COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado Springs voters said ‘no’ to legalizing recreational marijuana sales in the city, and now the future of the local medical industry could look different.
Local dispensary shop owners have seen a decline in sales this year, and it’s been one of the most challenging years yet. New legislation went into effect in January of this year, that limits how much medical marijuana customers can buy.
Now, local dispensary shop owners say the decision by Colorado Springs voters could shape how the industry looks in the next few years. That's why many shop owners were hoping ballot issue 300 and ballot issue 301 would pass.
“It definitely would have been a game changer for us,” said Troy VanOrden, the owner of Elevations Medical Dispensary located just off of N. Academy.
“I think we probably would have tripled, to five times in sales. So it was a significant difference for us. Actually, we had a sale pending based on recreational marijuana that now is no longer going through, so we definitely felt that a lot,” he added.
At VanOrden’s shop, sales have dropped by about 15%. He mentioned while his business did take a hit, it’s nowhere near as big as other businesses he knows about.
He said he knows other shops in town that have seen sales drop by about 40% this year, and the future of some of those businesses remains uncertain.
“For sure, they'll definitely be some closures. I know they were closing up until the vote, so they were already starting to close,” said VanOrden, who mentioned 2022 has been the toughest year so far, in his nearly eight years of owning the business. “Luckily we’re doing alright, and we’re going to keep operating as best we can with the laws we’re given.”
Jamie Delvecchio is the director of retail operations at The Green Source, where sales have also been down. The company has five locations, four in the Springs, and one in Pueblo West.
“It’s definitely something I’ve never experienced in the 12 years I’ve been in the industry. I’ve never seen things be so slow everywhere,” said Delvecchio. “People are running specials trying to pull in customers any way they can, just to get those people in the door to get that revenue.”
Delvecchio, like many others in the medical marijuana business, were hoping voters would pass the measures.
“It would kind of give us that fresh start where we've seen the hit the last few months,” said Delvecchio. “But I know that it’s going to impact a huge, huge number of stories and companies negatively.”
Delvecchio says now, she's worried about medical patients getting their medication, or people who don’t have a medical card, but still want to treat their ailments. She’s also concerned about what the future of the industry will look like.
“There were several people that said, ‘if it doesn't pass, we're just going to pick up and go because it's not sustainable.’ So you know, it’s unfortunate,” said Delvecchio.
Right now, the plan for many is to just keep pushing forward.
“It’s time just to regroup and come up with a new strategy and and keep on moving forward,” said Delvecchio.
This was the first time Colorado Springs voters had a say in in whether or not recreational sales would be legal in the city. The vote means that more than 100 businesses in town will continue to require a medical card from patients.
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