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Some of the largest marijuana farms in southern Colorado are changing their roots.
Massachusetts-based Curaleaf Holdings, one of the largest marijuana companies in the country, recently agreed to buy Los Sueños, a 36-acre outdoor marijuana grower in Pueblo County, for over $ 60 million. Weeks later, Schwazze, a Denver-based marijuana conglomerate formerly known as Medicine Man Technologies, announced plans to acquire 34 acres from Southern Colorado Growers in Huerfano County for $ 11.3 million – and it is not the only major cannabis operation to do business in Huerfano County, a community of fewer than 7,000 people south of Pueblo.
Power REIT, a New York-based real estate mutual fund involved in projects including greenhouse farming, solar power, and railroads, raised $ 3.9 million for a 35-acre marijuana growing area in Huerfano County in late May. According to Power REIT, the greenhouse facility will be approximately 102,800 square feet when completed, with the promise of creating more economic and employment opportunities for one of Colorado’s poorest counties.
“Southern Colorado is an ideal location from an environmental point of view to grow cannabis in a greenhouse,” said David Lesser, chairman and CEO of Power REIT. “We think this is an exceptional opportunity for us to invest in these projects and also for our” tenant operators to build profitable businesses. “
Power REIT will lease the property to tenant and breeder Walsenburg Cannabis LLC under the direction of Jared Schrader, Cedric Crockett and Chief Grow Officer Belinda LeBlanc.
“It will definitely bring some benefits to the community. Jobs are hard to come by down here and we will have a lot to do, “says LeBlanc.” But the team and I like to train others and we hope we can bring in people even if they aren’t. I’m not familiar with growing cannabis commercially. ”
According to the company, Walsenburg Cannabis has already hired a few dozen employees and plans to hire up to 100 employees by next year. Aside from early complaints about the distinct smell of marijuana, the growing industry hasn’t created much controversy, according to Carl Young, the administrative officer for Huerfano County.
“You’ve talked a lot about Jobs, I don’t have an exact number, but when that comes into play that’s another good thing,” he says. “I assume this is good for the community and there won’t be any further complaints.”
Tension erupted briefly between the previous landlord and the marijuana growers on the property when the nearby Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center, which is home to a veteran’s residential center, complained about the skunky smell of the cultivation. However, these complaints did not result in any official action against the tenants or the owner.
To avoid future discomfort, Schrader said the facility will use an odor detector to ensure concentrations meet county regulations, in addition to a carbon filter system for additional measures. “We will take the right steps to ensure that our neighbors are not disturbed as per the county’s requirements for noise, light or odor pollution,” he adds.
Schrader also plans to work with affordable housing developer indieDwell to plan affordable housing projects in Huerfano and Pueblo counties for the potential influx of new residents working in the marijuana industry. To fund the Huerfano County project, Schrader says his company will pay double the local 5 percent excise tax on marijuana businesses.
“The County of Huerfano is sadly a distressed county. We are excited about the opportunity to give back to the community. Almost all of the employees we hire will see a raise from their previous jobs and will have health care in the.” Cannabis industry is a bit sparse, “he says. “Next year we are projected to return around $ 250,000 to the total county budget, which was just over a million dollars this year, so that would be a significant increase for the community.
According to Walsenburg Cannabis, the project should go into operation this summer.
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Hilal is an alumni of the Metropolitan State University of Denver with a degree in political science. She has written for Denver Life Magazine and 303 Magazine and is currently the cannabis intern for Westword.