New recreational marijuana shop opens in Aspen, one more planned

by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

One new dispensary has opened for recreational sales in Aspen, while another existing medical marijuana shop is planning to move to a different location steps from the gondola and begin selling to the public.

Green Dragon Colorado Cannabis Co., located 400 E. Hyman Ave. in the Tom Thumb building at the west end of the pedestrian mall, finalized its paperwork on Thursday, and opened to the public on Friday.

Owner Ron Radtke got his city license last month, and received his state license last week. The store has been operating this winter as a medical-only dispensary, but now offers pot products to the public.

Aspen LEAF, a local medical dispensary since 2009, is planning to move from its current location in an alley off of Cooper Avenue to a new street-level storefront in the North of Nell building. While the business has not submitted its paperwork to change locations to local and state authorities, its owners have signed a lease on the new space, which is currently occupied by Denimaxx furs, LEAF co-owner Gideon Murray said on Monday.

LEAF hopes to open the new space, located on Galena Street, by June 1, Murray said. The dispensary is currently focused on finishing its grow building in Rifle, which should be ready for plants by May 1, with the first harvest two months later, Murray said.

The current LEAF location, located in a basement off the alley behind Johnny McGuire’s and Domino’s Pizza, is “horrible,” Murray conceded.

 Chris Council/Aspen Daily News
Signs in the Denimaxx store, located in the North of Nell building, advertise a 50 percent store-wide sale on Monday afternoon. Aspen LEAF, a local medical marijuana dispensary, has signed a lease on the space and plans to sell pot to the public in the near future.

“It makes you feel like you are doing a bad thing ... doing a bad drug deal,” he said of the current location. “We want to step up and step out, onto the street level.”

Murray added that “we couldn’t be more pleased” with the new site.

Colorado voters in 2012 legalized the sale and use of recreational marijuana to anyone over 21 years of age. The first recreational dispensaries in the state opened on Jan. 1.

At Green Dragon, more than a dozen different strains of cannabis are all currently going for $25 per gram, or $75 for an eighth-ounce, which is 3.5 grams. The business also maintains a wide inventory of edibles.

Silverpeak Apothecary, the first shop to sell legal recreational pot in downtown Aspen, has been open since March 5. Its cannabis prices range from $25 to $30 a gram, and $40 for a package of edibles (plus tax). It has been offering a discount of 50 percent for local residents who have a local zip code on their drivers licenses.

Located in a subgrade commercial complex at 520 E. Cooper Ave., Silverpeak is in the process of expanding into a neighboring space.

Murray, of LEAF, said prices so far in mountain resort recreational dispensaries are “a little bit egregious.” He said he wants LEAF’s prices to be competitive with the black market, where eighths typically go for around $40. 

“Our intentions are not to gouge the marketplace, because we can make a pretty nice profit by not doing that,” he said. “ ... I think the prices are absurdly high and I think that competition will drive them down.”