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The Changing, Prettier Face of Pot


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New plants are sprouting. Thousands have new jobs. People are inking TV deals. Why? Because millions of square feet of industrial warehouse are proving money grows on weeds.

The Growing Kitchen’s owner thinks they could go global. Karing Kind’s owner thinks they might be a billion dollar company. Talking to those in the biz, the word “billion” comes up a lot. Billionaires will be minted. Possibly a billion billionaires, with a billion dollars each. Again, why? Because Coloradans can now sell weed to almost any person on Earth.
“The customer base is now four billion.”

That’s Michael Elliott talking. He is a lobbyist, the director of the Marijuana Industry Group. He has a personal interest in being a booster for the weed game, so he’s hard to take completely seriously. Four billion is roughly the number of humans in the world over the age of 21. That number includes cockroach farmers in Bangladesh. It includes the Pope, Rick Santorum and your mom. And we all know, beyond a doubt, that pot smokers are only young, male and single. Right?
So be serious, Mr. Elliott. Four billion people are going to smoke Colorado weed?

“It could be,” he says. “How do we have any idea how big demand is?”

Dylan Donaldson, owner of Karing Kind dispensary, said he’s seeing an entirely new customer base since he started selling pot to the general public. Not just different individuals—most of his medical patients went elsewhere—but a different demographic altogether. More business people in suits and ties, more $40 haircuts, more Audis.

Forty percent of Karing Kind’s clients now come from out of state, from as far away as London and Qatar. Before retail, Donaldson sold a half-ounce of medical weed for $75. Now, he sells the same half-ounce for $240, and he can’t keep it in stock. The lines are often out the door. The owner of Karmaceuticals, similarly, said each month this year has been better than the last. The owner of Terrapin Station said he expects to pay $250,000 in taxes for March alone.
One of the biggest questions they all face: what do we do with all this cash?
And everyone wants to know: how big could it become?

Use increased with the introduction of medical marijuana in Colorado, after 2000. About 100,000 Coloradans told a doctor they needed a prescription to get high. They were among the only people in the world who could get high without worrying about the cops, though many had to remember to pretend to limp when they went to the doctor’s office.

But that’s changed. Now it’s as easy to buy weed as it is to buy a cup of coffee, and just as pleasant. At the retail marijuana shops in Boulder—there are more than six now—the buying experience is more reminiscent of a Zales jewelers than a liquor store.

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