A new marijuana dispensary was given the green light Tuesday to open near the Colorado-New Mexico border.
La Plata County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the new business, called “Border Buds,” to be located at 1929 U.S. Highway 550, about 2 miles north of the New Mexico border with La Plata County.
The property has two existing structures and has a history of commercial use over the years, such as a gas station, county officials said. In recent years, the buildings have been vacant.
During a neighborhood meeting in May, nearby residents raised concern there is not enough local support for the dispensary in the relatively unpopulated area, and instead the shop is targeting customers from New Mexico.
“With this border location ... I think it’s natural to raise that question,” said Commissioner Julie Westendorff on Tuesday.
Joseph Wojcik, owner of Border Buds, said it is legal for out-of-state residents to purchase marijuana in Colorado, with a limit of 1 ounce. He also said New Mexico recently decriminalized marijuana and is expected to legalize it.
But more than anything, Wojcik said he picked the location not to intercept New Mexico residents looking to buy marijuana in Durango, but because it is along Highway 550.
“We’re not looking to market toward New Mexico as much as we’re looking to market at a high-traffic area,” he said.
County officials said they reached out to San Juan County, New Mexico, for input but never received a response.
The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office submitted written comment that said it was concerned the dispensary would be a “prime target for robberies and burglaries” and by the time deputies could reach the area, the suspects would be “long gone in New Mexico.”
This dispensary is about 15 miles south of Durango.
The Sheriff’s Office did not raise any further concerns.
Few people spoke during Tuesday’s public comment session.
Dale Bell, a nearby resident, said he objected to a dispensary at the location.
“You may go to bed each night and say the law says it’s legal, but that doesn’t make it right,” he said.
La Plata County commissioners said legal issues over a dispensary near a state line is not within the scope of commissioners’ authority. Instead, they said the project meets county codes, and should be approved.
“Our marijuana retailers have very strict protocols to follow,” Commissioner Gwen Lachelt said. “It’s very stringent, and if you don’t follow protocols, you lose your license.”
According to county records, the dispensary will have three full-time employees and is expected to operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. No cultivation will happen on-site. No money will be kept there overnight, Wojcik said.
County records show Wojcik first submitted a request for a dispensary at the location in 2018, and it has taken several years and rewrites to come before the commission.
Attempts to reach Wojcik after the meeting were not immediately successful.