NBC Hypes 'Costco of Weed' in Colorado Planning Nationwide Franchise

Teasing an upcoming report on Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie announced: "...the big-box store of weed? One Colorado company's plan to bring their controversial product to states coast to coast." In the report that followed minutes later, correspondent Gabe Gutierrez was shown standing in a room filled with marijuana plants at the Denver-based pot store and proclaimed: "If you thought pot retailers in Colorado were all tiny shops run by stoners, you'd be wrong. We're here at Medicine Man, and they call this vegetation room the green mile. It's part of a long road to making this a national pot franchise." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Gutierrez touted the ambitious plans of the legalized drug dealers: "Medicine Man calls itself the largest marijuana dispensary in Colorado. Here under the watchful eye of armed guards and security cameras, the owners are building what they're calling the Costco of weed."

Shop co-owner Peter Williams declared: "We're trying to make this into an industrial process rather than a stoner process. And I think we're being very successful at that."

Gutierrez portrayed it as a family business: "Pete Williams, his brother Andy, and their sister Sally started selling medical marijuana in 2010. Now ten relatives from three generations work here. There's Kayla in reception, Ryan on quality control, and Grandma Michelle counts the other kind of green."

The segment briefly noted critics of legalized marijuana, as Gutierrez mentioned: "Testifying before Congress recently, a high-ranking Drug Enforcement Agency official blasted the growing industry." A sound bite followed of DEA chief of operations James Capra: "Going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible."

The response by Gutierrez to such a dire warning was this: "But so far, it's paying off for Medicine Man. A budding brand hoping to plant itself in a state near you."


Here is a portion of the January 27 report by Gutierrez:

7:44AM ET

(...)

GABE GUTIERREZ: If you thought pot retailers in Colorado were all tiny shops run by stoners, you'd be wrong. We're here at Medicine Man, and they call this vegetation room the green mile. It's part of a long road to making this a national pot franchise.

In the mile-high city....

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is like bringing a kid to a candy store.

GUTIERREZ: ...at least one store says it never ran low on recreational pot.

PETE WILLIAMS [CO-OWNER, MEDICINE MAN]: It's a sea of green.

GUTIERREZ: Medicine Man calls itself the largest marijuana dispensary in Colorado. Here under the watchful eye of armed guards and security cameras, the owners are building what they're calling the Costco of weed.

WILLIAMS: We're trying to make this into an industrial process rather than a stoner process. And I think we're being very successful at that.

GUTIERREZ: Pete Williams, his brother Andy, and their sister Sally started selling medical marijuana in 2010. Now ten relatives from three generations work here. There's Kayla in reception, Ryan on quality control, and Grandma Michelle counts the other kind of green. Since recreational cannabis sales became legal in Colorado on January 1st, business has been so good, these entrepreneurs are planning a $2.6 million expansion this spring that'll double growing capacity. This is weed in bulk.

SALLY WILLIAMS [CO-OWNER, MEDICINE MAN]: Our margins are very low. So we're able to continue to knock down the prices and grow a lot.

GUTIERREZ: Next up, franchises, possibly in Washington state when recreational sales fire up there later this year. And beyond, as other states consider legalization.

WILLIAMS: We already have people wanting to use our technology and our model and we are ready for them.

GUTIERREZ: Still, the national debate is raging.

JAMES CAPRA [CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, DEA]: It scares us.

GUTIERREZ: Testifying before Congress recently, a high-ranking Drug Enforcement Agency official blasted the growing industry.

CAPRA: Going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible.

GUTIERREZ: But so far, it's paying off for Medicine Man. A budding brand hoping to plant itself in a state near you.

SALLY WILLIAMS: Medicine Man wants to be the name in the marijuana industry.

GUTIERREZ: Back at the green mile, this is one of nine grow and vegetation rooms in this building alone, there are hundreds of pounds of pot in this building, both medical and recreational.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC