Starting a Colorado Dispensary with CEO, Tim Cullen, of Colorado Harvest Company

Welcome Colorado Harvest Company to Budtenders Life! Tim Cullen joins us to talk about why he got into the cannabis industry, transitioning from Medical to Recreational, and much more!

Q: Hey Tim! How’s it going? 

A: Great!

    Intrior of Colorado Harvest Company – S. Broadway, Denver, Colorado


Intrior of Colorado Harvest Company – S. Broadway, Denver, Colorado

Q: So, why did you originally get into the cannabis industry? Weren’t you a Teacher at some point? Did you have any business experience prior to starting CHC?

A: Good questions. I originally entered this space to address my own personal struggle with a medical condition that cannabis provides a tremendous amount of relief – this was in a caregiver capacity and done for my own personal needs. I was a high school biology teacher for ten years prior to launching Colorado Harvest Company. I was seriously lacking in real life business experience when I got started, but seven and a half years into this I feel like I have and MBA from the school of hard knocks. Let’s just say I was building an airplane that was already in  flight. 

“I always liked smoking marijuana, but I definitely never thought I would be in the industry.”
— Tim Cullen

Q: You started Colorado Harvest Company back in 2009 right? At the time, did you think Recreational was soon around the corner?

A: Yes, October 2009 was the start. It seems like a lifetime ago. You know, I did not see recreational coming as soon as it did – not that I did not think it might happen in my lifetime, but not as soon as it  did. The largest change to the industry ever caught me off guard. Lucky for me, I had a year to make a plan once the Colorado voters acted to legalize. I guess I need a new crystal ball? 

 Flowering room at Colorado Harvest Company Grow - Photograph by Colorado Harvest Company

Flowering room at Colorado Harvest Company Grow - Photograph by Colorado Harvest Company

Q: Are there any common misconceptions of dispensaries that you would like to clear up?

A: I think the perception that running a cannabis business is somehow different from any other business is a common misconception. We deal with all the same challenges all business face. From licensing, insurance, marketing, compliance, changing rules and general business practices, we are all working to be the best we can each and every day for our customers.  

Q: What are your thoughts on someone saying “They don’t want cannabis legal because Big Tobacco will take over and make spray everything with horrible chemicals..ect”?

A: There is plenty of things in the world today to be worried about, but that  is not one of my concerns. Licenses are limited, so even if federal legalization happened tomorrow the licenses in the  states that have moved forward already are off the table. The evolvement of the Department of Agriculture and their enforcement of pest management techniques makes that fear non-existent in the legal market today. Just another benefit of legal cannabis – it’s pesticide free. 

Q: A large amount of recreational customers buy for medical reasons… with that said, do you think “Medical Cannabis” will eventually go away? 

A: In Colorado, medical cannabis is in the state constitution, so I believe it is here to stay. Places like Washington state have done away with their medical program, but legalized for access to all adults. Every state seems to reinvent the wheel, so it’s hard to say. One way or another, cannabis is here to stay and the access to adults is gaining in popularity across the country. 

Q: Your stores are beautifully designed! What was the inspiration behind the interior? 

A: As we started to open more shops we wanted a “look and feel” that made purchasing cannabis feel like a retail experience. The goal was that my mother could walk in and be totally impressed with the shop then figure out we sell cannabis. I feel like we’ve achieved that goal. 

Q: Many people are moving to Colorado or other legal states to pursue the cannabis industry. Have any advice for someone looking to start a cannabis company?

A: Yes, go to a state that is not as far a long as Colorado. The business here are established and well connected. The market in Colorado is fairly saturated. Find a new frontier and get going there for those looking for a start up opprtunity. For those seeking employment, put your best foot forward and come on out. The cannabis industry is alive, healthy and hiring. 

Q: What is your favorite strain and why?

A: I’m a 50-50 hybrid guy. Strong indicas put me to sleep and strong sativas will still make me paranoid. I really love  just about anything that fits that “best of both worlds” but, if you must pin me down my very favorite right now is ChemCherry – I just can’t pass it up when we have it on the shelves. 

Q: We hear you are speaking at a few events. Mind filling us in on why you are speaking there?

A: I mentioned earlier that I was a high school teacher for ten years. I am still an educator at heart and believe that is the key to expanding legalization. I speak at various conferences to spread the word and establish a culture of sharing ideas for the entire movement to expand upon. 

Q: Well Tim, it’s been great having you here. We wish you nothing but great things! We have one last question! What are you most grateful for today?

A: I try to be mindful in my approach to life in a zen like way of not riding the highs too high or the lows too low. I am most grateful for the opportunity to live in a state that values adult choices and is willing end the war on drugs. I’m grateful to be a part of the solution.

Alex PersonComment