The Colorado Border City’s standing as a Dispensary Capitol might change if New Mexico is legalized

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Colorado’s most pharmacy-based border town could soon face challengers across state lines.

Home to 26 pharmacies and fewer than 9,000 people, Trinidad is a popular marijuana outpost for travelers passing by on Interstate 25. Visitors from New Mexico, whose border is south of the city, are responsible for the largest influx of customers, according to Trinidad, from local pharmacy owners.

But New Mexico has been on the verge of legalizing recreational marijuana for several years and could make the move in a special session of the New Mexico Legislature if Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has her way. While this isn’t a lockdown – the New Mexico Senate didn’t hear a law legalizing recreational activities in 2020 and 2021 – Grisham says she “won’t wait another year” to legalize recreational activities, and advocates see change as a matter of when, not when.

While pharmacy owners in Trinidad acknowledge that not all 26 stores will survive after New Mexico is legalized, managers of chain and independent businesses in the city believe that more states joining the party are a good thing.

“We want marijuana to be legalized in the US, and we want people to have access to that drug and choice,” said Kimberly Schultz, co-owner of Higher Calling U pharmacy in Trinidad. “The New Mexico economy could take advantage of the boom while mitigating some of the legal aspects that affect people.”

Schultz is from Albuquerque and hopes that interstate trade between marijuana companies in New Mexico and Colorado will be possible if federal legalization is ever made. She believes that Colorado’s lead in the commercial pot and Trinidad’s reputation as a marijuana outpost and tourist stop have created some protection against competition – although she admits pharmacies must step up their game if they are to stay open.

“The fact that we have 26 stores here makes us an attraction. I’m not sure [New Mexico’s] The vision would be to bring 26 shops to one city. It’s such a young industry and there will be some wear and tear, but we created this attraction, “says Schultz.” Some businesses could fall off the map, but if we position ourselves well and look to the future, that is the key. The idea here is that we are boutique, sustainable and artisanal. So if everything goes to Cola and Marlboro, we have our niche. ”

According to Rich Kwesell, co-owner of Strawberry Fields pharmacies in southern Colorado, chain stores with branches in Trinidad may have more funding but are facing similar challenges. Like Schultz, Kwesell insists that legalizing marijuana is all the better.

“We’d certainly feel the hit, but it’s all good for progress. To say it will be the same in Trinidad I don’t think so. If you ask a store down there, they all see a decent amount of business from the side of New Mexico and Texas, “he says. “But I think there will always be tourism that comes through Trinidad and into Trinidad.”

According to Wally Wallace, Economic Development Coordinator, who has used his Denver entertainment and business connections to organize more events and diversify the city’s commerce, the local government of Trinidad has taken steps to address the reality of an increasing Prepare for cannabis competition. So far, Wallace has helped

entice Denver businesses like Sexy Pizza

and

Mutiny information cafe to Trinidad

and he hopes other comedy and music festivals like his upcoming Chief Bicycle & Comedy Festival, which enters its third year in 2021, will make it their annual home. Wallace adds that a Hilton hotel is being built in the city, with plans for residential development in the pipeline.

In a city that spent nearly $ 6 million in marijuana tax revenue on city projects and initiatives from 2019 through the third quarter of 2020, it’s hard to see how the effects of the gold rush could be replaced in marijuana. Local officials are investigating what legalization could mean in New Mexico, Wallace says; In preparation for a levy, the city is investing 30 percent of all marijuana revenues in a Rainy Day fund, which reached nearly $ 4 million late last year.

“I worry about the cannabis businesses themselves. I think some of them are likely to choose not to stay in business here, and some of them may want to invest in some of these frontier towns in New Mexico,” Wallace says. “We have invested in beautifying our city in the hope that cannabis won’t remain the biggest driver of the people who come here. We certainly hope it will remain a driver, but we realize that it may not always be . “

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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.

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