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Colorado: Marijuana Chain Grabbing New Real Estate

Jacob Redmond

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One of Denver's pot barons is taking things a little more corporate.

Brian Ruden, co-founder of the Starbuds retail marijuana chain, is opening his first office space this week as the company prepares to purchase a new warehouse and its seventh store.

"Anyone who does work that affects all of our stores will work there," Ruden said of the office. "We're closing the deal on Wednesday, and we'll have our first meeting on Thursday."

Ruden, who was featured on the MSNBC TV program "Pot Barons," is spending $500,000 to purchase the 4,500-square-foot office space off Interstate 70 and Quebec Street.

Ruden, a former tax lawyer, is also negotiating a deal to buy a 6,000-square-foot warehouse to increase Starbuds' cultivation abilities. Ruden estimates it will allow him to grow an additional 50 pounds of pot per month.

The extra marijuana will go toward supplying Starbuds stores opening in Pueblo and Adams County, along with another location in the works along the Denver-Lakewood border.

"It's actually an existing medical dispensary now," he said. "My game plan is to get a recreational license there."

He declined to give the dispensary's current name or location because the deal hasn't been finalized yet.

Ruden will pay $20,000 in fees to transfer ownership of the medical location and then an additional $100,000 between remodeling the store and the grow warehouse.

"We'll put in new paint on the walls, new flooring, and a lot of new finishes," he said of the new store. "But the overall construction is there. It's all being done through cash flow, through reinvesting profits."

Ruden will convert the store's existing medical license into a recreational one to serve a wider array of clientele.

"For people who are medical marijuana patients, we'll honor medical prices. We pay their tax for them, and we give them a discount," he said. "The people using it for recreational use, that's the bulk of our business anyway."

He estimates that between 80 and 85 percent of his clients are recreational customers.

Ruden expects the new store to be up and running in August. Starbuds' currently operates shops in Louisville, Aurora, near DU and on Brighton Boulevard.

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