The city of Pueblo's only operating medical marijuana dispensary has been shut down. Tuesday, city officials notified the business it had to stop selling or else. Wednesday a dry-erase board explaining to patrons they were closed was on display in front of the shop.
Medimar Ministry was able to obtain a sales license last year for the dispensary, but city officials say they were unaware of the companies plans to sell marijuana. The original application for the business was to sell herbal remedies and other goods.
Since October, the city has been under a moratorium on the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries. Medimar agreed to abide by the moratorium at first, then after it was extended the owners decided to begin dispensing the marijuana to patients who declared the business was their caregiver. Since then their client base has grown to more than 500 patients.
Wednesday, Medimar's phone lines were jammed with irate patients who were calling to find out what to do next, and how they could help. Just before 1:00 p.m. the voicemail system had 99 new entrees and at least 38 other missed calls. Many others were able to get through and spoke with staff.
Meanwhile, many patients who stopped by were surprised and angered by the closure. "What am I supposed to do, buy it off a street vendor? Am I supposed to buy it off the streets and risk getting in trouble?" questions Darace Smith, a patient who uses Medimar's services.
Inside, staff members not fielding phone calls are putting together petitions and organizing patients in an effort to fight the closure. They say they wish they could do more to help the patients. "We had a gentleman yesterday who has multiple sclerosis, he's in a walker, he can barely move, and [medical marijuana] is what keeps him able to move as much as he can, and we had to tell him, we can't help you," says Andrea Floyd, the General Manager of Medimar's Pueblo location.
Floyd says, the business wants to resolve the issue with the city peacefully and reopen as soon as possible, however they may have to take their fight to court. If that's the case, many patients may opt to jump ship and head to other dispensaries currently operating in the county. Another option Medimar is toying with is leaving the city altogether, and moving their operation into the county.
This could ultimately be the only course for the dispensary, as the city council is set to decide whether or not to put a question on the November ballot that would give voters the final say over the future of dispensaries inside city limits. Meanwhile, county officials are still in the planning stages of their response to the regulatory options provided to local governments by state leaders earlier this year. The bills the state legislature passed go into effect Thursday.