A handful of marijuana grow facilities in La Plata County quietly have gotten into the recreational business in the last few months.
County commissioners approved local marijuana regulations in July, and since then, three grow facilities – owned by Durango Organics, Acceptus Group and Hesperus Mountain Healers – have been approved.
A facility focused on extracting oil from marijuana plants, Southwest Extraction Technology, is getting close to approval after a hearing earlier in March.
Oil used in marijuana edibles and vaporizers can be extracted from marijuana using either butane or carbon dioxide, said Tyler D’Spain, co-founder and managing director of Aurum Labs, a marijuana testing facility in Durango.
The Acceptus Group facility converted from a medical marijuana grow facility to a recreational one. The Durango Organics facility was approved to grow both medical and recreational marijuana. These two facilities were the only ones eligible for a streamlined application process because they had an existing medical grow permit, said Marianna Spishock, a code enforcement officer with La Plata County.
“Since we already had our licensing, it made our process a lot easier and a lot quicker,” said Jason Barker, co-owner of Acceptus Group. Barker’s facility on Davison Creek Road was supplying his medical marijuana facility before he converted both his grow business and his retail. While running his medical marijuana business, he was required to grow 70 percent of the product he sold.
He said he decided to maintain his grow business, even though it is not required, to help insulate his business.
“If you rely solely on wholesale, you’re at the whim of the market,” he said.
But since he opened his shop – Colorado Grow Co. – on Main Avenue in January, he has not been able to produce enough marijuana to keep up with demand, and he has had to buy from the wholesale market to supplement his supply.
After the arduous process to open a medical grow facility, co-owner of Durango Organics Jonny Radding said it was a natural process to convert part of his grow business to supply his recreational business.
“It’s just become part of what we do,” he said.
Radding now is expanding his grow facility to meet demand from both his Cortez and Durango locations.
The owner of Hesperus Mountain Healers, a stand-alone facility, declined to comment.
However, Radding said he expects this type of facility will cause marijuana prices to fall in Colorado because they can supply any retail store.