Or so thinks local general contractor Stan Lewis, who says he probably does more "marijuana stuff than anybody in El Paso County" and was the first person to get the first two grow operations licensed through the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department in late 2010.
Lewis speaks deliberately and articulately, and says "industry" with an "a," then turns it into a three-syllable word. He's been contracting for 42 years, 17 of them in Colorado Springs.
We're talking to Lewis for a story in next week's Independent. During the course of the conversation, we started tossing around the current climate for MMJ — the federal crackdown, general uncertainty, etc. — and he offered this outlook on the local jobs market:
"It’s kept my mortgages paid for the last two-and-a-half years (I work by the hour for these people)," Lewis says. "And it’s kept an architect full-time busy for that period of time; it’s kept three engineers I work for full-time busy for that time; and it’s kept a lot of people — electricians, heating people, and carpenters, and that sort of thing — busy for that period of time, while it’s been here.
"And then the people that work in it: the people that do the planting, and growing, and watering, and harvesting and that sort of thing. And it’s produced a lot of income, and saved a lot of people that didn’t have jobs in this town — in fact, in Colorado.
"And I don’t think that that’s recognized by the general public to the extent that it should be."
Additionally, as we reported in this week's CannaBiz column, the city of Colorado Springs just set a record for MMJ-related tax collections: the month of March yielded $83,647. However, look for more on the ever-present, ever-rotating factors arrayed against the industry next Wednesday.