Last April, the town of De Beque approved the sale of retail marijuana.
Seven months later, they’ve approved their first application. Kush Gardens, LLC will be the first retail pot shop in De Beque, and the only one in Mesa County.
"We are getting a lot of interest," says town administrator, Guy Patterson. "Part of what is slowing down some of the growth is that we just don't have buildings for people to move into, but there's enough market force that people are looking at annexing in, or building buildings, or rehabbing buildings, these types of things."
The town also passed a 5% excise tax on the industry. Patterson is optimistic about the economic benefit to the town.
"Whether it is employment, or their property values going up, or they own a business in town so they're
going to get more business...For instance, the owner of Kush Gardens thinks she'll be employing 14 to 18 people. Well, those 14 to 18 people have to eat lunch. Where are they going to go? Those types of things."
There was another vote that influenced De Beque this November, but it wasn’t their vote, it was Palisades. With Palisade voting down retail marijuana, De Beque sits in a unique place.
"We fit well in a regional market. We sit right on I-70 and there's nobody to the west of us except the Pacific Ocean, with Palisade not approving," says Patterson.
"We think we have a two to three year window to reap the benefits of that market. But we know that's going to change, so we want to spend the money we collect on these taxes wisely, so we can do some good long-term things for the town. We're not looking at beer in all the faucets, we're looking at some pretty straightforward things," he says.
"We are budgeting $100,000, and that's about the average that we've seen is one recreation marijuana shop will bring about $100,000 in revenue through taxes. So when we looked at Carbondale and a couple other places, that was a rough model," he says. "I think we'll see considerably more than that, it depends on how many stores we get open. But again, since Palisade didn't pass, we have that whole western side and we think that's very attractive.
"I personally think that $100,000 is conservative, but I'm very OK with that," says Patterson.
The first big project planned for the town will be new road signs.