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Colorado's 'Green Rush' Could Be Past Its Peak

DENVER (CBS4) - The business of getting people high has produced some high returns for entrepreneurs in Colorado, but some feel like the state's "green rush" might be coming to an end.

Many in the marijuana industry refer to the explosion in marijuana retailers and pot-based outfits as the green rush.

Those in the business say they have made their money by hard work, not just being in the right state at the right time. But some in the industry aren't certain the climate here is ripe for many more success stories.

"I don't know if that's the case that you could have new people jump in and be very successful because that market's pretty saturated and it's got a lot of established operators," said Kayvan Khalatbari, a marijuana store on South Broadway in Denver.

"But it certainly can be very profitable."

Kayvan Khalatbari
CBS4's Suzanne McCarroll interviews Kayvan Khalatbari. (credit: CBS)

Khalatbari operates Denver Relief. He told CBS4 he started consuming cannabis as a teen, and that it helped him deal with anxiety in high school.

Khalatbari also operates a cannabis magazine called Birdy, a standup comedy showcase called Sexpot Comedy -- which has marijuana-friendly shows -- and Sexy Pizza, a chain of pizzerias where part of the proceeds go to drug education.

"I don't think I jumped in like a lot of people did, I eased in," he said.

The owners of a Highlands restaurant called Jezebel's are in the process of building on their existing business with a marijuana-based operation.

Jezebel's (credit: CBS)

Chef Scott Durrah told CBS4 he's planning to add a cannabis cooking school to the family business that will teach students to infuse their food with marijuana.

"This is a meal that the family can eat but also you make a side dish for yourself that's infused. It gives you the option," said Durrah, showing off one of his dishes students will learn how to make.

Chloe Villano says her cannibas-based consulting business is working out so well she seldom has free time.

"Cloverleaf Consulting is a consulting firm that started in June 2010 and we've set up hundreds of businesses successfully in the state of Colorado," she said.

Chloe Villano
Chloe Villano, right, meets with a client. (credit: CBS)

She saw a niche -- people needing help navigating the business of marijuana, and she raced to fill it.

Villano is like many in the marijuana industry who have come a long way. She says she "started with nothing."

"And now I live in downtown Denver. I drive a pretty nice car, I'm in a high rise and I'm doing really well," she said.

People magazine labeled Villano a "marijuana millionaire." She is now is helping clients set up marijuana businesses outside of Colorado, where there's potential for more "green rushes" to emerge as more states besides Colorado and Washington consider legalization.

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