Grand County licenses Tabernash marijuana operation
January 15, 2015
The Grand County Board of Commissioners has approved six marijuana licenses for a new facility in Tabernash.
The commissioners granted IgadI Ltd. licenses for cultivation and sales for both retail and medical marijuana, as well as licenses for manufacturing both retail and medical marijuana-infused products.
IgadI plans to open a marijuana cultivation facility in the former Highland Lumber building in Tabernash. The facility will also include an extraction lab and industrial kitchen for making marijuana-infused products, and a space for retail and medical marijuana sales.
"We were just thrilled with the amount of public support we got from the whole community," said David Michel, IgadI's general counsel. "We were really honored with how many people showed up for the tours that we ran and saw for themselves what we were doing and made their decisions based on that rather than just listening to what came from the Grand County rumor mill."
“I’ve done the tour, I’ve seen it, and I’m very impressed. To me, as long as they’re in compliance with all of the laws and regulations, why wouldn’t we want to do this? I’m all for it.”
There was a large turnout for the Jan. 13 hearing, with more than 80 people packing the commissioners' room by 1:30 p.m.
The board consolidated the hearings for each of the licenses to save time.
Michel started the hearing with a lengthy presentation that touched on IgadI's community outreach efforts, among other things.
IgadI supporters went door-to-door collecting signatures of support and opposition from residents and businesses near the Highland Lumber property, including residents in Winter Park Highlands, Pole Creak Meadows and Pole Creek Valley.
Michel presented the results to the board, which totaled 406 signatures in favor and 16 against.
County Attorney Jack DiCola later revised the signatures to reflect those who live within a 2-mile radius of the property. Those numbers were 48 in support, six in opposition and one neutral.
"I think that we've shown sufficient public support with those signatures," Michel said. "We really think this is a Fraser Valley issue as well as a Grand County issue, and 406 signatures collected I think is an excellent amount."
Michel added that a number of people contacted refused to sign in support of the facility because of the public stigma attached to marijuana, and others in opposition refused to sign "simply because they did not want to be bothered."
A number of those in support of the business did not use marijuana and simply favored the economic benefits, Michel added.
The owners of IgadI plan to turn the approximately 11,500 square-foot facility at 72399 U.S. highway 40 into a leading wholesale manufacturer of marijuana and related products. Michel previously told the Sky-Hi News that IgadI plans to expand in the future and focus on wholesale manufacturing of marijuana and related products.
Unlike most marijuana operations, IgadI will include an educational component integral to the customer experience.
"What we wanted them to do was understand how we cultivate marijuana, how we produced it and really be able to bring a farm to table experience into their selection of what they wanted to purchase," Michel said during the presentation.
The lobby of IgadI is designed with a series of windows through which customers can view marijuana plants in the separate stages of their lives, from clone to flower.
The industrial kitchen where marijuana-infused products are made is also open to viewing.
"We also wanted to educate and be honest about it and really take what was a black market business and draw open the curtains and let them see, this is how it's grown, this is how it's produced and in doing so really inform consumers so that they can make good choices about what they wanted to consume," Michel said.
The space will also include interpretive touch screens to give customers more access to information about IgadI's products.
odor, security measures
Michel called on some of IgadI's contractors during the presentation.
Brian Zimmerman, IgadI's mechanical engineer and the grow facility's designer, spoke to the board about the efficacy of the facility's HVAC system to prevent odors from leaving the building.
Odor has been a major concern for residents living near possible grow facilities in Grand County.
Zimmerman said his firm has designed more than 170 grow facilities in Colorado since 2010.
Zimmerman told the board that the facility's HVAC system is closed loop, recirculating 100 percent of the air in the facility's cultivation areas.
"Most facilities will just use commercial HVAC," Zimmerman said. "They went one step further; they actually are using a unit that was developed out of California that is specifically designed for 100 percent recirculation and is designed for grow systems."
The facility also uses a lighting system that doesn't use outside air for colling in order to prevent odor from escaping.
"In summary … for a client to pick this type of system, they're paying a premium," Zimmerman said. "They're not just buying off-the-shelf commercial units. These units are expensive, and the client is paying a premium both from a capital expenditure up front and from an operating expense in order to mitigate odors."
For a briefing on the facility's security, Michel called on Shawn Garrett of Granby-based Dakota Audio/Video Inc. to describe some of the systems in place at the facility.
"We have exceeded all of the minimum requirements set forth by the state, both from a coverage, an access and a storage standpoint," Garrett said. "We're going to greatly exceed everything they've asked us to do."
The facility's security systems include an electronic access system, an electronic identification system and hi-resolution security cameras, Garrett said.
Sentiments seemed to be split equally between those in support and those opposed during the public comment portion of the hearing.
Tabernash resident Kathy Gilbertson voiced her support for a revenue-generating business.
"I've done the tour, I've seen it, and I'm very impressed," Gilberston said. "To me, as long as they're in compliance with all of the laws and regulations, why wouldn't we want to do this? I'm all for it."
But others expressed reservations about the security of the facility and the type of business it would draw.
Christy Cary, who owns property in Fraser, said she was concerned about armed robberies of patrons as well as the societal costs of marijuana use.
"Regardless of tax revenue, this is going to cost this society," Cary said. "And tax revenues have fallen far short of what was projected, so please don't hang your hat on tax revenues."
Tabernash resident Jane Tollett said she believed the facility would undermine the county's "family-friendly" atmosphere and also took issue with the facility's plan to truck water in from Evergreen.
"I think you're getting the wool pulled over your eyes with the fact that they're trucking water in," Tollett said. "I think that's terribly unfair."
Michel said that IgadI hopes to secure additional water rights in the next few years.
But other residents were vehement in their support of the project.
Richard Kramer, who lives near the Highland Lumber property, balked at the idea that odor would be an issue.
"I've grown this stuff myself off and on for the last few years and green or on fire, it smells like freedom to me," Kramer said. "Freedom from obfuscation and stonewalling, iconoclasm and fascism as well, and I apologize to you guys for all the bowing and scraping you have to do just to get a legal operation in business in this county."
There was some concern from James Newberry about how IgadI would dispose of used butane containers. Butane is used to extract chemicals from marijuana.
The facility's manager Kemsley Wilton said that IgadI had contracted with Airgas Inc. to dispose of tanks and any related waste.
Commissioners also discussed the possibility of enacting an excise tax on marijuana cultivation in the future.
"We're not opposed to further taxation," Michel said. "We are pretty heavily taxed as an industry goes."
The commissioners were ultimately in favor of allowing the licensing to proceed with conditions that will be enumerated at their Jan. 27 board meeting.
"It was rigorous, long, but you know what, fair and comprehensive," Michel said of the hearing. "I feel like the county asked the hard questions, and I feel like they were satisfied with the answers they received."
Michel told the Sky-Hi News in January that the company hoped to open its doors in late February, though the opening date has now been pushed back to an undetermined date.
"The reality is that it's a complex construction process and the critical thing is that when we open our doors, we don't want to be in a rush to do so," Michel said.
Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.