Medical pot business closes as recreational sales grow

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 4:58 PM
Lea Cody, Kathy Smith, Mattie Sim, and Jim Cody worked Mancos’ Bud Farm last year.

The Bud Farm dispensary has closed its medical business and will expand its recreational growing operation.

Owner Jim Cody said medical sales stopped in August at The Bud Farm, 385 N. Willow St. Though the store had 45 to 50 medical customers, he said that portion of the business was not sustaining itself.

Cody pointed to economic and business reasons for shutting down the medical operation, such as increased regulation of medical marijuana and the difficulty of doing business in Mancos. Required testing for medical flowers would have cost more than $200 per strain, he said.

The Bud Farm staffers put a lot of effort into the medical business before it closed, and it was the only medical marijuana operation in Mancos, Cody said.

“We miss the people we were helping medically,” he said Monday. “There are lots of medical uses, and we made sure our budtenders understood what those uses are.”

For a medical marijuana business to be successful, there must be a price difference between medical and recreational products that is significant enough to justify a medical operation, Cody said. Recreational products used to be more expensive than medical products, but recently the prices have become more similar, he said.

Many of the The Bud Farm’s previous medical customers still shop there for recreational products, and the company tried to carry over pricing to that side of the business, he said.

At last Wednesday’s Mancos town board meeting, trustees approved a special use permit and modification of premises for a 3,000-square foot recreational marijuana cultivation and retail store at The Bud Farm. Jenna Cody, representing the company, said at the meeting they are not expanding, but are converting the previous medical facility into part of the recreational business.

Marijuana retail and cultivation facilities up to 2,500 square feet are allowed in the Mancos highway business district along U.S. Highway 160. Special use permits are required for facilities between 2,500 square feet and 5,000 square feet, and a modification of premises notice must be submitted to the state.

Trustee Cindy Simpson said she had heard complaints from residents and business owners near The Bud Farm who noticed odors coming from the facility. Simpson asked that the odors be mitigated, and Jenna Cody said more charcoal air filters could be installed at the business. Trustees approved the special use permit and modification of premises with the condition that the odors be brought into compliance.

Jim Cody said he wouldn’t rule out the return of a medical operation some time down the line, but current industry trends suggest it wouldn’t happen any time soon.

Cody said The Bud Farm also has suffered from an industry influx of new dispensaries with large corporate backers. As in any industry, it’s tough for a small marijuana shop to compete with big stores, Cody said, but The Bud Farm will continue to operate with an emphasis on connoisseur marijuana and excellent customer service.

“The Bud Farm is now and always has been a mom-and-pop organization,” he said.