Glenwood Springs now home to the largest marijuana grow site in the Roaring Fork Valley | SummitDaily.com

Glenwood Springs now home to the largest marijuana grow site in the Roaring Fork Valley

Six months ago, Ron Radtke wasn't very happy with the direction his planned marijuana growing operation was headed. Radtke, the sole owner of Green Essentials Medical LLC, doing business as Green Dragon Colorado, was trying to set up a grow operation on Lower River Road in Pitkin County before running into a roadblock from several of the neighbors and the Woody Creek caucus. Despite receiving assurances from several county officials that his vision of building a pair of greenhouses would work at that location, he ultimately was denied the go-ahead by the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners to develop the property he was leasing there. But like the old saying goes, when one door shuts, another one usually opens. Radtke turned to Glenwood Springs, and found what he considers a perfect fit for his planned operations in the old Coors warehouse on Devereux Road next to the Colorado River. The warehouse most recently housed the manufacturing firm Fiberforge until it went out of business last year. The warehouse has the size, power capabilities and location that fits perfectly into Radtke's plans to develop a super-sized growing and retail operation. The 26,000-square-foot building has the size and expansion capabilities Radtke needs to develop his 70-plus strains of marijuana he'll use to supply his current medical patients and future recreational customers. Ultimately, his plan is to more than double the current grow space in the building. The warehouse already has enough power to satisfy all of the electrical needs for his operation. It sits within the city's only industrial zone, the only place where marijuana can be cultivated legally within the Glenwood Springs city limits. "We're feeling a lot better where we're at now than six months ago," Radtke said. "As far as our competition goes, it's game on. We're going to be the only true locally owned and locally grown outlet in the valley." The retail shop is already open for business in Glenwood Springs if customers have a medical marijuana card. Radtke said the Glenwood location should be open for recreational business today. Radtke's Green Dragon Colorado shop in Aspen is already licensed to sell recreational marijuana. "Our medical patients will always be protected and will always have a home with us," Radtke said. "We've seen other outlets, like Stash near Aspen, go completely recreational. Our medical patients are our friends and the basis of how we started. We also believe in the medicinal value of our product." What most customers will see at Green Dragon Colorado in Glenwood Springs is the retail shop located next to the warehouse. The space is divided into two shopping counters with one dedicated to medical patients and the other supplied with recreational product. The shop is spacious and well lit with plenty of product in jars lining several walls. Besides the flower itself, there also are edibles, smoking paraphernalia, clothing and vaporizing products available. Bud tender Marie Kilbourn has worked in both Glenwood Springs and Aspen for Green Dragon. Friendly and knowledgeable about the product, Kilbourn was all smiles to be working at the new facility. "It's really a great space and it'll only get better," she said. "We're going to have the best variety of product, the best shop and will give our customers the best shopping experience possible." Radtke's crew took control of the warehouse in January and has used the past four months to plan and set up lighting, monitor the moisture levels, design the specific growing areas and set up space for supplies and equipment. "It's not a race to start fast," Radtke said. "We're taking our time to do this right. We want our customers and the city of Glenwood Springs to be happy, so we're doing our best to follow all the rules and set up an operation that will provide quality products for both the medical and recreational customers." Jeff Kennedy is the general manager for Green Dragon Colorado, and he keeps a watchful eye on the warehouse as it slowly comes to life. With more than 70 strains of marijuana already growing, Kennedy said it's important to offer a variety of products. "Our goal isn't just to have a product that's 20 percent THC," Kennedy said. "We want to offer choices to our customers. Not everybody wants the strongest marijuana possible; some people like the taste, the color, the smell or just the mood they feel from different strains. There are so many other components to a plant that's beneficial or desirable to our customers other then just the THC count." The facility offers plenty of size and power to make it the largest known indoor grow area on the Western Slope, but Radtke and his crew aren't done yet. The warehouse already has 26,000 square feet of space with an additional 3,200-square-foot building that will be used as the sales center, but that's going to change as Radtke embellishes and develops more of the property. Radtke's son, Brian, came up with an idea to add another 20,000 square feet of flowering space by putting in rows of shelving about 8 feet off the ground that nearly doubles the grow area to 46,000 square feet. One room in the warehouse will be used as a 3,800-square-foot grow space using only natural light from June through October. A special composite material was installed on the roof to expand the natural light and increase growth production. There's an additional 8,000-square-foot space outside of the warehouse that Radtke plans to develop into another grow area, hopefully by the end of summer. The roof of the warehouse has a level section that Radtke is looking to turn into another 16,000 square feet of growing area. When completed, the warehouse could hold between 60,000 to 70,000 square feet of grow and storage space. One area of the warehouse has multiple pallets loaded with several tons of crushed coconut husks and another area with a dozen pallets of perlite, a naturally occurring siliceous rock that is covered with tiny cavities that trap moisture. The two products are used together as a soil to grow the plants in. "They're both clean, reusable and environmentally sound products," Kennedy said. "Keeping the operation as natural and environmentally friendly as possible has been the goal since day one." One issue that indoor marijuana growers almost always have to deal with is combating the infestation of spider mites. Instead of using a commercial pesticide, Green Dragon sprays their plants with natural rosemary and citrus oils to control the tiny arachnids. They also use food-grade products as fertilizer, meaning a person can eat or drink them. Beginning in July, all products that come out of the warehouse will be sent to an independent testing center to check for contaminants, molds, pesticides and other foreign substances. "They'll test our product like something you would buy at a grocery store," Kennedy said. The building already is equipped with 2,500 amps at 480 volts, easily enough power for Radtke's planned operation. "This is the purest uninterrupted power available," Radtke said. "We'll use maybe 350 amps out of the 2,500 available. We're set for power for a long, long time." Security is a major issue, and Radtke is making sure his investment is safe and well monitored. There are nearly 200 video-surveillance cameras being installed that will eventually be displayed on four 40-inch monitors. "We're really blessed to have this facility," Radtke said. "We're the first cannabis company that's been accepted into the Glenwood Springs Chamber of Commerce. You'll see our ad in their summer guide when it comes out. We're vested in the overall economic health of Glenwood Springs and the responsible cultivation and consumption of cannabis. We're proud of our new facility and our shop in Aspen. The Roaring Fork Valley is a great place to do business, and it's our home, as well."

Approval granted for Green Dragon to change hands

A Denver-based cannabis company that already owns a retail and medical marijuana operation in Glenwood Springs won local approval Wednesday to acquire the Green Dragon's local holdings. Greenwerkz already received approval in May from Aspen's licensing authority for a transfer of ownership involving the Green Dragon retail store and medical dispensary in Aspen. That was the first step in the pending $8 million sale that would include the Green Dragon's retail, medical and cultivation operation on Devereux Road in Glenwood Springs as well. Greenwerkz already operates seven recreational shops and nine medical shops throughout Colorado, including one at 2922 S. Glen Ave. in Glenwood Springs. Following a brief hearing Wednesday with no one opposed to the transaction, Glenwood Springs' marijuana and liquor licensing official Angela Roff OK'd transfer of the retail licenses. A separate "paper review" of the medical marijuana license transfer is still pending, but is expected to be completed by week's end, Roff said. That leaves only the Colorado Department of Revenue, which oversees marijuana operations in the state, to approve the deal, Greenwerkz co-owner Ryan Milligan said. The sale will include Green Dragon's medical and recreational cultivation facility and dispensary at 1420 Devereux Road. Green Dragon settled on that location for its primary growing operations last summer after failing to win approval for a cultivation facility in Pitkin County. The operation's Aspen retail shop and medical dispensary is located at 409 E. Hyman Ave. Like the Glenwood location, it would continue to operate as a dual medical-recreational retailer serving customers 21 and older. The pending sale would involve a $7.25 million loan from Andrew Levine, a Denver friend who Milligan told the Aspen Times earlier this year he has collaborated with on past real estate transactions. According to Aspen Times reports, Levin will collect interest on the loan, but it does not include any ownership rights of Green Dragon. Milligan reiterated on Wednesday that he does not anticipate making any changes in the managerial staff currently working for Green Dragon owner Ron Radtke. As for Radtke, he said after the Wednesday license transfer hearing that this will mean "retirement" for him. Radtke was one of the pioneers in establishing the medical marijuana trade in Glenwood Springs, first opening the Green Essentials dispensary in the 1400 block of Grand Avenue, before moving it to the 400 block of 10th Street and eventually to Devereux Road last year after he obtained a license to sell on the recreational market as well. Radtke and the Green Dragon lost their bid earlier this summer to open a second retail location and what would have been Glenwood Springs' only marijuana edibles bakery at 919 Grand Ave. following public outcry about new marijuana shops in the downtown core. The Green Dragon lost its appeal of Roff's decision to City Council during a lengthy July 2 hearing, as did another proposed retail operator, Recreational Releaf, which has proposed to open a retail shop in the former Green Essentials storefront on 10th Street. Radtke said he initially prepared a request to Garfield District Court to reconsider the rejected retail license, but has since withdrawn that request. Meanwhile, Glenwood City Council is nearing the end of a 90-day moratorium on new marijuana license and land-use applications in anticipation of adopting new regulatory measures aimed at controlling the proliferation of marijuana businesses in town. Under the new rules, any new marijuana business would have to go through a special-use review before both the city Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council. Businesses must also now be separated by at least 900 feet, rather than 325 feet under the existing rules. City Council is slated to give final consideration to the new regulations at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Glenwood medical pot dispensary wins OK to convert to rec sales

One of Glenwood Springs' established medical marijuana dispensaries will now be able to switch over to retail recreational sales, following approval from the city's licensing official. City liquor and marijuana licensing authority hearing officer Angela Roff rendered her decision late Friday regarding a retail marijuana license for Martin's Natural Medicinals at 216 Sixth St. The decision to approve the license follows a July 8 hearing to consider the Martin's request, after which Roff had 30 days to make her decision. The approval also comes on the heels of her denial of two new retail marijuana licenses in downtown Glenwood Springs, which were upheld on appeal to City Council in early July. The fact that the only opposition to the Martin's application at the July 8 hearing came from the owners and other principals of those two establishments, Green Dragon/Green Essentials, which wanted to open a second retail store and new marijuana edibles kitchen at 919 Grand Ave., and what would have been the Recreational Releaf Dispensary at 410 10th St., played into Roff's decision. In her written decision, Roff said the argument that, because their requests were denied, every other application should also be denied, "fell flat with this hearing officer for many reasons." "What stands out to this hearing officer is the fact that this applicant intends to convert the existing medical marijuana business into a retail establishment," she wrote. "Thus, all of the medical business will be eliminated and replaced with retail business. "It therefore follows that the residents are accustomed to the current establishment because it has been operating as a medical marijuana business for years now," Roff concluded. Martin's owner Dave Martin said he was pleased with the decision, offering a hearty "semper fi," the motto for U.S. Marine pride, in honor of his pledge to cater to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. "Now, every veteran 21 and over can come here and get free counseling, and they don't have to get a (medical) license to buy affordable medication instead of taking pills," Martin said. Martin said he intends to convert the corner store just before crossing the southbound Grand Avenue Bridge from medical-only sales to recreational sales next Monday. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with half-day hours on Sunday, he said. Roff's decision is consistent, in that the only retail licenses that have been approved in Glenwood Springs have been for existing medical marijuana dispensaries. Glenwood will now have three outlets offering both medical and recreational sales, the Green Dragon/Green Essentials on Devereux Road, the Green Joint/Green Medicine Wellness at 11th and Grand, and Greenwerkz on south Glen Avenue/Highway 82. One downtown store in the 700 block of Grand, Green Natural Solutions, continues to offer sales to registered Colorado medical patients only, and Martin's will now convert to retail sales only. Green Dragon owner Ron Radtke had previously testified in favor of the Recreational Releaf application and other competitors at the same time his request for a second retail license and edibles kitchen was being heard. After both of those applications were denied, and that decision was upheld by City Council, he changed his tune. "You denied my application because city needs had been met," Radtke said at the July 8 hearing. "Subsequently, I would like you and the city to honor the wishes of the city's inhabitants." Radtke could not be reached Monday for comment on the Martin's decision. This Wednesday afternoon, Roff is slated to hear a transfer of ownership request from Green Dragon/Green Essentials to be sold to Greenwerkz. That hearing is to begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the municipal courtroom at City Hall.

Glenwood medical pot dispensary wins OK to convert to rec sales

One of Glenwood Springs' established medical marijuana dispensaries will now be able to switch over to retail recreational sales, following approval from the city's licensing official. City liquor and marijuana licensing authority hearing officer Angela Roff rendered her decision late Friday regarding a retail marijuana license for Martin's Natural Medicinals at 216 Sixth St. The decision to approve the license follows a July 8 hearing to consider the Martin's request, after which Roff had 30 days to make her decision. The approval also comes on the heels of her denial of two new retail marijuana licenses in downtown Glenwood Springs, which were upheld on appeal to City Council in early July. The fact that the only opposition to the Martin's application at the July 8 hearing came from the owners and other principals of those two establishments, Green Dragon/Green Essentials, which wanted to open a second retail store and new marijuana edibles kitchen at 919 Grand Ave., and what would have been the Recreational Releaf Dispensary at 410 10th St., played into Roff's decision. In her written decision, Roff said the argument that, because their requests were denied, every other application should also be denied, "fell flat with this hearing officer for many reasons." "What stands out to this hearing officer is the fact that this applicant intends to convert the existing medical marijuana business into a retail establishment," she wrote. "Thus, all of the medical business will be eliminated and replaced with retail business. "It therefore follows that the residents are accustomed to the current establishment because it has been operating as a medical marijuana business for years now," Roff concluded. Martin's owner Dave Martin said he was pleased with the decision, offering a hearty "semper fi," the motto for U.S. Marine pride, in honor of his pledge to cater to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. "Now, every veteran 21 and over can come here and get free counseling, and they don't have to get a (medical) license to buy affordable medication instead of taking pills," Martin said. Martin said he intends to convert the corner store just before crossing the southbound Grand Avenue Bridge from medical-only sales to recreational sales next Monday. Hours will be 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with half-day hours on Sunday, he said. Roff's decision is consistent, in that the only retail licenses that have been approved in Glenwood Springs have been for existing medical marijuana dispensaries. Glenwood will now have three outlets offering both medical and recreational sales, the Green Dragon/Green Essentials on Devereux Road, the Green Joint/Green Medicine Wellness at 11th and Grand, and Greenwerkz on south Glen Avenue/Highway 82. One downtown store in the 700 block of Grand, Green Natural Solutions, continues to offer sales to registered Colorado medical patients only, and Martin's will now convert to retail sales only. Green Dragon owner Ron Radtke had previously testified in favor of the Recreational Releaf application and other competitors at the same time his request for a second retail license and edibles kitchen was being heard. After both of those applications were denied, and that decision was upheld by City Council, he changed his tune. "You denied my application because city needs had been met," Radtke said at the July 8 hearing. "Subsequently, I would like you and the city to honor the wishes of the city's inhabitants." Radtke could not be reached Monday for comment on the Martin's decision. This Wednesday afternoon, Roff is slated to hear a transfer of ownership request from Green Dragon/Green Essentials to be sold to Greenwerkz. That hearing is to begin at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the municipal courtroom at City Hall.

Aspen marijuana dispensaries seize holiday business

The greeter at the new Green Dragon location on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall checks IDs and bounces his head to the music playing. Inside, the budtenders, as they're called, field a wide range of questions. "How much does a vaporizer cost?" "Why's the Super Joint more expensive than the other ones?" It's a bit more low-key a few blocks away at the new Leaf Aspen location, where an upbeat Cally Shadowshot beams about the store's signature products and its homegrown marijuana supply of 40 pounds that's being cultivated for the dispensary's inventory. The more button-downed and recently remodeled Silverpeak Apothecary gives a first impression as a merchant of fine jewelry as opposed to one of recreational marijuana, but there's no question why the shoppers are there. And the shoebox confines of Alternative Medical Solutions serves as a temporary spot before it soon expands into its loungelike space down the hallway, where it will serve both medical and recreational customers. Welcome to downtown Aspen's four recreational marijuana shops, which all opened earlier this year with the legalization of recreational pot sales in Colorado. All four have either expanded their operations or relocated to higher-profile spots. This is the first week of holiday sales for the four downtown shops, where tourists have been regularly filing in either as consumers or curious onlookers. Between both recreational and medical marijuana sales, Colorado has reaped some $60.1 million in taxes, licenses and fees from Jan. 1 through October, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. That's in spite of some of the state's municipalities banning dispensaries. "I've lived in Colorado my whole life, and right now in Aspen, there's such a special energy. You can't find a place to park, but it's great," said Brian Radtke, chief operating officer of Green Dragon, which opened its retail shop last week in the Hyman Avenue mall while keeping its other store just a short walk away as a medical dispensary. "Summer was unbelievable, but this is great too." There weren't many holiday blowout sales at the dispensaries. Most tourists who partake are just pleased to have legal access to marijuana products, store operators said. But Alternative Medical Solutions was selling "Christmas Gift Bags," such as the "Sweet Grass Kitchen," offered for $84. The bag included four edible marijuana products — one 70 mg chocolate chip cookie, one 30 mg brownie, four 10 mg cookies and one 10 mg pumpkin pie. The holiday customers run the gamut, Shadowshot noted. Leaf is now located on East Durant Avenue, just mere footsteps away from the swanky Residences at The Little Nell and the Hyatt Grand Aspen. The moneyed gentry are customers there, as are the working-class locals, she said. After he turned away two minors from entering the store, one of Shadowshot's colleagues, Jesse Miller, said this is a time of year when the shop makes an effort to educate the tourists about the do's and dont's on pot consumption (see related story on page A3). A bulk of its customers are in the 40- to 60-year-old age group. "A number of people inquire if they can take it home," Miller said. "Federally, it's illegal, we tell them. But what you do when you walk out the door is not our business. But we tell them not smoke on the Cooper mall or the Hyman mall." Miller then pointed to the stack of pamphlets on the counter. Distributed by the Valley Marijuana Council, the educational pamphlet covers everything from how to secure cannabis and where to use it to how much to consume. It also offers some tips to visitors, warning them not to travel out of state with marijuana and reminding them about the amnesty box, located at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, where travelers can dispose their products before boarding the plane. But not all customers get it. Celebrity Paris Hilton made a purchase at Green Dragon earlier this week only to light up outside of the store in the mall, those knowledgeable of the episode said. Dispensary workers quickly informed her that type behavior isn't kosher, even in laid-back Aspen. Bill Linn, assistant police chief with the Aspen Police Department, said seeking out rogue pot smokers "is a really low-level issue, but we do run into people who don't understand the rules." Just the other day, he said, he spotted a couple getting high in an alleyway next to the condo they were inhabiting. Linn warned the couple that pot smoking is illegal in public spaces such as an alley. By next year, another downtown retail shop will open, Native Roots Aspen, which will occupy the former space of La Palapa on Hunter Street. That will increase downtown Aspen's recreational marijuana stores to five, not including Stash, which is located at the Aspen Business Center. Native Roots has shops throughout the state. Company CEO Josh Ginsberg said the Aspen store should create 25 local jobs. Ron Radtke, the father of Brian and owner of the Green Dragon and its other location in Glenwood Springs, said his company started with 12 people at the beginning of 2014. Now he has 49 on his payroll. rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Last of city’s pre-moratorium pot licenses considered

The last of several retail marijuana license applications that were in the works before Glenwood Springs City Council placed a moratorium on new requests in late May, and thus are not subject to the city's newly amended regulations, are to be heard today. City licensing officer Angela Roff is set to hear a proposal this afternoon for Osiris LLC to operate a new marijuana cultivation, products manufacturing and retail sales facility at 2150 Devereux Road. Osiris, which is made up of a group of Basalt- and Aspen-area investors, won its land-use approvals from the city in July to build the nearly 16,500-square-foot facility. It must now obtain the proper city licensing in order to begin construction and officially go into business. The location is about a half mile west of the existing Green Dragon cultivation, retail and medical marijuana sales facility. Green Dragon owner Ron Radtke recently won the OK from Roff to transfer his licenses to buyer Greenwerkz, a Denver-based company that operates one of Glenwood's four existing retail businesses that are allowed to sell recreational marijuana products to adults age 21 and older. Also on Roff's agenda for the 2 p.m. license hearing is a request from a company called Cannabist Castle Supermarket & Dispensary Lounge LLC to open "The Kind Castle" retail store at 818 Grand Ave. It would involve only a retail sales license, without the cultivation and products manufacturing components. The Cannabist and Osiris requests are the last of five applications that were already filed with the City Clerk's Office before council, responding to a rash of citizen and business owner complaints about the growing number of pot shops in the downtown area in particular, imposed a three-month moratorium on new applications. In doing so, council decided to allow the pending applications to proceed through the old process while it worked to amend the rules for new marijuana businesses in Glenwood. Last month, council adopted a special review process requiring all new marijuana businesses to come before the city's planning and zoning commission and ultimately City Council for public hearings, doing away with the hearing officer process for new applications. It also revised the minimum setback between marijuana businesses from 325 feet under the old rules to 900 feet. Both rules would apply to any new applications that come in from this point forward. In the meantime, Roff has ruled on three other license applications since the moratorium went into effect in late May. Green Dragon's proposal for a second retail shop and new marijuana edibles bakery in the 900 block of Grand Avenue next to the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue was denied, as was that for the proposed Recreational Releaf store in the 400 block of 10th Street. One other application, for the existing Martin's Naturals medical marijuana dispensary at Sixth and Grand to convert to recreational retail marijuana sales, was approved. Following today's Osiris and Cannabist Castle hearings, Roff will have 30 days to make a determination.

Weed & Words: Some business owners seek to shed stoner stereotypes

To some purveyors of that green, leafy and legal-in-Colorado substance — as well as its edible, drinkable and fellow byproducts — the term "pot shop" makes them cringe. You also can add "weed," "marijuana," "dope" and other monikers to a list of terms that makes them as uncomfortable as those opposed to the legalization of — let's get it right, now — cannabis. "In a certain aspect, it's about being politically correct," said Jesse Miller, one of the owners of the Leaf Aspen recreational dispensary. "Calling our products 'dope' (as a noun) is politically incorrect." As legalized recreational marijuana sales continue, many in the industry are trying to distance themselves from the stoner-esque vocabulary that they claim fuels an unfair stereotype. The quest to reverse the slacker image associated with users begins when customers visit the store, said Brian Radtke, who works for Green Dragon, which has medical and recreational operations in Aspen's Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall. "I think it starts with our employees, and people come in and see that we're not your typical stoner and part of the cannabis culture," Radtke said. "The culture is a sophisticated group of people; we have doctors, attorneys and upper-echelon clientele, and I don't think they think of themselves as stoners. By using the term 'cannabis,' we're trying to associate ourselves as upper-echelon." Even the word "marijuana," according to Miller, sends the wrong message. Miller argues it's a pejorative term — its roots are Mexican Spanish — that became commonplace in the 1930s when the drug became regulated in every state. Leading the way were newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst and the Du Pont family, which fought to outlaw industrial hemp so they could replace it with nylon. Leaf's Cally Shadowshot also gets a bit fired up about the word, so much so that she argues Colorado should change the name of its enforcement agency to better reflect the industry it monitors. "It needs to be called the Cannabis Enforcement Division, not the Marijuana Enforcement Division," Shadowshot said. When Miller and his partners acquired Leaf, one of the first things they did was remove the pot-leaf image from their company logo. Both Radtke and Miller said their stores don't mandate that their employees use certain words and avoid using others, but they ask their workers to use common sense with whom their dealing. "'Pot,' 'weed,' 'stoner.' Using those words in the general public is OK," Radtke said. "But in the store, we try to refrain from those words. We want people to understand that we're a professional business. It all comes back to educating, and educating and educating." Aspen’s fifth recreational dispensary to open was Native Roots. Native Roots is a Colorado chain, with stores scattered throughout the state. Its chief executive officer, Josh Ginsberg, said he doesn't get caught up in the lingo. "My personal opinion is for people to call it whatever they want to," Ginsberg said. "It's a new industry, and if they want to call my place a pot shop, they can. Or they can call it a cannabis dispensary. That's my mindset. I never want to put people in a box." But, Ginsberg said, his medical dispensaries adhere to a stricter vocabulary. "We speak to everything as medicine," he said. "But in the rec shops, we tell our employees to make the customer feel comfortable." For Miller, the industry's shifting vocabulary is steering public perception. Once, he said, a man entered his store, called him a "s— head" and lambasted him for being in the business. Miller said he saw no point in arguing with the man and let him have his say. Miller's job, he said, is to shed old stereotypes and rebrand the industry. "If we approach this like 'Cheech and Chong,' everybody's going to be worried about us," Miller said.

As marijuana industry evolves, Aspen sellers try to shed the stoner stereotypes

To some purveyors of that green, leafy and legal-in-Colorado substance — as well as its edible, drinkable and fellow byproducts — the term "pot shop" makes them cringe. You also can add "weed," "marijuana," "dope" and other monikers to a list of terms that makes them as uncomfortable as those opposed to the legalization of — let's get it right, now — cannabis. "In a certain aspect, it's about being politically correct," said Jesse Miller, one of the owners of the Leaf Aspen recreational dispensary. "Calling our products 'dope' (as a noun) is politically incorrect." As Colorado enters its second year of legalized recreational marijuana sales, many in the industry are trying to distance themselves from the stoner-esque vocabulary that they claim fuels an unfair stereotype. The quest to reverse the slacker image associated with users begins when customers visit the store, said Brian Radtke, who works for Green Dragon, which has medical and recreational operations in Aspen's Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall. "I think it starts with our employees, and people come in and see that we're not your typical stoner and part of the cannabis culture," Radtke said. "The culture is a sophisticated group of people; we have doctors, attorneys and upper-echelon clientele, and I don't think they think of themselves as stoners. By using the term 'cannabis,' we're trying to associate ourselves as upper-echelon." Even the word "marijuana," according to Miller, sends the wrong message. Miller argues it's a pejorative term — its roots are Mexican Spanish — that became commonplace in the 1930s when the drug became regulated in every state. Leading the way were newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst and the Du Pont family, which fought to outlaw industrial hemp so they could replace it with nylon. Leaf's Cally Shadowshot also gets a bit fired up about the word, so much so that she argues Colorado should change the name of its enforcement agency to better reflect the industry it monitors. "It needs to be called the Cannabis Enforcement Division, not the Marijuana Enforcement Division," Shadowshot said. When Miller and his partners acquired Leaf, one of the first things they did was remove the pot-leaf image from their company logo. Both Radtke and Miller said their stores don't mandate that their employees use certain words and avoid using others, but they ask their workers to use common sense with whom their dealing. "'Pot,' 'weed,' 'stoner.' Using those words in the general public is OK," Radtke said. "But in the store, we try to refrain from those words. We want people to understand that we're a professional business. It all comes back to educating, and educating and educating." As early as Jan. 20, downtown Aspen will have its fifth recreational dispensary when Native Roots opens. Native Roots is a Colorado chain, with stores scattered throughout the state. Its chief executive officer, Josh Ginsberg, said he doesn't get caught up in the lingo. "My personal opinion is for people to call it whatever they want to," Ginsberg said. "It's a new industry, and if they want to call my place a pot shop, they can. Or they can call it a cannabis dispensary. That's my mindset. I never want to put people in a box." But, Ginsberg said, his medical dispensaries adhere to a stricter vocabulary. "We speak to everything as medicine," he said. "But in the rec shops, we tell our employees to make the customer feel comfortable." For Miller, the industry's shifting vocabulary is steering public perception. Last week, he said, a man entered his store, called him a "s— head" and lambasted him for being in the business. Miller said he saw no point in arguing with the man and let him have his say. Miller's job, he said, is to shed old stereotypes and rebrand the industry. "If we approach this like 'Cheech and Chong,' everybody's going to be worried about us," Miller said. rcarroll@aspentimes.com

Colorado stoner sterotypes

To some purveyors of that green, leafy and legal-in-Colorado substance — as well as its edible, drinkable and fellow byproducts — the term "pot shop" makes them cringe. You also can add "weed," "marijuana," "dope" and other monikers to a list of terms that makes them as uncomfortable as those opposed to the legalization of — let's get it right, now — cannabis. "In a certain aspect, it's about being politically correct," said Jesse Miller, one of the owners of the Leaf Aspen recreational dispensary. "Calling our products 'dope' (as a noun) is politically incorrect." As Colorado enters its second year of legalized recreational marijuana sales, many in the industry are trying to distance themselves from the stoner-esque vocabulary that they claim fuels an unfair stereotype. The quest to reverse the slacker image associated with users begins when customers visit the store, said Brian Radtke, who works for Green Dragon, which has medical and recreational operations in Aspen's Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall. "I think it starts with our employees, and people come in and see that we're not your typical stoner and part of the cannabis culture," Radtke said. "The culture is a sophisticated group of people; we have doctors, attorneys and upper-echelon clientele, and I don't think they think of themselves as stoners. By using the term 'cannabis,' we're trying to associate ourselves as upper-echelon." Even the word "marijuana," according to Miller, sends the wrong message. Miller argues it's a pejorative term — its roots are Mexican Spanish — that became commonplace in the 1930s when the drug became regulated in every state. Leading the way were newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst and the Du Pont family, which fought to outlaw industrial hemp so they could replace it with nylon. Leaf's Cally Shadowshot also gets a bit fired up about the word, so much so that she argues Colorado should change the name of its enforcement agency to better reflect the industry it monitors. "It needs to be called the Cannabis Enforcement Division, not the Marijuana Enforcement Division," Shadowshot said. When Miller and his partners acquired Leaf, one of the first things they did was remove the pot-leaf image from their company logo. Both Radtke and Miller said their stores don't mandate that their employees use certain words and avoid using others, but they ask their workers to use common sense with whom they're dealing. "'Pot,' 'weed,' 'stoner.' Using those words in the general public is OK," Radtke said. "But in the store, we try to refrain from those words. We want people to understand that we're a professional business. It all comes back to educating, and educating and educating." Josh Ginsberg, chief executive officer of Aspen's fifth dispensary — Colorado chain Native Roots — said he doesn't get caught up in the lingo. "My personal opinion is for people to call it whatever they want to," Ginsberg said. "It's a new industry, and if they want to call my place a pot shop, they can. Or they can call it a cannabis dispensary. That's my mindset. I never want to put people in a box." But, Ginsberg said, his medical dispensaries adhere to a stricter vocabulary. "We speak to everything as medicine," he said. "But in the rec shops, we tell our employees to make the customer feel comfortable." For Miller, the industry's shifting vocabulary is steering public perception. Last week, he said, a man entered his store, called him a "s— head" and lambasted him for being in the business. Miller said he saw no point in arguing with the man and let him have his say. Miller's job, he said, is to shed old stereotypes and rebrand the industry. "If we approach this like 'Cheech and Chong,' everybody's going to be worried about us," Miller said.

Services for Radtke set for today

Daniel William Radtke died Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007, at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver. He was 37 years old. He was born in Marshfield, Wisc., on April 20, 1969, to parents Robert J. Radtke and the late Phyllis M. (Ruder) Radtke.A 1987 graduate of Columbus High School in Marshfield, Dan earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point before moving to Colorado. He worked briefly for the U.S. Forest Service as a firefighter, giving that up for a permanent position at Keystone Resort, where he began working in 1995 as a maintenance technician. On Aug. 7, 1996, Dan married Sonia Rojas at Dillon Reservoir. Together, the couple raised sons born in 2001 and 2006, living and working together happily as a family, and as members of the Keystone community, until his recent untimely death. A licensed journeyman electrician, Dans contributions to the community included work as a volunteer with the Keystone and Dillon Fire Departments and a member of the Knights of Columbus. His interests included outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, skating, hiking, biking, boating, and camping, all of which he enjoyed with friends and family.His love of music brought him together with people, as is evidenced by his well-used collection of albums and the ticket stubs that he saved from concerts he attended regularly with friends and family. Dan was known by many as a good friend and a great guy to be around. He was a loving and dedicated husband, father, son, and brother the youngest of five boys.Daniel Radtke was preceded in death by his mother, Phyllis, and grandparents Joseph & Cecilia (Kubisiak) Radtke and Philip & Barbara (Kienlen) Ruder, as well as an uncle Charles Ruder, and aunts Karlene (Ruder) Leberg and Marlene (Ruder) Wenzel.He is survived by his wife, Sonia and sons Matthew and Kenneth Radtke, all of Dillon, his father Robert (and wife Joan) Radtke, of Marshfield, Wisconsin, mother-in-law Laura Garcia, of Cuilapa Santa Rosa, Guatemala, four brothers Steven (and wife Gail), of Marshfield, Wisconsin, Mark (and wife Patricia), of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Roger, of Austin, Texas, and Philip, of Blacksburg, Virginia. Also surviving are Dans nieces and nephews, Kristen, Nathan, Benjamin, Michael, Jacob, William, and Emily Radtke. He is survived by and loved by his many uncles, aunts and cousins, both on his side of the family, as well as that of his wife Sonia.A Vigil Service will be held on Thursday, Feb. 15 from 6-8 p.m., followed by a service of the Rosary at 8 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, 19 Straight Creek Drive, Dillon. Mass of Christian Burial will be Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m., also at Our Lady of Peace Church in Dillon. Fr. Jesse Amedzi will officiate. Following the Mass, the family will receive friends at a reception at the Keystone Conference Center.Arrangements are being handled by Bailey Funeral Home in Leadville.