Colorado Springs, Co. city licensing records show that today there are half as many medical marijuana dispensaries in the city as there were two years ago.
Federal action, strict limitations, and financial hardships are only some of the reasons collectives have been driven out of the city.
“If the rules and regulations didn’t get them, piss-poor business planning did,” said K.C. Stark, a former dispensary owner who said he closed his business in favor of advising those interested in joining the industry.
At the peak almost two years ago, there were 169 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs, compared to the less than 80 that are still in operation today. According to city records, during that same time businesses that produced marijuana infused products such as salves or edibles dropped from 70 to only 15.
While the drop in dispensary numbers may leave less options for patients, the owners who have risen to the top and remain open feel like the industry is Darwinian in nature. Mark Slaugh, membership director for the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council explained, “It’s very difficult to be in this business, and if you have prior extensive experience and adequate business knowledge, then you have a higher rate of success. But the market is going to pick the winners and losers.”
Although Colorado’s medical marijuana law was passed in 2000, businesses did not begin operating so openly and prominently in the state until 2010, when the DOJ released a statement that many took to mean medical marijuana collectives would not be targeted under federal law.
Despite the overall reduction in the number of dispensaries, marijuana sales tax collections in December climbed 45.19 percent from a year earlier, to $98,153.
Many advocates believe that medical marijuana business owners are bowing out of the industry only to plan their return for 2014 when legal marijuana shops are allowed to open in Colorado.