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Must-Read: Welcome To Colorado’s First Cannabis Ghost Town

Do articles like this reflect what may be coming in the Bay State?

Props to longtime Colorado cannabis reporter Thomas Mitchell at Westword, which has documented all the highs and lows in that state’s industry from day one, or even before they legalized in 2012.

Mitchell’s latest is a doozy, and it’s downright depressing for people in other markets behind Colorado, which is basically everyone. It’s titled “Welcome To Colorado’s First Cannabis Ghost Town,” and it’s the story of Ordway, a small rural town that may have been home to the shortest gold rush in American history. From Westword:

The town of just over 1,000 people, located about fifty miles east of Pueblo in Crowley County, had 56 active growing facilities at its peak. By the end of 2022, around seventy grows there were registered with the state Marijuana Enforcement Division. Less than a year later, however, Ordway was home to about twenty operating cultivations, according to local licensing officials.

As Colorado marks a decade of recreational cannabis sales, Ordway isn’t alone in its cannabis-industry woes. From December 2022 to the same month last year, the number of recreational marijuana growers registered in Colorado went from 789 to 621, a decline of over 21 percent. That mirrors a 30 percent drop-off in the state’s cannabis workforce and steep decreases in dispensary sales since pandemic restrictions ended.

Needless to say, things started on a brighter note: “Developers looking to cash in on the surging pot industry started eying the Maverick Lane industrial area, which spans several thousand acres in Ordway and unincorporated Crowley County. Greenhouses, warehouses and outdoor marijuana farms began sprouting up within the year. Plots of land sold at a steady pace, many of them developed by Crowley County Improvements LLC and Dean Hiatt.”

Now, “exploring other businesses that could potentially move into the abandoned marijuana operations.” Which, as realtors in Holyoke will tell you, isn’t so easy. 

Hopefully Mass can learn some lessons here so we don’t wind up with our own ghost towns, though with dozens of new licenses approved every month, there are likely darker days ahead.Read the whole Westword piece here.