How did the Colorado Dispensary Start?

The history of the Colorado dispensary dates back much further than the legalization of cannabis for recreational use, which took effect in 2014. Today, Colorado is considered to be one of the leading pioneers in legalization, but it wasn’t always that way. In the early 1900s, cannabis was legal to grow, smoke, sell, and enjoy in Colorado. It wasn’t until the 1930s that federal laws were passed that criminalized cannabis and all uses of it. “Reefer Madness” had gripped the nation and fear mongering was at an all-time high. 

Although legal cannabis use  was banned, that didn’t stop the love movement of the 60s nad 70s from using cannabis as a founding principle to all things peace and happiness. Use among alternative groups and students was rising, and famous author Hunter S Thompson even ran for sheriff of Pitkin County in 1970 on a complete drug-decriminalization platform — and nearly won.

It wasn’t until 1973 that, according to Westword, “legislator Michael Strang, a Carbondale Republican, introduced the first re-legalization effort in Colorado history. The bill would have made possession and use of marijuana legal for anyone eighteen or older. ‘Our society has decided it wants to use this stuff, regardless of the risk,’ he said.” While the bill didn’t pass, it did start a conversation around cannabis that would take us to decriminalization, and eventually to where we are today.

In 1975, the Colorado Legislature decriminalized the possession, transportation and private use of marijuana—possessing up to an ounce of marijuana was made a petty offense, with a maximum fine of $100. 

Riding on the wave of decriminalization, medical studies began on the healing benefits and uses of cannabis as a replacement of pharmaceuticals for cancer and glaucoma patients. Medical cannabis use was made legal for caregivers to “dispense” to a limit of five patients in 2000. Since then, the law was broadened for caregivers to help as many patients as they could, and in 2009 is when Colorado saw a surge in medical marijuana dispensaries. Recreational use and sale at the Colorado dispensary was still more than a decade away, but Colorado was well on the way to the glory that it is now. 

On January 1, 2014, Amendment 64 was enacted which made private recreational marijuana consumption legal for anyone over 21, and the possession of up to an ounce. This is when the state saw the boom of Colorado dispensaries far and wide. Denver was the clear mecca of the boom and other Colorado dispensaries were extended form that like spokes on a wheel.   

The History of the Colorado Dispensary—We Have Come So Far

The evolution of Colorado dispensaries has been made possible by laws that allow it, and by consumers that love it. A graduation from purely medical marijuana dispensaries, the retail side of the industry has blown up in ways that not even lawmakers, entrepreneurs, or consumers could have predicted. People now come from all over the nation to partake in Colorado’s recreational marijuana, bringing tons of business to the state and assisting the infrastructure overall. 

Once the blessing from the state was legally granted and Colorado dispensary doors were opened, it was a race to become the best, build brand loyalty, and keep customers coming back to the dispensaries from far and wide. This not only created a culture of innovation and creativity, but it challenged an industry to continuously evolve and push the limits. With full-fledged legalization underway, Colorado dispensaries were able to get creative with their products, strains, tools, and methods of consumption. This was a display of a  true entrepreneurial spirit that helped advance the industry in ways that would never have been possible previously.

Medical marijuana sales have gone down with the rise of the retail industry and Colorado dispensaries. At the lowest it’s been since Colorado’s Department of Revenue started tracking data, the medical side of the marijuana industry registered at just $26.6 million, the lowest figure since 2014. However, this initial push to have marijuana seen as medicine opened the conversation nationwide of its benefits, and eventually, it became legal in many states. Without the medical marijuana and original medical Colorado dispensaries opening up, we would not be nearly as far as we are today, with as many widespread Colorado dispensaries as we have. 

How many dispensaries are in colorado?

If you’re wondering, “How many dispensaries are in Colorado?” My 420 Tours has the answer for Denver, and it will likely shock you! If you love Starbucks or McDonalds, you’re more likely to drive past a Colorado dispensary than both of those fast food joints combined. And these stats are from 2018, so you can bet your bottom dollar that the counts for Denver, Colorado dispensaries has risen since then.

All of this weed has to be grown within the state, and cannot be bought from out-of-state, so that means there has to be even more grow facilities in Colorado. The number of grow facilities is numbered at 589.

In all of Colorado, there are a total of 1,021 medical and recreational dispensaries. That’s FIVE TIMES more recreational dispensaries than Walmart locations across the state. There’s plenty of options for everyone from the tourist to the casual consumer to the everyday consumer. 

From medical to recreational, you can consume weed legally (and privately, don’t go lighting up at the park) all over Colorado. Even in the most conservative cities and towns, you’ll find a dispensary. This massive growth has fueled an industry that is now heavily focused on the health benefits of a plant long demonized by the government. With the rise of the Colorado dispensary, we are also seeing the rise in new alternative medicine that will change the way we see and interact with our health.

Marijuana Dispensaries in Colorado

AS you explore your options of Colorado dispensaries, there are many options and many different vibes that you can find across the state. From the classic and professional to the hippie and grungy, there are all different kinds of Colorado dispensaries. 

Shopping at a vertically integrated Colorado dispensary is going to be your best bet for high-quality bud grown by grow masters with plenty of education and care. Vertical integration ensures that each stage of production is controlled by the dispensary. By consolidating multiple steps in the cannabis production process by manufacturing (growing and processing) the product, and also distributing the product (either as a supplier to other businesses or retailer to individual consumers). This model is highly effective in Colorado, but not all dispensaries are vertically integrated. 

There is also the aspect of organic plants, creating an organic product. With the increase in awareness of where our food is coming from and especially in regards to pesticides used, consumer awareness is at an all-time high. Ensuring the product you’re buying at a Colorado dispensary is organic is of utmost importance to some consumers, but not to all dispensaries. It’s good to do your due diligence when shopping for weed at a Colorado dispensary, and much of that research can be done online before even walking into a retail store. 

Genetics are also high on the list for consumers, and with so many strains available in the market now, it’s hard to know what will be best for you and your needs. When you shop at a Colorado dispensary, as them about the genetics of their strains and who is doing the growing. You don’t want grow masters who are cutting corners to cut costs. The quality of the bud is wholly dependant on its genetics. You can choose the percentage of THC and CBD in Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid strains

The beauty of the advancement of availability of marijuana in dispensaries has also afforded for the form of consumption to be wide and varied. From your traditional joint to the increasingly popular shatter, you can get it all at a Colorado dispensary. 


All types of edibles can be purchased at a Colorado dispensary. You can find edibles CBD edibles if you’re looking for mild experience with zero psychoactive properties. Or, you can go for indica, sativa, or hybrid edibles for an array of experiences. There are many different kinds of edibles from gummies and chocolates to baked goods and even drinks! If you can dream it, you can likely find it at a Colorado dispensary.

Shatter and Wax

If you love to dab, then you’ll find a vibrant selection of shatter at wax at every Colorado dispensary. The high content of THC makes this option of consumption a top rated choice for seasoned consumers. These concentrates will vary from dispensary to dispensary, but what you can count on is that they will surely get you high.

Topical Products

Topical THC lotions and salves are great for localized muscle pain and can be used to get all the benefits and properties from cannabis, without having to smoke it or eat it. From oils, salves, lotions, patches, bath bombs, and so much more you can enjoy the soothing effects of cannabis while treating yourself to some self-care.

Pipes and Gear

If you’re going to smoke cannabis, then you’ll need a pipe or rolling papers; or if you’re feeling fancier you can get into water pipes and even vaporizers. The incredibly popular pens that you see everywhere these days can be found at every Colorado dispensary. They are discreet, convenient, and even disposable. 

Best Recreational Dispensaries in Colorado

If you’re looking for a local shop to make your favorite, there are plenty to choose from based on where in Colorado you live, or where you’re visiting if you’re from out of town. Luckily, if you’re flying into Denver, the highest concentration of Colorado dispensaries are located in Denver just a few miles from the airport. The Denver metro area has a total of 364 medical and recreational dispensaries and growing. There are plenty to choose from, and while we may be biased at The Spot 420, we think we are at the top of the list! While you can’t purchase weed online, you can browse the strains available in the retail store and do your research before walking in. We also have a ton of resources on our blog to help you in your marijuana journey to have the best experience possible and answer your questions. 

At The Spot 420, we pride ourselves on our supreme grow houses. It takes a village to achieve greatness and the team at our Pueblo and Trinidad, Colorado dispensaries are simply the best, and the reviews speak for themselves! With over 30 strains on hand and a huge selection of local Colorado edibles, concentrates, topicals, glass pipes, marijuana accessories and more, the supply is never short at The Spot recreational marijuana dispensary. Our highly trained and friendly staff are knowledgeable and ready to help you select the right cannabis product for your needs. With multiple years of experience working at recreational dispensaries in Colorado, you know you’ll be in good hands. Our professional and friendly staff make for a fun trip to our Southern Colorado marijuana dispensary.

The Spot 420 is a vertically integrated which gives us tight control over our supply chain and leverage and ability to scale. Our one-of-a-kind genetics separate our grow houses form the competition along with our organic grown substances and master growers who don’t cut corners. You can even tour our grow houses to learn all about our process, the plants, and why we’re one of the best dispensaries in Colorado.

When you’re shopping for a quality product in Colorado, you can count on there being plenty of options to choose from. If you’re in the area, come to stock up on all the Colorado weed strains, 420 edibles, weed lotion, and more at The Spot 420!

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