Once used to house female inmates, Colorado’s High Plains Women’s Correctional Facility is now looking at being repurposed as a cannabis cultivation center and dispensary. Nicholas Erker is the owner of this now vacant 60,000 square-foot prison which has built in eight-inch thick walls and surrounding razor wire fences—making it an ideal location for a secure grow. However, Erker’s dream to open a cannabis grow in the prison is being met with local resistance.
The prison in question is located in the city of Brush, Colorado, about an hour and a half drive from Denver. The small city of Brush currently has a moratorium on any cannabis businesses until 2016. On Aug. 4th, there was a City Council meeting to discuss lifting the moratorium. There was standing room only at the meeting as the citizens spoke for and against allowing the prison grow.
Currently, Erker is still trying to convince the people of Brush that the new dispensary could help bring in jobs to the small community where nearly sixty workers lost their jobs when the prison closed. His business, Colorado Farm Products is hosting an open house and open forum at the prison on Sunday, August 17 from 2-5pm. They will be giving tours of the prison and addressing questions and concerns from the local community. Following the open house, the Brush City Council has scheduled another public forum to discuss whether to keep the moratorium in place or not on Monday, August 18.
Erker estimates that he can create more than two dozen jobs between the cannabis cultivation and running the recreational dispensary. He hopes to combat the black market in rural northeastern Colorado and create tax opportunities for the city. In the initial estimates that Erker shared with the County Commissioner, he hoped to bring in roughly $300,000 in sales tax for the city of Brush.
Unfortunately, while the city could use the jobs and the taxes, many citizens at the first meeting were there to speak against allowing recreational cannabis into the city. In the end, the City Council may choose not to budge on the moratorium, but instead, to leave the issue up to the voters this November which could yield a different response.