MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) - In January of this year there was only one medical marijuana dispensary in Mesa County.
Now, there are 19.
So why are so many shops sprouting up?
11 News takes an inside look at what these pot shops have to go through to open their doors.
This summer, Crossroads Liquor Store made their big move, setting up shop off of 24 Road.
But Manager Monty Haltiner says getting the liquor license to do so wasn’t easy.
“Just to move our liquor license, we had to get special approvals,” he says.
Any business that sells liquor needs to jump through many hoops.
“You have to go to a hearing in front of City Council to see if they want to approve your license,” Haltiner says.
Businesses must get approval from local homes and other businesses in the area of a new store or restaurant.
And once you get it, you’re still in the spotlight.
“Anytime liquor inspectors want, they can expect our place day or night,” he says.
However, one industry dispenses a drug requiring a special license, but does not face anywhere close to that sort of scrutiny. A medical marijuana store.
Gregg Davis, owner of THC with TLC says, “All I needed to open was a business license and a sales tax license.”
THC with TLC was the very first medical marijuana dispensary to open in Grand Junction earlier this year.
He says there was no background check, no petitioning to the City and no checkups from the state to make sure they are dispensing legally.
On top of that, landlords who used to worry about having a dispensary on their property are now only concerned about filing empty offices.
Davis says, “Now you can find any open space in town.”
And in the past 10 months those spaces have been filling up, there are nearly 20 dispensaries in town.
The Grand Junction City Council is considering a moratorium next month to put a one-year ban on any new marijuana dispensaries in the city.