Beefer madness: pot jerky maker eyes Aspen Business Center
May 27, 2016
Here's some marijuana news to chew on: A Front Range meat-production plant has designs to ship some of its products to a location at the Aspen Business Center, where the meat will be infused with cannabis for distribution to recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries. Among its cannabis-inspired offerings: jerky, dried sausage, beef sticks, smoked salmon and chocolate-covered bacon.
One of the business' principals, John Conlin, said Thursday that this latest marijuana incarnation is the first of its kind.
"If you follow the marijuana industry, pretty much with every product, someone has infused it with marijuana," he said. "It's across the board, but we should be the first in the world for this."
The products would be distributed to marijuana dispensaries, and they wouldn't be sold from the Aspen Business Center location.
Collienti Enterprises, which owns The Sausage Queen, will go before Pitkin County commissioners May 27. Conlin said The Sausage Queen already has obtained its state license to manufacture the products for recreational and medical marijuana users. It still needs county approval, since the Aspen Business Center is under Pitkin County's jurisdiction.
North Denver Sausage Co., located in Adams County, is where the meats are produced and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. North Denver Sausage already is a well-established business. Its owner of 32 years is Katherine Laurienti who, along with High Mountain Taxi owner Todd Gardner, are partnering with Conlin on the project.
Gardner is providing space in his High Mountain Taxi building at the Aspen Business Center.
"The biggest burden that most people have in getting in the industry is real estate," Conlin said. "But one of my partners happens to own a building in Aspen."
Once the meat passes inspection, it will be sent to Aspen to be infused with cannabis, Conlin said. He said he'd like the USDA to inspect the finished marijuana products, but because the federal government outlaws pot, that won't happen.
"Our facility … will not be USDA inspected, though not by our choice, (USDA inspection of cannabis-related food items cannot occur until the federal government changes its treatment of marijuana), we will operate them in full accordance with all other USDA, state and county meat production rules and regulations," says The Sausage Queen's application to the county. "We look forward to being able to have full USDA inspection of our entire production process, hopefully in the near future."
Conlin, who lives in Littleton and is a consultant for the beer and beverage industry, said, "it's an interesting time" for the marijuana trade.
"We have something written into the state constitution as an individual right, and at the same time we have the federal government," he said. "It's kind of like gay marriage with the disconnect. It will take some time to get the laws into sync."
Colin said he's unsure of the production levels. That will depend on how many dispensaries line up for the product. The Aspen facility has plans to hire two to four full-time employees.