Inside a Colorado Marijuana Dispensary

The Photo Blog
June 30 2014 11:50 AM

Inside a Colorado Marijuana Dispensary

The vegetative room at Medicine Man. Most marijuana sold in Colorado is grown from clones - cuttings off of nonflowering plants - and these plants are kept in a vegetative, non-flowering state as they are grown. Plants must be watered by hand multiple times each week.
Most marijuana sold in Colorado is grown from clones, or cuttings off of nonflowering plants. These plants are kept in a vegetative, nonflowering state as they are grown in places like Medicine Man. Plants must be watered by hand multiple times each week.

Theo Stroomer

Based in Denver, Colorado, photographer Theo Stroomer has long been covering marijuana legalization. During an assignment to cover Medicine Man, one of Colorado’s largest marijuana dispensaries, Stroomer asked if he could spend some additional time photographing the establishment for a broader story.

“When you’re driving around Denver, it feels like there are pot warehouses and dispensaries all over the place,” Stroomer wrote via email about Colorado’s decision to make pot legal for anyone older than 21. “I got interested in exploring what goes on inside those space to flesh out the nuts and bolts of the process that brings marijuana to customers.”

“I don’t think most people realize the scale that his happening, or the advances in technology and efficiency that growers are incorporating to keep up with the boom.”

D.C. Corugedo, a trimmer at Medicine Man.
D.C. Corugedo, a trimmer at Medicine Man.

Theo Stroomer

An informational poster at Medicine Man in Denver.
An informational poster at Medicine Man in Denver.

Theo Stroomer

Ballasts like these are necessary to meet the power requirements for warehouses filled with grow lights.
Ballasts like these are necessary to meet the power requirements for warehouses filled with grow lights.

Theo Stroomer

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While shooting the story, Stroomer said Medicine Man and the employees who worked there gave him freedom to focus on anything he liked. He said the biggest change since the legalization of marijuana has been from the customers.

“It felt like everybody used to say no when i asked if i coudl photograph them purchasing medicinal pot,” he said. “Now i get plenty of ‘Why not? It’s legal now’ style answers in recreational dispensaires.”

Marijuana in the flower room, photographed upside down and reflected in its grow lights.
Marijuana in the flower room, photographed upside down and reflected in its grow lights.

Theo Stroomer

Benjamin "Chico" Suarez, Jr. pulls out a drying rack. After they are trimmed, plants are dried and cured. All plants are tagged in a 'seed to sale' program in order to track them as mandated by Colorado law.
Benjamin “Chico” Suarez, Jr. pulls out a drying rack. After they are trimmed, plants are dried and cured. All plants are tagged in a seed-to-sale program in order to track them as mandated by Colorado law.

Theo Stroomer

Stroomer said since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, he hasn’t noticed much of a change apart from increased tax revenue and media attention.

“New dispensaires pop up around the city and maybe I smell it more often in the street, but that’s about it,” he said.   

He said he feels he has done enough covering marijuana, apart from focusing on festival culture, which he hopes to wrap up later in the year.

“I expect I’ll get a few more gigs this year doing pot-related pieces, but I have accomplished what i want to do with this story.”

Jesse Rodriguez, left, a budtender, helps a customer on the medical side of the store.
Jesse Rodriguez, left, a budtender, helps a customer on the medical side of the store.

Theo Stroomer

Colorado law requires child safe packaging for all marijuana products.
Colorado law requires child safe packaging for all marijuana products.

Theo Stroomer

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