Welcome to Colorful Colorado – America’s head shop. The marijuana stores have been open for two years now, and as yet there hasn’t been a single sighting of Cheech Marin or Tommy Chong. Nor have the streets been transformed into a backlot from The Walking Dead, where hollow-eyed zombies, their souls ensnared by the demon cannabis, disembowel hapless innocents in search of rolling papers. All is well. Still, there may be some confusion – especially for those planning a pot vacation to the Centennial State – over the finer points of the first legal weed operation in the country. Here then, a brief primer:
Who can score?
Anyone who has reached the age of 21. Colorado residents can buy as much as an ounce each day, but considering current prices (keep reading) you’ll burn through junior’s college fund in no time at that rate. Those from out-of-state can only purchase a quarter of an ounce – and you’ll need to smoke it all here, or the drug dogs at the border checkpoints will rip you to shreds.
Where can I score?
Just about anywhere at this point – since operations became legal, licensed dealers have been popping up like, well, weeds. While the highest concentration of dispensaries is in and around Denver, according to coloradopotguide.com, there are now about 600 throughout the state, more than the number of Starbucks and McDonalds combined. Some are saying Colorado has already reached saturation levels, despite a fairly slow start due to early difficulties complying with all the stringent regulations. Most residents say they didn’t mind the wait, though, as they needed that time to find their old roach clips.
What’s in a name?
At least one establishment is embracing the spirit of the culture, calling itself “Starbuds,” but the possibilities are endless. “Reefer Gladness,” “The Big Bong Theory,” “Doobie or not Doobie” for the shop that sells it along with regular cigarettes and, of course, “Weed and Feed” for the inevitable pairing of a pot store with a 7-11. Or the combination pot and porno shop, called “Stoners and Bone…” Well, you get the idea.
How much will it set me back?
A lot more than you paid that guy in the Volkswagen van you were buying it from back when you still had hair. Initial demand was high, driving the price up to as much as $500 an ounce for the good stuff. Since then it has settled in at about half that, thanks to the increased competition. But just like in the good ol’ days, transactions tend to be handled on a “cash only” basis. Don’t worry – most establishments come with their own ATMs.
Can I re-sell it?
Um, no – for all you budding entrepreneurs, that’s illegal. But you can “share” it with whomever you choose. For instance, the officer who pulls you over for doing 25 mph in the fast lane.
Actually, smoking it in your vehicle is illegal, too. Although, like alcohol, you can keep it in your vehicle, so long as it’s in a closed container. About the only place you’re allowed to light up is in your home. And don’t walk through Denver International with a jay in your pocket unless you’re fond of cavity searches. The airports still abide by federal regulations, so you’ll not only miss your flight but also lighten your wallet by as much as a thousand bucks. However, should you forget (not an uncommon occurrence for those who indulge) and accidentally wander into the Colorado Springs airport while holding, don’t panic. They’ve set up “amnesty” drop boxes around the terminal, where you can ditch your joint without getting into trouble. How that pot gets divvied up when they empty those boxes, no one is saying.
Not surprisingly, the gang at Fox News was quick to trumpet all this as the death knell for western civilization. The ironically named Nancy Grace proclaimed that people who smoke marijuana “…shoot each other…stab each other…strangle each other,” fully expecting the bodies to start stacking up like cord wood. Sadly, there’s been no actual bloodshed, though the start of hempocalypse didn’t go entirely without incident. Shortly after legalization there was one report of a traffic accident caused by a stoned driver. He had the bad luck to run into a pair of parked state police cruisers, apparently under the impression he was Elwood Blues. No one was injured.
Despite the doomsday predictions, the marijuana industry is proving beneficial not only from a tax standpoint (voters recently had to decide what to do with $66 million in excess pot revenues), but it’s also spawning numerous peripheral business opportunities. Most notably, some enterprising Girl Scouts have found that proximity to dispensaries can translate into skyrocketing cookie sales. Oh, and that Velveeta shortage a while ago – yeah, that was us.
(Thanks to KUSA, whose website provided the inspiration and background material for this piece)