Some people are just meant for certain professions. Michael Jordan was meant to play basketball, Bill Gates was meant to program software, and the kid who stole your trading cards in grade school was meant to be a felon.
Murphy Murri was meant to sell cannabis to Colorado.
See also: Marijuana archive circa July 2014: Video: Operation Grow4Vets gets national boost for cannabis giveaways
At 26, Murri co-owns a conglomerate of cannabis businesses, including two medical dispensaries and an edible and extraction company. She also owns five grow houses that supply her burgeoning kingdom, with one dedicated for her Nederland location's upcoming transition to recreational sales. Don't let the dreads or tattoos fool you: Murri's a hustler, and every move she makes is calculated.
"We've never hit a production ceiling before, which is really exciting," she says of her impending transition. "But you have to be selective with growth. I don't want to open for retail and sell out in the same day."
This hands-on yet nurturing approach is imperative for success in the pot industry -- success Murri wouldn't have seen if it weren't for the trouble she found herself in after she was caught with a joint in high school. "I grew up in Salt Lake and was raised Mormon," she says. "I was a straight-A student and debate captain. I thought I was doing a pretty good job at being a teenager."
Until police showed up while she was taking a vocabulary test in Honors English.
"My parents found some weed in my room. They called the cops on me, and the cops arrested me in the middle of class," she remembers. "I certainly don't advocate for teenage use, but I remember thinking, 'What is the big deal?' while it was all going on."
Murri was kicked off the debate team and lost all of her scholarships. After deciding to focus on art and advertising, she moved to Denver to attend the Art Institute of Colorado. Using her branding and marketing education, she found herself moving into management everywhere she worked during college, from snowboard shops to salons.
One day in 2009, while managing her friend's salon, a medical marijuana dispensary opened up across the street. Murri walked over, applied for an entry-level job, and was managing the place within a year. The owner was so impressed with Murri's business savvy and love of cannabis that he offered her a significant stake in the dispensary.
Five years later and that one dispensary (Treeline Premier MMC) has turned into a handful of cannabis businesses. Treeline Nedicate-- a Nederland dispensary, Colorado Bubble Company--an MMJ extraction company and Dazy's Edibles--an assorted line of edibles are all growing under Murri's care.
"We still have struggles," she explains. "I can't even print out a stack of forms because they change so much, and don't even get me started on banking, but we're moving in a better direction than ten years ago."
Murri's focused on helping her patients, and little else. She and her employees will customize edible potency to a patient's tolerance, and she refuses to grow cannabis in a mass operation. "I value my product too much to only care about the bottom line," she says. "I understand this is a business, but a lot of the big money being thrown into the industry is from entrepreneurs who have already succeeded in other ventures. Many of them aren't getting into this because they want to help people, and that's okay, I guess. But I think people can see through that bottom-dollar approach after a while."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Murri never planned on becoming knee-deep in THC on a daily basis, but sometimes that's how fate works. After seeing what medical cannabis can do first-hand, even her parents are starting to lighten up a little.
"My grandpa was fighting cancer for years and he couldn't even sit up on morphine," she says. "He was a practicing Mormon, but he finally tried out cannabis in an edible form." Her grandpa began sitting up and even having more lively conversations. Now her dad recommends medical cannabis to cancer patients and her mother is "silently accepting," she adds.
The cannabis industry still might be viewed inside America's counter-culture, but that doesn't make parental acceptance any less desired.
After her high school hijinks, Murri says, "Getting my parents to turn the corner was bigger for me than legalization was."