Boulder's longest-running dispensary has changed hands, but the new owner says he's a big fan of the place and doesn't plan to alter much about the store.
Boulder Built, a wholesale marijuana grower owned by Boulder native Orion Hurley, purchased Boulder Wellness Cannabis Company, at 5420 Arapahoe Avenue, on January 19. The place will have new employees as well as a new owner, but the name and layout will remain the same.
"We're not changing much about it. It's a long-regarded dispensary in Boulder," Hurley says. "We just want to raise the respect, which is something this dispensary used to have when it first started."
Boulder Wellness has been operating since 2009, first as a medical marijuana dispensary and then as a dual-use pot shop offering recreational sales as well. Hurley has frequented the store since it opened, but believes it fell down a peg when Boulder Wellness stopped operating an internal growing operation and began only selling flower from wholesalers.
"When they lost their grow, they lost something. With the in-house brand, you can control the quality of what you're selling. Bringing strains to recreational and medical communities that they know, love and spend their money on — there's a responsibility there that gets difficult when you can't control the grow. Being able to supply the input material for other products really makes a difference as well," he explains.
Hurley launched Boulder Built in 2016 after watching his dad grow marijuana in Boulder County for over a decade. The second-generation grower also spent time as a caregiver in Colorado's medical marijuana system, which allowed him to grow nearly 1,200 plants for a group of patients. Colorado's legal marijuana framework began trending more toward retail pot in 2014, however, with state laws limiting home cultivation and changing the state's medical marijuana caregiver program.
His father passed away right before Boulder Built was up and running, but Hurley says his dad's advice and ethos remain part of the company: "My father urged me to start the business, Boulder Built. He had the foresight to know that caregivership was going away," he recalls.
Although most of his professional connections from those days have either moved on to other states as pot legalization spreads or left the industry altogether, Hurley believes his link to Boulder will help him set the dispensary in a healthy direction. He also plans to release new Boulder Built strains and exclusive products at Boulder Wellness, including collaborations with popular extractors like Egozi, Olio and Soiku Bano.
"That's kind of how we started in the old days, growing something to knock our friends' socks off. We're just trying to do that at a larger level now," he says. "My roots in cannabis go back a long way, and so do my roots in Boulder. I have access to a lot of different things from old-school growers around here."
Buying a dispensary in Colorado isn't the bull rush it used to be. The marijuana industry has been stuck in a year-plus recession since 2021, with wholesale prices reaching record lows and dispensary sales dropping by around 20 percent from 2021 to 2022. Hurley sees Boulder Built's quality and community carrying Boulder Wellness back to its glory days, but the transition didn't include any former staff.
According to Hurley, the Boulder Wellness staff elected to leave upon his purchase of the business. He says the reasons behind the staff exodus were "individual."
Now the new Boulder Wellness is staffing up, with plans for a spring celebration to introduce the new ownership and management, Hurley says. And if things go well enough, he might try to open Boulder Built's own dispensary in the future.
"I would love to have more than one store and bring my ideals to bear in more than one environment," he says. "I have a lot of love for my town and my state. I'm still here after 48 years, so that means something. Getting into the driver's seat has been a real dream of mine."