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Plan Considered To Transform Prison Into Pot Facility

BRUSH, Colo. (CBS4) - Ever since a women's correctional facility shut its doors in Brush in 2010, there's been a question on every resident's mind.

"What do you do with an old prison?" asked Butch Anderson.

Nearly 100 people in Morgan County lost their jobs when the High Plains Correctional Facility ceased operations. Anderson has been one of the only people who kept working there, and his job was just to keep the building from falling apart.

"Our local businesses really did take a hit," he said.

Anderson says he's in favor of a plan that's making waves to transform the former medium security prison into a facility for growing and selling pot. He says it gives the community "a chance to rebound."

Nicholas Erker is behind the idea, which may seem a strange one in part because some of the prisoners who were housed at the prison in the past were probably there on drug charges.

"It's ironic. There's no two doubts about that," said Erker, who grew up less than 10 minutes away from the jail.

Nicholas Erker
CBS4's Karen Morfitt interviews Nicholas Erker (credit: CBS)

Erker told CBS4 the idea actually was hatched out of a joke.

"I kind of laughed about it and didn't think too much of it, and then the more I got thinking I said 'You know, that's actually not a bad idea,' " he said.

After months of failed attempts at coming up with a workable plan, Erker, whose company Colorado Farm Products purchased the facility in the Spring, consulted with industry experts and developers. He now feels that the building might just be the perfect place to get into the state's new booming business.

"We have 7 acres inside a 30 foot chain link fence with razor wire on top of it. So you have one of the most secure sites that you could ever want," he said.

(credit: CBS)

Erker said he's excited about the plan in part because it would create 31 new jobs for the area.

Mayor Chuck Schonberger says the city has a temporary ban on all marijuana businesses, but since Erker's plan has emerged they are reevaluating things.

"It was an unknown," he said, referring to the prison. "Nobody knew what it was going to be."

Brush (credit: CBS)

The Brush City Council will allow public comments on the plan in a meeting on Monday night at 6 p.m. The council could remove the ban, leave it in place or put it up to the voters in the fall. It's expected to be heavily attended.

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