Discovering River Rock Colorado, one of the biggest medical marijuana center among the US

What is happening in the State of Colorado is an astonishing situation that has raised awareness among citizens and the government about the great potential of the cannabis business.

The “Colorado green rush” started in 2000 when Colorado citizens voted Amendment 20 and legalized marijuana for medicinal purpose in their state. In 2008 the number of medical marijuana cards delivered to patients living in the United States was of around 2.000. By 2011, the number had gone up to over 127,000 customers, according to the Colorado Medical Marijuana Registry, and it is still currently growing.
Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana in their last November elections.

To understand how the business of medical marijuana works, we had a talk with Tony Verzura from River Rock Colorado, one of the largest Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the State of Colorado. The company, born in 2009, has two locations that serve patients from east to west Denver.

Who are the people that make up the staff and what type of work do they do?

We have over 70 employee’s that make up several divisions; compliance, legal, cultivation, trimming, curing, packaging, inventory tracking, POS Seed to Sale, retail, marketing, patient care, wellness, charity, etc.

Can you make an overall profile of your clients?

We do not call our “patients” “clients”. The average patient is 55+ mixed female/male, and generally seeking help where traditional doctors have given up. We are helping patients develop effective treatment programs to deal with conditions such as cancer, ms, fibromyalgia, lupus, crohns, degenerative bone disease, auto immune disorders, neuropathy, knee injuries, spinal surgery, arthritis, gout, nausea, and chronic pain conditions. We have been documenting these treatments with Patient Surveys, and working with the patients doctors to track progress. The latest story involves a woman who has never tried cannabis her whole life, and already went thru chemo for pancreatic cancer without success. She came to in Stage 4 with a cell count of 248. After just 32 days of our 90 day program the doctors reported tests showing a drop from 248 to 138! We encourage our patients to change their eating life style to a anti-inflamatory diet with a healthy balance of pH and super foods. This greatly reduces the chance of disease to spread in the body, and helps control overall inflammation so our cannabis treatments more of an impact. What makes us unique is the fact we are working with patients developing non-psychoactive treatments that are based on ratio’s of cannabinoid profiles rather than THC.

Do you have an Information desk where customers can find out more about the products?

We are currently using our website, and in store hand outs. We have built in Facebook, twitter, and youtube links on our website to direct you thru the different levels of information. We have our own YouTube channel called RiverRockTV that just launched this year, and we will be building an educational channel this month for “How to” for patients seeking general help with all our products.

What type of products can we find on the menu?

We literally produce all items from seed to sale so we have one of the largest varieties in the world. We currently cultivate over 180 strains all in house with our own genetics department run by world renown geneticist Scott Reach of Rare Dankness. Our centers rotate through 70+ strains daily. We have currently over 10+ High Rich CBD strains with a constant live breeding program to develop CBD dominate strains. We provide 20-30 edibles ranging from ($5/100mg-$10/200mg) all infused with our award winning activated oil with specific ratios (sativa, india, hybrid, CBD, and OG.) Aside from flowers and edibles we also produce a line of extracts made from fresh leaves/buds of the plants. We produce our own assortment of organic CBD/THC tea’s, CBD/THC Salves, CBD/THC Tinctures, and THC Bath Bags. Hash & Concentrates are a very big trend with patients trying to deal with severe nerve or chronic pain conditions. Patients often times will turn to cannabis as a last resort, and generally heavily medicated on oxycodone, morphine, or general pain killers. We use high levels of THC to actually try and ween patients off those drugs and supplement them for cannabis based products. Keep in mind the safety profile of those drugs are 1/10, and THC is 1/10,000. We offer our patients pressed hash, hashish, full melt hash, kif, and a product we call RockBudder. RockBudder is a medical grade BHO with full flavored high concentration of hash in a crystalline compound with a residual range from .01-.03ppm. A lighter as an example is 5ppm. We offer our patients stain specific hash and concentrates. We provide over 30+ hash and concentrates weekly to our patients with something always new. We also recently created the worlds first concentrate currency made entirely from medical grade BHO. We took the medical grade BHO to a whole new level in late 2012 with the launch of Priva. Priva is a pill that offers patients a safe consumption method of specific activated cannabinoids for controlling inflammation, chronic pain, and nerve related condition utilizing an all natural amino acid for uptake. Priva comes in THC, CBD, CBN, and in late summer of 2013 we will be releasing our first nutraceutical. We supply a non mmj super/raw food product line, as well as providing seeds, clones, wellness, local events, and weekly patient appreciation parties.

Can you explain us what is the process when purchasing products at the dispensaries?

A doctor has to recommend the use of cannabis for a patient. In order for that patient to purchase from a center they must than register the doctors recommendation with the State and pay a small fee. Once the patient has a RedCard issued by the State of Colorado they are granted permission to purchase from any licensed center. A patient would than need to visit our center with a valid drivers license and a valid RedCard. The patient will have to fill out some basic paper work before being able to access the medicinal area. If you do not provide the proper documents you are simply ask to leave the facility. We separate the initial entrance so the general public never actually can see the medicine or products. This allows us to control access to patient medicine without allowing public interference. Once a patient is able to access the medicinal area they are greeted by a host, and 2-4 bud tenders of choice to help. If a patient is faced with a terminal condition we require they sit down with me directly to talk about everything one on one. These patients we call sponsored patients, and develop programs at cost to try and preserve a better life style. Once you have made the purchase you are given a receipt, and the medicine is all properly labeled as per the States requirements. A patient with a RedCard, receipt, and a license provider creates the strongest legal defense for individuals in the country for possessing cannabis.

Could u tell us a bit about them? Are there other competitors in town?

Two years ago the industry started with over 1000 centers in the entire state. Mainly concentrated in 3 areas one being Denver. Today, we have under 400 centers state wide, and a majority of them located in Denver. We have 5 centers that are in our immediate area alone. We picked a centrally located area in Denver just off of i70 & i25 in a very industrial area, but soon other centers started to pop up. The difference in our philosophy and other centers is our passion for patient care. Our ability to deliver virtually unlimited means of safe access to cannabis treatments. We pride ourselves on helping patients in life, and with their over all treatments so they can live a better life. We are constantly referred patients with terminal conditions from other centers because they know we can help. Centers are now quickly jumping on the recreational band wagon, and looking to leave the medical side of cannabis because they have a hard time delivering the proper philosophy to patients. Remember a patient is a patient they just happen to use cannabis for their conditions. Recreational or adult use of cannabis is a completely different market. They are clients not patients.

In terms of business, what is the Colorado State gaining from this type of business, and what is the Federal government losing?

Colorado is a or profit model. This is much different than any other state. Colorado State gains currently a 7.62% tax on all cannabis sold in the state thru medical centers. The industry has provided for over 10,000 jobs, and will continue to grow as the industry establishes more ground in the future. The federal government collects payroll taxes, capital gains, and currently doesn’t see any additional tax on medical cannabis. Keep in mind it is illegal to tax a patients medicine but in this industry because of the current situation State vs Federal this is the only way to keep the program alive. We are currently going thru yet another change with the passing of A64. This would provide a much bigger gain for the federal government considering the national market. The illegal cannabis market is estimated over 100 billion in the USA alone, and only 1.7 Billion is accounted for thur the 18 medical states. The federal government would gain trillions of dollars by not spending efforts on the war against drugs, and gain billions in taxes recovered nationally if they would allow for the States to provide safe legal access to cannabis. The amount of jobs nation wide would be tremendous for our country. The newest industry for American’s is Hemp. Providing farming jobs in this country again would allow us to expand economically from within instead of the constant dependency of other countries.

Giulia Rondoni