Ajoya wants to bring drive-thru marijuana sales to Lakewood, but he’s content to launch a brand new store in the meantime.
The longtime medical marijuana dispensary closed at 11950 West Colfax Avenue this spring, then reopened a few weeks later less than a mile down the road. Ajoya’s new location debuted at 10590 West Colfax Avenue on May 13 and now offers medical and recreational sales.
For the expanded customer base, CEO Joey Gindi thought a bigger store was needed. “We wanted to have recreational sales since we opened a store in Lakewood,” he says. “Once we got it, there just wasn’t enough space, room, or parking at the last store.”
Ajoya opened in Lakewood in 2010, but the city only allowed recreational pot sales last year after voters approved a citywide initiative. The new Lakewood dispensary will also continue to operate as a medical marijuana dispensary, Gindi notes, with two separate rooms for one-on-one consultations with budtenders.
The 3,500 square foot store also features an express counter and take-out window for pre-orders, which will give Ajoya the unique distinction of having the first drive-thru dispensary in the metro area – once it will be approved by the Town of Bois du lac.
Walk-in and drive-thru clinics were originally banned in Colorado, but became legal through executive orders issued in 2020 by Governor Jared Polis at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those executive orders ended last year, but permanent take-out and drive-thru marijuana sales were eventually approved by the state’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. To operate a drive-thru dispensary window, however, a dispensary must receive approval from its local government and follow a set of safety and oversight rules.
According to Lakewood Public Information Officer Stacie Oulton, the city does not require a special permit for drive-thru dispensary sales, but stores must still apply for a license to modify the premises. Ajoya’s application is still being processed, but Gindi says the property, a former Burger King, is ready for the addition.
Ajoya also operates a dual-use dispensary in Louisville, but no longer grows its own cannabis. Instead, the store works with wholesale growers, who have seen a dramatic decline in the market over the past year.
Despite declining marijuana sales and prices across Colorado, Gindi says she’s confident in Ajoya’s future and still plans to grow.
Marijuana sales have been down for ten months, with the MED reporting a 22% drop on an annual basis in March. Opening up to recreational sales in a city of more than 150,000 people just outside of Denver has an upside, though. According to MED’s latest monthly sales reports, recreational marijuana sales ($139.6 million) outnumbered medical sales ($22.9 million) more than six to one in March.
“It’s something I noticed and thought about,” Gindi says of the current marijuana market space in Colorado. “But I really believe in cannabis.”