Starting Today, You Can Legally Sell Marijuana In Colorado

Wednesday marks the first day of legal recreational marijuana sales in Colorado. Audie Cornish talks with Ryan Cook, general manager of the The Clinic Medical Marijuana Center. The company has three growing facilities and six stores, one of which now offers recreational pot sales to those over the age of 21.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

With the new year comes a new era in Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is not only legal, pot can now be bought by anyone over the age of 21, for any reason, at state-licensed stores. Denver alone has dozens of stores and we reached out to one of them. It's called The Clinic, and it's open for business today.

I'm joined on the line by the company's general manager, Ryan Cook. And, Ryan, I've heard stories of people lining up outside of stores as if it was Black Friday. How's business?

RYAN COOK: We opened our doors this morning at 11 a.m., and we've seen hundreds of patients. We have probably, I would say, somewhere between 200 and 300 people in line outside our facility waiting to get in. So, yeah, it's been a busy day.

CORNISH: So, Ryan, I notice that you called your customers patients, and the full name of your company is The Clinic Medical Marijuana Center. You've been in business for four years. But what is it like in a store on a day when you have customers that aren't patients, right? I mean, is it festive? Is it strange? What is it like for someone like you who's been in this business for a while that's had so many restrictions?

COOK: So we do have both medical patients and adult use patients, you know, coming through the door at the same time. And, of course, today is a bit of a festive occasion. I mean, I've had the opportunity to, you know, walk down the hall and meet a lot of individuals. And, you know, it's exciting that people have come from all over to come and support us, you know.

I met a gentleman from Alaska who's on a cross-country tour and he made sure that his trip came through Colorado on January 1st to be a part of this. And I think, you know, that's the feeling that I get from the individuals that are here is that regardless of how long they might have to wait and what the challenges are, you know, at the end of the day, they wanted to be a part of this.

CORNISH: Now, one concern that people had and one thing that you guys will be dealing with as retailers, I guess, would be pot tourists. And describe some of the limits for buyers once they make a purchase. I know that for one thing, they can't smoke up in the store, right? What are some other limitations?

COOK: Sure. Well, you know, ultimately, if you are in state, you have a Colorado resident and Colorado ID, you are able to purchase one ounce of marijuana. If you are from out of state, you can purchase a quarter ounce. Because of high demand and lower supply, ultimately, we are limiting all individuals that come in that do not have medical marijuana cards to one-eighth of an ounce. So, you know, we're trying to slow that down so that, you know, individuals that have lined up here have an opportunity to experience it. But there's definitely a challenge with inventory.

CORNISH: And are there any differences between what you can sell your medical marijuana patients versus what you can sell to anyone else who walks in off the street today?

COOK: Well, really, the biggest limitation is in regards to edible products, from drinks to truffles, to, you know, cheese spreads and peanut butters, you know, you name it, these are what we consider medical marijuana infused products. So edibles have had the ability to have higher dosaging for our medical patients. But on the retail side, the regulation has been set to 100 milligrams. So, you know, I think it's very important for individuals while using edible products that they understand their dosaging. So it's helpful to be able to kind of limit it right now and step into this.

CORNISH: Ryan Cook, I understand that you got your new license from the state just yesterday. Describe the approval process. Is there any sense that this is more regulated than under the previous system for medical marijuana stores?

COOK: Well, yes, it's extremely regulated. And we've been going through the process of working through inspections at our growth facilities and also at our retail stores for the last several months. We have inspections by the building department, by public health, by the fire department, along with the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division that has now been kind of converted into the Marijuana Enforcement Division. These are law enforcement officers that oversee all aspects of our operation, from inventory tracking to the amount of cameras and the way that our safes are operated.

In fact, actually, with today being the first day, we have already had two different agencies come in for inspections, along with, you know, the Denver Police Department. They have 90 additional officers on duty here today in the Denver area. You know, it's honestly been a very good process. Working with these agencies, I mean, at times, of course, challenging as we're all trying to kind of create a path here.

CORNISH: That's general manager Ryan Cook. He's from The Clinic Medical Marijuana Center. He spoke to us from Denver. Ryan, thanks so much for speaking with us.

COOK: No problem. Thank you for having me.

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