Valentine’s Day Massacre: Fort Collins Sets Deadline for Pot Shop Closures

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Dispensary owners and growers in Fort Collins, Colo., will be particularly depressed this Valentine’s Day. But not because of a faltering relationship, a recent breakup or a painful bout of loneliness. Rather, Feb. 14 marks the day that 20 medical pot businesses in the college town an hour north of Denver must turn off the lights for good, according to city officials.

Talk about a broken heart.

Over the past two years, a budding medical marijuana industry has cropped up in Fort Collins, following a similar trend around the state. But in recent months there’s been strong community backlash, with locals looking to rid the town of medical pot. It all came to a head in November, when 52 percent of Fort Collins voted in favor of a measure to ban dispensaries and related businesses from the city within 90 days. The initiative passed even though opponents of the ban raised much more money than supporters.

The closure will have a small – but nonetheless noticeable – impact on the state’s MMJ industry. Colorado is home to more than 700 MMCs and hundreds of edibles companies, growing operations and related businesses, which are primarily located in Denver, Colorado Springs and Boulder. While the medical marijuana businesses in Fort Collins account for just a sliver of the state’s total, the development is more symbolic than anything, showing that the situation can change literally overnight and that voters can indeed overturn medical marijuana laws.

The pushback in Fort Collins against medical pot surprised some industry professionals, as the city is known for being “pot friendly” given the heavy college population. However, it also has a fair share of families, and many opponents feared that the medical marijuana industry has a negative effect on children.