? Business people like you took a dump on our state. What a f-ing joke-- if your so proud-then why leave--why not stay and help clean up the mess you all lobbied for?

Druid
Druid

Businesses leave because the Dems continue their anti-business campaigns.

Sampson
Sampson

No - this is someone for the CTI/ Timothy Tipton group. They are a group of about 5 people who give Colorado medical marijuana a bad name and a black eye EVERYTIME they speak.

Google "Timothy Tipton" MMJ Scam for more info.

cannabisrealist
cannabisrealist

AZ might look better for business1. monopoly's 2. if a dispensary opens within 25 miles of a patients address- the patient does NOT have the right to grow their own, forcing them to purchase from the dispensary.

Greedy rich white people in business are set up to do well. Patients take the hit. However--the FEDS do not care if you are in AZ. They have already threatened, Montana, Hawaii, CA, WA, MI, CO, NV, NJ. This is a NATIONAL attack on mmj. AZ is not immune.

Really?
Really?

Please take the hookah out of your mouth and Google how to use apostrophes correctly.

Alex C
Alex C

Arizona is learning from mistakes made in California and Colorado. Hopefully one day each and every state in the USA is on board.

cannabisrealist
cannabisrealist

No one has learned anything.

marijuana policy project (MPP) and billionaire george soros wrote the shitty language in ALL mmj states aside from CA, DC. EVERY state has slightly different orwellian BS that can be altered by the legislature, EXCEPT colorado, as we have it in our constitution.

ALL of the language nationwide is focusing on getting an elite group who control the 'special' licenses and monopolistic rules . soros and MPP, DPA, ASA, GW Pharma, Monsanto etc. all want in on the UNNECESSARY over regulation, licensing and sales. Money and CONTROL.

Billie Jackson
Billie Jackson

Wow. isn't this the case all over the board? it is always about a few central people gaining all the power and funding no matter the cost to the greater spectrum. As sex worker advocates we want decriminalization, however we dread the idea of government becoming a 'pimp'!

Michaelthornburg
Michaelthornburg

billie, great point. this has been going on throughout the history of this country, and it isnt just this industry. Multi national corporate interests have taken over since the civil war. The answer is not in violent revolt though, we must use logic and intellect to prove our point, name calling and disinformation are lesser handed tactics that only serve to fragment the opposition, kudos to all who take up this fight in the name of our broader liberties and the rights of our children!

Roy
Roy

if you are thinking of Chris Romer for mayor, he STILL thinks he was helping an industry, when in fact, he's pushed business out of state.

Ganjapreneur
Ganjapreneur

When 100 shares of a publicly company like AOM costs more in brokerage fees than for the actual stock, this proposes an interesting way for large-scale civil protest to memos such as US Atty Walsh's threatening to crack down on "those who invest in the production of marijuana..."

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