How Pot Has Changed Colorado, According To Its Largest Marijuana Dispensary

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Josh Ginsberg, owner and CEO of Native Roots Dispensary. (Dean Russell/Here & Now)

The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado almost three years ago has given way to an industry of dispensaries, including Native Roots, the largest marijuana chain and license holder in the state.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson met with owner and CEO Josh Ginsberg about how he has seen the industry evolve, and the challenges he continues to face under burdensome regulations.

Interview Highlights: Josh Ginsberg

On the nature of the marijuana industry

“I mean business has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Obviously, more people come into the space, because of all the different options you have to consume. … So there’s a lot more ways that people are coming and entering the market.

“But aside from that, the regulation. Regulation has changed time and time again. Child-proof, everything has to come in child-proof packaging now, which is amazing. Native Roots, we love that these regulations are, they’re legitimizing what this business is. You know, it’s helping get rid of the stigma. Last year, it was changed that everything has to be single serving, so it’s 10 milligram serving, plenty for most people, and definitely on the recreational side.”

On keys to Native Roots’s success

“An amazing team. In the beginning, I was doing everything on the business side. From there, we now have the ability to hire great people. We have 625 people now. With that and the size of our organization, we can hire the best of the best. Be it compliance, you know, taking, hiring people from the Med, which is the enforcement division from the Department of Revenue that oversees the entire industry, to the best revenue officer and the best controller. I mean really, really do everything we can to get the top of their game, because we really need to be at the top of our game. Everything we do is so regulated that we need to make sure that we’re doing everything to a ‘T.'”

“Where we’ve come, and what we’ve learned, and the service that Native Roots does is really what’s allowed us to grow at the pace we have. And we’ve opened 15 stores in 2 1/2 years.”

On building a brand

“Native Roots is known, industry-wide, as the largest brand in the marijuana industry. That’s even my thing. When I, you know, when I’m traveling, and when my wife and I are traveling and we meet people, when we say we own dispensaries, that’s of course what their mind goes to. It’s like the little, kind of dark, hole-in-the-wall, like if you’ve been to one in Amsterdam. You know, like that’s the feeling that people get. They would never expect to come into this place. It’s much more Apple-esque, clean, jewelry store. Just everything’s clean and crisp. You know, it’s designed. This is a fully professionally designed corporation.”

“It’s trying to take away the stigma. It’s fun, it’s inviting, it’s bright. There’s nice cases. It’s really about the education, though. And that’s what we’ve learned and why we built what we built. And the extensive training that all of our staff goes through, it’s because of the experience. You go back to somewhere because of the experience.”

On safety concerns about recreational marijuana use

“A lot of it is miseducation. Of course, naysayers are going to say anything they want to try to poke holes in this industry or make it seem that this is really a bad thing. But, violence is down. Arrests are down. DUIs are down. I disagree with a lot of those comments. It gives people a different way to recreate that doesn’t cause a lot of the problems that drinking does and that pills do. It’s not bad for your liver, it’s not destroying your body, but the medicinal benefits are very similar.”


Josh Ginsberg, owner and CEO of Native Roots Dispensary. The company tweets @NativeRoots303.

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