When the last lottery ball clinked into a wire cage, Dan Ramsay’s heart also dropped. After years of effort, he would not be opening a pot shop in Grand Junction, a city that has been one of most high-profile laggards in Colorado when it comes to allowing marijuana sales.
Ramsay, a longtime leader in the Western Slope hemp industry, had spent the past two years jumping through hoops to open a recreational marijuana store. He started planning when Grand Junction voters OK’d recreational sales in April 2021. After that vote, he and other potential cannabis business owners kept planning but were in a bureaucratic holding pattern while the City of Grand Junction yo-yoed on the criteria for marijuana merchants.
Ramsay attended at least 15 city meetings while the wheels of cannabis regulation spun. He and his partners bore the legal costs for the heaps of applications, licenses and plans required by the city. They paid 18 months of rent to lease a building where they planned to locate their weed shop.
“Honestly, I was just exhausted by the whole process,” Ramsay said after the disappointing lottery outcome March 30. “They say that if you shoot for the moon and miss, you land in the stars. But we just lost all the investment we put in our space shuttle.”
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Ramsay said he wouldn’t be so negative about the experience if it had all been a matter of chance. But the advent of the recreational marijuana trade in Grand Junction snaked through a frustrating, convoluted process with unexpected twists and turns