DENVER - Just a few months from now, Washington residents will be able to walk into a store and buy marijuana legally. In Colorado, they've been selling pot legally for more than a month, giving us our first glimpse of what we can expect when pot stores open this spring.
There's one store in Colorado that sells the most marijuana and has a huge growing facility. If Willy Wonka made marijuana, his factory would probably look like Medicine Man in north Denver, which has weed that makes you relax and sleep, and pot to make you giggle, which is what some people are actually asking for.
"I'm excited man, I love this," Jason Brookes said.
Brookes flew all the way from San Antonio, Texas just to smoke in Colorado.
"Today I'm legal in Colorado," he said. "I came so I can enjoy my smoke without being a criminal for the first time in my life."
Remember Willy Wonka's fizzy lifting drink? Brookes is buying the cannabis equivalent/
Medicine Man is the largest pot retail store in all of Colorado and they have a large assortment of marijuana products, everything from smokables to drinkables, and they even have THC infused medi-mints if you want to be a little more discreet. There is no magic flavored wallpaper, or candy trees but there are weed forests.
Just step behind the counter and you'll be in a world of Medicine Man's imagination.
They also have a large grow space, a 20,000 square foot complex devoted completely to growing marijuana.
"So this is the mother room, and this is how we carry on our next generation," Elan Nelson of Medicine Man said.
Unlike Washington, Colorado pot stores have to grow most of their own for now. All of them are converted medical marijuana dispensaries. There are a number of rooms with fans and high heat to simulate tropical conditions. Then there's a middle stage room. Plants in this room have been grown for about two months. Each stem has a barcoded tag on it, which is something Washington growers will have to do too.
Each plant's exact location can be traced from seed to sale and tracking them all is a full-time job.
"I enjoy being able to see the plants from birth to when they're getting taken upstairs," Amanda Roth with Medicine Man operations said.
Once the buds of the marijuana lead are harvested, they are trimmed. Finally, the pot is dried for about a week on racks, with each flavor and strain up on racks like flavored wallpaper.
And people keep filing in wanting a taste.
"On Day One, January 1st, 2014, our previous best day, we tripled those sales," Elan Nelson said. "On January 2nd we doubled those sales. Now every day, we're just above that previous best day when we were a medical marijuana dispensary."
The business decision to go recreational has exceeded the owners' dreams.
"I would expect the same thing to happen in Washington," Nelson said.
Medicine Man is a family-run business but wants to be a household name, the Costco of Weed they say. They might even expand into a Washington town near you.
"It's been a wild ride. It's been an adventure and we have a lot of happy employees, happy customers, happy patients, were really proud of what we've achieved," Nelson said.
The customers keep coming in for legal weed and edibles, including pot-infused chocolate bars.
"We're going to buy chocolate bars because we're going to play lazer tag tomorrow so we thought it would be interesting," first-time buyer Blake McCannon said.
It's like everyone here found a golden ticket hidden inside each package from Medicine Man.
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