In Colorado, medical dispensaries of marijuana are flourishing since the state decided to decriminalize use of the substance for medicinal purposes.
From Boulder Weekly:
Running a successful, growing business makes Boulder’s Jill Leigh a busy woman. While talking to a reporter in her ashen-blue office one recent afternoon, an employee came in and handed her a thick stack of mail, saying there were two more boxes where that came from. Leigh opened a few envelopes as the interview continued. Later, two other employees entered her office seeking her expert opinion.
“Jill, what do you think this is?” asked one employee, holding a fragrant fist-sized nugget of marijuana. The grower had named it as one strain, but the employees suspected otherwise.
“I think [the grower] got a Haze clone that was mislabeled,” one of the men said. Leigh inspected it for a moment and then agreed.
“I think it’s probably Haze,” she said. “Let’s bottle it as that and sell the product for $400.” The employees exited and Leigh turned.
“I hate calling it product. I never know what to call it. I don’t like calling it medicine because it’s not Western medicine,” she said. She put her elbow on her desk and rested her chin in her hand. “It’s an herb. A very, very effective herb.”
Leigh has two kids and an M.B.A. from Denver University. She also sells high quality marijuana for a living.
Leigh and her husband own and operate Boulder County Caregivers, a medical marijuana dispensary on Valmont Road and 29th Street in Boulder. The dispensary is one of more than 40 such operations that have sprung up in Colorado during the past year, and more open each week, said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000, when Amendment 20 passed with 53 percent of the vote, but for various reasons, only in the past year have dispensaries emerged from underground and started publicly advertising their wares.
Any use of marijuana is a federal offense. Though the state says medical use of marijuana is legal, in this battle, federal law wins.
The friction between federal and state law has created a booming industry in Colorado, with enterprising men and women stepping in to provide services physicians can’t. Doctors can’t prescribe marijuana, and pharmacies can’t stock it, so patients must either grow their own or purchase it elsewhere. Doctors can’t administer marijuana, so patients often depend on their primary caregiver for advice on how to use the herb. Many Colorado doctors fear federal reprisal for recommending marijuana, so specialized clinics dedicated to helping people become legal cardholders have opened their doors. Thanks to the Obama administration’s medically friendly statements, as well as a recent major victory in a critical rule-making hearing, dozens of businesses have sprung up in the past year alone to fill these needs. The rest of the state may be in a recession, but Colorado’s medical marijuana industry is thriving.