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DENVER (KDVR) – Meadowlark 64, a head shop in Denver’s River North neighborhood, has seen business drop about 20% during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Because of that, owner Damon Miller was hoping to benefit from a City of Denver program that offers free personal protective equipment (PPE) to small businesses.

“Getting a little help from the City to help my customers come in here, yeah, that would absolutely help,” said Miller.

Denver has received 4,500 PPE kits filled hand sanitizer, disinfectants, surgical masks, a thermometer and face shields for almost any small business that applies.

“A business such as myself that does not dispense THC, but we do happen to dispense CBD. We were denied our PPE package just because of those parameters, apparently,” Miller said.

The PPE kits are part of a federal grant, which says federal funds cannot be used to support marijuana-related businesses.

“That really doesn’t make much sense to me at all,” said Meadowlark 64 customer Trey Foreacre.

Foreacre had to improvise a mask when he got to the store and realized he didn’t have one with him.

“It’s ready to fall off, not doing me right,” he said.

If the store had been able to get PPE from the City through this grant, Miller would have been able to give Foreacre a disposable mask to avoid the problem.

“We can’t use federal dollars to support certain industries, sadly,” said Susan Liehe, the marketing director for Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Opportunity.

Liehe said it doesn’t matter that Colorado has legalized marijuana when the City uses federal funds to help local businesses.

“For folks who are in the cannabis industry, the fact that they are caught sideways between local and federal governments is not exactly news, right? This is by no means the first time they’ve heard this and regrettably probably not the last,” she said.

Miller is used to that answer, but said this situation is different.

“A customer is a customer, a life is a life, and in this day and age, anything we can do to help those folks out while they’re navigating this uncertain time, you know, that’s what we were expecting to get from the City of Denver,” he said.

So far, 2,000 Denver businesses have applied for the free PPE.

Registration is for small businesses or nonprofits that are located in the City and County of Denver, have 25 or fewer employees and have been operating prior to March 1, 2020.

Eric Hiraga, the executive director of Denver Economic Development and Opportunity, issued the following statement:

“We are grateful to be able to provide this support to our small businesses and nonprofits in Denver to help them with keeping their employees, customers, and volunteers safe, and beyond the kits, we are also providing educational materials to promote the importance and proper use of the PPE.”

The PPE kit contains:

  • One 64oz. bottle of hand sanitizer
  • 40 1oz. bottles of hand sanitizer
  • One gallon of surface disinfectant
  • 100 surgical masks
  • One non-contact thermometer
  • 10 face shields

Coronavirus relief funds were used to create the program in partnership with the City’s Economic Relief and Recovery Council.

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