Alpenglow dispensary opens first marijuana shop in Dillon
Alpenglow Premium Cannabis
Where: 765 W. Anemone Trail in Dillon (across from Natural Grocers)
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For lifelong local Justin Williams, marijuana is a family affair. And that family now includes the final major town in Summit County to welcome retail pot.
Located next door to Natural Grocers in Dillon, Alpenglow Premium Cannabis is Williams’ latest endeavor after a wildly successful first year with Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge.
President’s Day weekend marked the grand opening of the new location, which now joins High Country Healing in Silverthorne as the two dispensaries on the northern shore of Lake Dillon.
On any given day — “seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Williams says — the co-owner can be found behind the bud bar at either of the Alpenglow locations, working closely with his father (another co-owner) and more than 20 employees, including a handful of relatives.
Williams, a 2002 Summit High School grad, has one goal: bring Summit-grown marijuana to the masses. Since becoming the county’s first medical dispensary in 2009, all cannabis bud sold at Alpenglow has been grown, trimmed and cured at the dispensary’s cultivation site on Airport Road. He says customers would often make the trek from Keystone and Summit Cove for his signature strains: Green Poison, Skywalker Kush and a personal favorite, Agent Orange. Come summertime, Alpenglow’s brand-new production facility for shatter and hash oil will be approved, adding another local product to dispensary’s lineup.
“It was worth putting the money into another store in another town,” says Williams, who first looked into Dillon properties in August, nearly two months before the town began accepting applications. “It’s nice to set a precedent as the first dispensary in Dillon, to get that word-of-mouth advertising. I think we’ve put a lot of time and effort into putting together a top notch store.”
But Dillon wasn’t first on Williams’ list of potential new homes. Before Breckenridge voters opted to ban all retail marijuana on Main Street — a decision that forced Breckenridge Cannabis Club from its prime in-town location to the jam-packed Airport Road — he and his father were looking at retail spaces along the downtown drag.
Then, with the Dillon Alpenglow just two days from opening, the Frisco Holiday Inn partnered with a D.C.-based anti-crime organization to file a federal racketeering suit against Medical Marijuana of the Rockies, the only other local dispensary with plans for a new storefront.
Williams was unfazed by the woes of neighboring dispensaries — yet relieved to be in a much different situation.
“It has been pretty easy, all thing considered,” Williams says of working with Dillon. “That’s not to say there weren’t some negotiations … but we’ve built a very comfortable relationship with just about everyone.”
CHERRY-PICKING POT LAW
While Alpenglow is now a sort of test subject for Dillon’s brand-new marijuana regulations, Williams believes the town is the best site for his newest store. The space had sat vacant for several years after a devastating flood, and along with the property owner, the dispensary spent thousands of dollars getting it ready for business.
One of the costliest additions was a custom odor-control system. Williams estimates the system alone cost between $40,000 and $50,000, but because it’s required under the town’s marijuana code, he was willing to eat the expense. Now, after a week in business, he’s still waiting for indoor signage that meets the town’s criteria.
“Even something as simple as putting up a window sign is more complicated than putting up a window sign,” Williams says. “We have to be very careful with what we do. It can be frustrating, but it’s to be expected and it’s something were willing to work through.”
Dillon officials purposely wanted to be one of the final municipalities to adopt marijuana. For town manager Tom Breslin, the waiting period helped the town council and staff avoid costly mistakes made elsewhere, such as the Main Street woes in Breckenridge.
“We feel comfortable that we’ve crossed our T’s and dotted our I’s,” Breslin says. “We tried to watch what was happening around us as we went through the process to avoid making mistakes. We went through this methodically.”
Dillon built its marijuana laws by cherry-picking from other jurisdictions, and Breslin believes it was the right approach. Williams says a few of the rules are built more for cultivation sites than retail shops — the odor-control system was an unexpected expense — but Breslin and Dillon Mayor Kevin Burns wanted to protect residents and neighboring businesses before inviting a new, untested industry into town.
“One of the things we heard loud and clear from residents is that they didn’t want businesses in areas that were mixed use, with residences nearby,” Burns says. “We wanted this to be discrete, with no grow operation and no odor issues. It was about keeping a low profile.”
ALONE FOR NOW
Alpenglow won’t have a corner on the Dillon market for long. Two other dispensaries, Altitude Organics and Native Roots — one of the state’s first legitimate dispensary chains, with mountain locations in Frisco and EagleVail — are in the middle of the application process. Both have been approved for retail licenses through the town and state and are now waiting the OK from town building officials.
Yet even with the specter of a racketeering lawsuit in Frisco, Burns still believes Dillon is ready to welcome marijuana.
“We’ve been a bit later than a few of our neighbors in the county, and I think that’s the right move,” Burns said. “It gave us time to be thoughtful about this new industry and how to get the right codes in place.”
And Burns has public opinion on his side. The town held several open-house events before approving retail marijuana codes, and after talking with residents Burns heard overwhelming support for regulated marijuana.
“I think we’ve worked hard to make thoughtful rules and regulations,” Burns says. “I respect people who don’t want to see this in town and across the county, but at the end of the day, I think we did a good job of balancing people’s concerns with the promise of this new industry.”
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