Colorado’s medical marijuana industry continues to contract, with three MMJ dispensaries in the college town of Boulder deciding to close up shop after receiving warning letters from the federal government. Several additional marijuana centers in the state could go a similar route as a May 7 deadline approaches.
The Boulder Daily Camera reports that all three dispensaries in the city that received letters several weeks ago have decided to close rather than relocate. Two have already shut down, and the other one is holding a fire sale to prepare to close.
The closures are devastating for those involved: employees lose their jobs, owners see all the money they invested in the business evaporate and patients lose options for obtaining medical marijuana. Companies and individuals that provide services and products to these dispensaries – from legal advice to marijuana storage containers – take a hit as well.
The three dispensaries in Boulder were among two dozen medical marijuana centers in Colorado that federal prosecutors targeted in the second round of an MMJ crackdown in the state. The centers – all located within 1,000 feet of a school – were told to close or move by May 7.
The number of dispensaries in Colorado has dropped from more than 800 roughly 18 months ago to less than 700 today. At the same time, the number of registered patients has fallen by nearly 40% since last June, according to the latest official figures.
Strict new regulations on dispensaries that went into effect in July 2011 forced some centers out of business and scared some patients away. Other dispensary owners simply decided that the risks aren’t worth it, and a handful closed after the government’s first round of warning letters.