When Colorado legalized the retail sale of marijuana in 2012, savvy entrepreneurs saw an opportunity beyond setting up shop in population centers like Denver and Boulder.
They realized if they opened cannabis businesses in small towns along the state’s borders, they could attract customers from Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, where pot remained against the law but was still plenty popular.
“The border model was a great model,” said Josh Bleem, who lives near Fort Collins but owns CannaCo in Trinidad, one of the first dispensaries people pass as they enter Colorado on Interstate 25 from New Mexico. “We took advantage of that.”
Nowhere have marijuana entrepreneurs taken more advantage than Trinidad, which has 25 cannabis shops, according to potguide.com. The entire population of Las Animas County, where Trinidad is the county seat, is just over 14,000. The shops rang up almost $71 million in cannabis sales last year.
But the border business model soon will be tested. New Mexico this month legalized recreational cannabis, threatening not only the livelihoods of the rural Colorado shop owners and employees but also local governments that have come to rely on cannabis tax revenue to pad their coffers. [Read more at The Colorado Sun]