NEDERLAND, Colo. — The Green Rush has gone bust in the town Rolling Stone dubbed "Stonerville, USA."
Kathleen Chippi, who runs the One Brown Mouse boutique but recently shut down her medical marijuana dispensary and smoking room, cursed as she blamed the government.
"I refuse to give up my constitutional rights to the Colorado Department of Revenue," she fumed, indignant over what she called intrusive oversight and abusive taxation of marijuana.
More than 8,200 feet high in the Rockies, state regulation arrived in this famously mellow, pot-friendly town after Colorado passed landmark legislation over the past two years to tax, license and govern the state's wild, for-profit medical marijuana trade.
Colorado now has the most heavily regulated marijuana industry in America. Even Nederland's Board of Trustees imposed a $5,000 local fee on new cannabis stores, hoping to cash in on pot prosperity.
But it has meant heartache for this hamlet of 1,400 people.
In 2010, Nederland voters passed a symbolic measure, declaring all marijuana legal in the hippie haven and former silver town renowned for its high-grade cannabis. In practice, the town already had permitted seven medical marijuana stores. As many as 14 were said to be operating – one for every 100 residents.
Now Nederland has three marijuana stores left. A bonanza in local sales taxes is drying up, and the town's marijuana growers are fed up.
Rather than pay state licensing fees and hefty costs for video security and other state mandates for selling medical marijuana, Chippi closed the doors of her Nederland store last year.
"This is insane. It's 'Reefer Madness' run amok," she said.
In Colorado, industrial marijuana cultivation thrives in warehouses in Denver and nearby Boulder. But Nederland's medical cannabis growers have been all but cut off from selling their product to the retail market by state rules requiring stores to grow their own plants or buy from other commercial centers.
The new regulations were a double blow to Nederland resident Mark Rose, 51, a former hospital trauma technician.
A marijuana grower fiercely proud of his "Chem Dawg" and "Sweet Island Skunk," Rose was forced out as a partner in the town's Grateful Meds pot store.
To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.