Why we went
DENVER, Colorado (WDTN) On November 3rd, Ohioans will hit the polls to decide if the state should legalize marijuana. Before that vote, we wanted to show you how the change has impacted another state where it's already legal. Natalie Tendall with 2 NEWS Investigates traveled to Colorado and over the next few weeks she'll be digging deeper into the marijuana debate and looking into everything from how pot has impacted the economy there to the tricky challenges law enforcement is facing.
Colorado's law is quite a bit different from Ohio's proposal but there's one thing that would be the same if Ohio's measure passes; marijuana would be legal to grow, sell and smoke.
If Ohio votes to legalize marijuana there would be 10 pre-selected grow sites up and running, producing the marijuana that would be sold in the state.
Colorado does not have that limitation on the number of grow facilities. There are hundreds in the state and we went inside one of the in Denver.
Inside a marijuana grow facility
The minute you exit your car outside MiNDFUL grow facility you can smell it; marijuana is in the air. CEO, Meg Sanders agreed to take us through her business and explain how it works. Like a lot of people in Colorado, she's interested to see how Ohio will vote.
While walking down a row of adult marijuana plants ready to be harvested, Sanders stops and says, "Isn't that beautiful? When it dries, it dries a deep purple like this." She bent toward the flowering plant and exclaimed, "Oh it smells so good."
You can tell she loves her job, but in many states what she's doing is illegal. After all, she grows marijuana and sells it.
Her business, MiNDFUL supplies medical and recreational marijuana products to their four Colorado dispensaries.
"There's a natural curiosity like wait, this can help me sleep better? This can help my appetite? Or this helps me be more energized and creative? The learning curve is fascinating to me and we are still seeing brand new customers in our store everyday," said Sanders.
You can find everything from seedlings to full grown cannabis plants in their indoor grow facility that happens to be right next door to a Denver police station.
I asked her, "What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?" Sanders responded by saying,"Oh my. I would say hands down our biggest challenge and I would say industry wide is replicating mother nature indoors."
Turns out,"Weed" doesn't actually grow like one.
They have to use lights that replicate the sun, a watering system and experienced growers. Sanders said when all goes well, they have more than 10,000 marijuana plants growing.
Growers at MiNDFUL are constantly developing news strains or "flavors" of marijuana. Every single one of their plants is tracked from seed to sale. It's information can all be found in a state database.
While the flowers and buds still make up the majority of their business, MiNDFUL also makes other products with marijuana.
Sanders says one of those products is live resin. She takes us to a back room where a handful of people are measuring and packaging the yellow substance into containers by hand.
"Oh my gosh, look at this pretty stuff," exclaimed Sanders, "It smells really good too. Yum!"
The substance comes from the oil extracted from a cannabis plant. It's a highly potent product, that according to Sanders, does not taste good. It's meant to be used in a vaporizer or a specially designed device.
"I think this is where the market is going," said Sanders, "because it's so reliable, it's the same potency throughout it and it's very safe. You need just a teeny tiny little bit in order to get the medicinal effects."
MiNDFUL produces hundreds of pounds of marijuana per month with their demand going up. They're expecting to bring in more than 15 million dollars this year...in cash.
You see, federally, what they're doing is still illegal and because of that their dispensaries can only take cash because banks, and the debit cards they issue, are federally regulated.
Sanders said the goal is to one day be able to accept plastic.In the meantime, they have figured out a way to avoid having to use a big safe. They found a bank willing to hold their money.
"We have an armored car service that comes and picks up the cash from the dispensaries and takes that directly to the bank so we're really eliminating a lot of that cash issue and a lot of the larger players or the players that have been around a while in this market have had access to banking even if it's quiet."
The safety of these facilities is another big concern we are hearing about in Ohio, so we asked Sanders about it. She said her grow facility and dispensaries are equipped with several cameras, which are required by the state of Colorado.
We also had to show ID at both places and were buzzed in.
She said, "my experience is, we make neighborhoods safer and that is because all of our cameras and all of our security and because of the foot traffic that’s coming in.”
On Thursday on 2 NEWS at 6, hear how the state of Colorado handles drug testing in the workplace now that marijuana is legal there.
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