More dispensaries than Starbucks stores in Denver? So what?

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Back in the fall of 2009, trying to get a handle on the growing medical marijuana business, Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown visited Los Angeles, where he discovered that there were more dispensaries than Starbucks outlets. In January 2010, the Denver Post reported that there were now more dispensaries than Starbucks stores in Denver -- a statement that got a lot of international attention when William Breathes repeated it two weeks ago on NPR. But here's the real question: So what?

Wouldn't we rather have more dispensaries than Starbucks stores? After all, Starbucks outlets compete with all the mom-and-pop coffee shops that struggle in this city. Fewer Starbucks stores could simply mean more hometown java joints.

Under Colorado rules, dispensaries here are all essentially homegrown outfits -- and all compete with each other. They also took on spaces that landlords were desperate to lease after the economy went to hell and may have represented Denver's only real growth industry over the last three years.

For the record, within Denver city limits, Starbucks reports that it has 44 of its own stores, along with a certain number of franchises that it declines to reveal. Meanwhile, there are close to 200 dispensaries -- the numbers are always shifting, but the trend shows the total heading down as competition shakes out the market.

And when a space opens up, maybe a local coffeehouse will move in.

Read Patricia Calhoun's "Colorado politicos have all gone to pot!," from our November 26, 2009 edition, here.

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Semantics
Semantics

Dispensaries is an inaccurate term. You need to say Medical Marijuana Centers. Dispensaries are businesses run by caregivers, which were outlawed when HB1284 put a 5 patient per caregiver limit on dispensaries. MMCs are the new entity created by the General Assembly to replace dispensaries. They have no constitutional protection, are regulated by the DOR, and have video surveillance cameras hooked directly up to the police.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I maintain that "dispensary" must remain a neutral term, unfreighted with legal import.  Dispensaries were staffed by caregivers, then, overnight, all the caregivers in all the dispensaries became prospective MMC-budtender-applicants, but dispensaries remained places where cannabis was dispensed -- "Medical Marijuana Center" is a more specific phrase, and one that definitely refers to the General Assembly's unconstitutional marijuana distribution scheme.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

We continue to use the term "dispensary," too, Robert -- in addition to medical marijuana center. Thanks for the post.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

Patricia-  You really took the time to write this?  You are making over $4,000 per page a week off of MMCs that advertise with you.  They have probably saved Westword singlehandedly.  Why don't you cover something relevant?  Like:

1.  Denver asking for $8,000 per license (1 MMC, 1 Grow, & 1 Kitchen = $24,000!!!!!!)2.  Where is all the patient database money going? 120,000 x $90 = $10,800,000!!!!! per year!3.  The cameras in MMCs that are linked into the Department of Revenue violating rights4.  70/30 Rule creating a HUGE underground market 5.  Caregivers losing most rights thanks to MMIG lobbyists and Josh Stanley of Budding Health6.  Patients losing safe access through MMC bans

At least you have William telling it like it is with all these warehouse meds and other stories.  

calhounp
calhounp

My point -- which I must not have made clearly -- is that I have no problem with Denver having more dispensaries than Starbucks outlets, although the national/international media seems to think it's a scandal, judging by their response to Breathes mentioning that stat.

William will be online all afternoon Monday, and I encourage you to bring up your questions with him then.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

Patricia-I don't have any questions for William.  I just said he does a good job for patients.  I am calling you out for profiteering HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS off of Medical Marijuana and giving us pathetic articles like this one in return.  I bet you spent a whole 10 minutes on this article.  The Denver/Starbucks/Dispensary story came out in January 2010 iirc!  IT IS OLD NEWS.  Your point was clear, and we appreciate the sarcasm in your response, but we are calling on you to DO SOMETHING for an industry that is filling your coffers with cash.  If someone was handing me piles of cash, I would think that they would like to see something of that caliber in return.  See my above post for a few EASY ideas, and those are for free.  

You have an opportunity to help people and expose what has happened to us with these new laws.  You have the power, now do something meaningful with it.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

This is an industry.  You have been in the HIGH country for too long:).  William does an awesome job, but there are some REAL issues that need to be talked about.  Not just Starbucks vs Dispensaries. 

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Nobody is undercutting anything. There will always be plenty of ganja no matter how much we talk about. If you don't like my fire then don't come around, cause I'm going to burn one down.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

"Hats of Westword"!  Thanks for undercutting our efforts, H.C.C.  You are oblivious to the absence of articles about cannabis in Westword and you're awestruck by this blog -- you may be easily awed.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Marijuana is not an industry, it's a plant.  I think Westword is doing an awesome job getting high and writing about it.  Marijuana is a social drug, and to write about the same subject in multiple articles everyday can't be easy.  Hats of Westword, I will keep reading!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

We would like to see some real journalism done on the subject of medicinal cannabis in Colorado.  Westword is raking in much of its advertising revenue from the industry, so one would think that you would take more of an interest in the phenomenon which sustains you.  Not every story related to medical cannabis offers sufficient scope for a Pulitzer (e.g. the Great Legalization Debate), but the jockeying of all the venal players in this game should provide the necessary grist for at least one.  The history is accumulating and very little good writing on the subject has taken place on the subject.  You don't have to worry about the Denver Post snatching away this opportunity (ever), but what are you waiting for?  If Westword has any remaining journalistic aspirations, confront whatever lingering disdain apparently enables you to dismiss the significance of this major and timely story of great interest to tens if not hundreds of millions of Americans and people around the world, get off your can, and write the article(s) which could catapault Westword into the first rank of journalistic prowess.

Nicole
Nicole

Starbucks can take it's mundane, overpriced, over-hyped coffee somewhere else! There are so many great local places to grab a delicious cup of joe who needs that crap here?!  Oh yeah, I forgot about Highlands Ranch and the 'burbs......

Support the local guys!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Starbucks and cannabis are like love and chocolate, the winning combination for success!

rain
rain

Maybe there would be more Starbucks if they had strict limits on the number of customers they could serve? They might have to charge out the cappuccino for it, though.

Has anybody compared the number of pharmacies to the number of MMJ dispensaries? Seems like that would be a more direct comparison. Ah, but it wouldn't "prove" the political point of the anti-MMJ crowd, would it?

Did you know that there are more medical marijuana dispensaries than *newspapers* in this town? Gasp!

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