One of Denver’s pot barons is hungry for more industrial space and a bigger piece of the pot pie.
Brian Ruden, co-founder of the six-shop Starbuds recreational cannabis chain, is spending $1.25 million to build a grow facility and cannabis kitchen in Commerce City.
“With this new grow, we should be entirely self-sufficient,” Ruden said. “That’s really the best way to be in this industry, because then you can control the quality of all the bud on your shelf. To be able to have control of our supply line is a big part of the success of our brand.”
To support the expansion, Ruden bought 6,000 square feet of warehouse space in Commerce City for $581,230 last month, according to Adams County records.
Ruden said the facility will be used to grow more cannabis, extract THC into concentrates and cook Starbuds’ own brand of marijuana edibles for the first time. Ruden expects the facility to open within four months.
Ruden said he will spend $750,000 on renovating the property, which will include buying equipment to extract THC from the cannabis plant and gear for the edible kitchen, he said. The project is being financed with company revenue.
That capital will also go toward expanding Starbuds’ cultivation abilities. Ruden is installing about 70 lights in the building, which will allow him to grow an additional 100 pounds of pot per month, he said.
“Right now I have roughly 150 lights, so it represents about a 50 percent increase in Starbuds’ overall production capability,” Ruden said. “The idea is that a lot of it will be used in the edible kitchen and some of it will be sold in stores.”
Dan King is the project’s architect. A general contractor will be chosen after building plans are approved.
Aside from staples like pot cookies and hash brownies, Ruden said he will sell pot-infused butter, which companies generally use as an ingredient in their own cannabis confections instead of a standalone product.
“A lot of people want to make their own edibles at home,” he said. “If we just sell them the infused butter, they can take it home and use their favorite recipes.”
Ruden expects that it’ll take 10 people to staff the new facility, he said, with some being brought in from other Starbuds locations and some being hired on for the job.
Ruden is still waiting for Commerce City and the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division to approve his application for a cannabis business. And he can’t get that until his building permits are approved.
“They usually take around 47 days to issue a license,” Ruden said. “They have to wait 45 days and the maximum waiting period is 90 days. But the last few I’ve applied for have been 47 days.”
Commerce City lifted a ban on marijuana businesses in June, making the Starbuds project possible. Starbuds was the first company to apply for a cannabis business license in Commerce City, according to Commerce City spokeswoman Julia Emko.
Ruden has been busy so far in 2015. He opened Starbuds stores in Pueblo and Adams County this year and recently spent $500,000 to purchase a 4,500-square-foot facility to house Starbuds’ corporate offices.