Business

Dec 23, 2013 7:49 PM by Andy Koen

Pueblo West shops rush to be first retail pot sellers

PUEBLO - Beginning on New Year's Day, adults in Colorado can legally buy marijuana over the counter without a doctor's note. There are two stores in Pueblo West hurrying to be the first in the state to sell retail pot.

"It's kind of been a wild ride here," said Mike Stetler of Marisol Therapeutics.

Marisol and the Greenerside West LLC are the first local businesses with state and county licenses to sell retail marijuana come January 1.

"This is big," said Greenerside owner Hank Borunda. "They're watching us all over the world to see what happens here in Colorado."

None of the surrounding counties have regulated retail pot, and Stetler thinks it could be a busy day.

"All the way from Denver all the way this way, there's nobody that's going to be open except for us here in Pueblo."

Borunda has hired security guards and hopes to sell out of his inventory.

"We won't be able to open till 8:00 a.m. but I'll be in here at 5:00 a.m.," he said.

Pueblo County issued five retail marijuana licenses this year and Commissioner Sal Pace plans to write up to ten more next year.

"We sure are hoping on raising some tax revenue from the sales of adult recreational marijuana," Pace said. "We believe that was the intent of the voters."

The licensing fees have already generated enough money for the county to hire a specialized marijuana enforcement officer.

"He's going to be watching all of these retail marijuana stores to make sure that they're following the letter of law," Pace said.

In the meantime, the shops are planning big celebrations for New Year's Day. Stetler said musicians, reporters from High Times magazine and actor Tommy Chong are all expected to be a part of the opening week festivities at his store.

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