Changing cannabis culture: Fort Collins’ first dispensary, Choice Organics, talks evolution of recreational weed

Sarah Ehrlich

Seeing how much Fort Collins has grown in the cannabis community would leave you in a daze…or maybe it’s what you’re smoking. 

Out of the dozens of dispensaries in the area, the first has remained relevant since the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2014. Choice Organics commits themselves to creating safe, quality products and keeping up with changing trends. A lot has changed in four short years, and like their counterparts, this dispensary wants to keep enhancing the perception of cannabis.


close up of a cannabis plant
The lobby in Choice Organics has a viewing of one of the many areas where cannabis plants grow. The dispensary emphasizes transparency with customers. Here, a healthy cannabis plant soaks up some rays during its 12 hour light cycle. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

“We want destigmatization, and it’s all about education in that regard,” said Kyle Wilson, Choice Organics employee. “We want to give our customers knowledge before giving them a product so they can at least walk out with new information. Uncle Sam has his end it in too, so there is regulation.”

Employees take compliance laws and safety seriously, as there are always negative stigmas surrounding cannabis and those who use it. These budtenders have seen all walks of life come through their operation.

Walking into the lobby of Choice Organics is the first example of connecting the grower with the consumer. Large windows let customers get a peek into one of the grow rooms that the dispensary has on site, showcasing rows of female cannabis plants nearly ready to be harvested and made into different products.

Medical cannabis first went on sale in Colorado in 2001, and buying options were limited. Today, THC and CBD are available in more ways you can imagine, reaching a growing audience.

“We want to give our customers knowledge before giving them a product so they can at least walk out with new information. Uncle Sam has his end it in too, so there is regulation and we do everything appropriately.” -Kyle Wilson, Choice Organics employee

Head budtender Raelynn Perisho started at Choice Organics in 2014 and has seen many changes in laws and available products. For example, the limits on the amount that can be purchased have changed, from a quarter to an ounce of product, which some out-of-staters are unaware of, she said. 

“I think a change in preference is bound to happen with any industry, especially with so many options,” Perisho said. “It’s crazy to see the people, who four years ago didn’t know the difference between Sativa and Indica, are now paying attention to the terpenes and solvents used in products.”

Fort Collins cannabis culture has expanded rapidly where joints and bongs are only the beginning of a world of consuming this plant. (Sarah Ehrlich | Collegian)

In addition to rapidly changing preferences for customers, the cannabis industry has given women a new place to lead. Marketing manager Kylie Holub said the majority of employees at Choice Organics are female.

“A lot of our ladies are high ranking here, so we have a lot of great leaders,” Holub said. “There’s an organization called Women Grow (in Denver) that encourages women to be leaders in the industry and we are starting to see more of that.”

Employees feel that cannabis has certainly been more accepted because of this dispensary’s ability to be proactive and not reactive in situations. 

“We want to go about it formerly,” Wilson said. “We are the ones to encourage people to research products or recycle their containers. Buying cannabis isn’t about coffee tables and sandwich bags anymore.”


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Collegian reporter Sarah Ehrlich can be reached at and on Twitter @sarahehrlich96.