Friday, April 10, 2009

Loveland shop to offer medical pot

BY DOUGLAS CROWL • Loveland Connection • April 10, 2009

LOVELAND - Loveland's first medicinal marijuana dispensary will open this week - more than eight years after Colorado voters legalized the drug for such use.

Rich Present, 37, and Drew McNeil, 33, plan to open Nature's Medicine today at 843 Cleveland Ave.

Along with selling marijuana, Nature's Medicine will provide a variety of alternative health-related services, such as low-cost acupuncture and massage, meditation, and a variety of herbs and supplements.

The business will also contract out for more intensive home care; and in August, a certified nursing assistant will join the staff.

"This will be a totally on-site thing," Present said, adding that the business will have professionals on hand for walk-in services aimed at patient care.

The store will sell smoking accessories and some clothing as well.

McNeil would like to see the business as a place people can visit for a variety of things, even for tea or fresh-squeezed juice, he said.

Still, the business likely will be best known as a marijuana dispensary, featuring a locked room where state-registered patients may purchase marijuana in a variety of forms, including budding plants, baked goods and in liquid form.

Present would like to create a cooperative of legal marijuana growers through Nature's Medicine to drive down the drug's price for medicinal users, he said.

"If we are not beating the street (value) for $300 (an ounce), then why should they come to us," Present said.

One ounce of marijuana at Nature's Medicine will cost between $250 and $300 and one-eighth of an ounce will cost $50, plus standard sales tax, Present said.

Colorado medical marijuana laws state that anyone registered to use the drug can grow six plants for personal use.

However, they also can designate someone as a caregiver to grow those plants for them.

As of February, about 6,800 Colorado residents have registered as medical marijuana users; 569 of them are from Larimer County, according to information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Larimer County comes in as the region with the fourth-largest number of people on the registry, behind Denver, Jefferson and El Paso counties.

Present and McNeil are registered users and caregivers for 20 patients.

Loveland police Sgt. Benjamin Hurr said police were consulted and this type of operation is a legal business as long as the business owners follow state and municipal laws.

Nature's Medicine is at least the second dispensary to open in Larimer County.

One year ago, Enerchi Healing Center opened in Fort Collins providing similar services.

"We've seen phenomenal success with our community," Enerchi owner Pam Fleming said, adding she has not had any problems with the Fort Collins police.

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