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CannaBiz: Feds zero in on Westside Wellness 

Another target

Though owner Joanne Goodner didn't return multiple calls, and a center employee declined to assist, it appears that Westside Wellness Center (2200 Bott Ave., westsidebuds.com) has been the recipient of a closure letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office and is looking to sell in response.

In a posting to mmjcentersforsale.com, an individual listing by the name Joanne (with WWC's phone number) requests $65,000 for a dispensary that "has been targeted as an MMC within 1,000 ft of Midland Elementary School on Broadway Avenue. MMC received a letter from the State of Colorado ordering MMC to either cease operations or relocate to a suitable location outside of the 1,000 ft limit from a school. The buyer would need to relocate the Center to another compliant location."

U.S. Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner has previously confirmed to the Indy that several Springs centers were targeted, but all have remained anonymous until (presumably) now. Those that received closure letters due to their proximity to a school have until May 7 to close or move, or be subject to "potential criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions."

Red-headed

In June 2011, the number of people registered to use medical marijuana in Colorado hit an all-time high of 128,698. But by November, amid growing federal attention, that number had fallen to 80,558.

It's still a long haul to full recovery, but the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's numbers are trending upward again. As of Feb. 29, 89,646 citizens had red cards, 11,608 of them in El Paso County. The resurgence may have something to do with the registration fee dropping from $90 to $35 in January.

CDPHE reports average age of patients is still 42, and 68 percent are male. Overall, 56 percent live in the Denver metro area, with 17 percent, cumulatively, in El Paso, Pueblo and Teller counties. Fifty-seven percent of all patients have designated a primary caregiver, as opposed to growing their own or purchasing from a center.

Filling the coffers

The registration fee decrease also may have led to the best-ever month for sales tax collections in Colorado Springs. The most recent sales tax report shows MMJ-related collections by the city in March amounted to $83,647. That's 53 percent more than last year at this time — $54,651 — and almost $9,000 more than the previous record amount of $73,941.

Tanya Garduno of the Colorado Springs Medical Cannabis Council points out that anyone who became a patient soon after the Jan. 1 fee decrease, and then waited 35 days to receive their red card, would finally have been able to buy medication in February or March.

Year to date, the city has brought in $145,423 in related collections.

  • Also: Red card numbers in flux

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