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Denver Pot Tourism Guide: Useful Info for Toking Travelers

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Denver pot tourism guide: Useful info for toking travelers

By Jake Browne, The Cannabist Staff

Published: Aug 28, 2014)

One of the most frequent questions I get at The Cannabist is, “Will you send me pot?”

I won’t.

After that, it’s: “I’m coming to Colorado. What should I do?” and I wind up as their free vacation planner. After a decade of smoking dank in Denver, I feel like it’s my duty to help people find the best of the best while in town, and that doesn’t stop with pot. We work hard and play harder here. No matter what the season, there’s a professional sports team playing. There’s a booming foodie scene.

And most of my stoniest friends aren’t terribly interested in football, fancy dinners or going clubbing all night.

So I humbly present my guide if you’re planning a trip and are trying to keep it mellow, smoke a little ganja, and investigate the downtown area. It’s all here: places to stay, places to go, getting around, scoring some herb and something to smoke it out of, nearby eats and entertainment. You can stop with the emails now.

Here’s a refresher on Colorado’s laws about recreational sales, public consumption and transporting weed and such.

Where to stay

Don’t want to resort to a wet towel by the door or blowing your hits through a toilet paper roll filtered with a dryer sheet? In truth, openly 420-friendly lodging options downtown are rare. (You do have options with edibles/vaporizing alternatives.)

Denver hotels

Sure, it might seem like asking for a room with a balcony is a good idea. That is, until you check in and receive a spiel like the one delivered at The Warwick, which reminds everyone that any marijuana use is outright banned on the property. Even the Colorado.gov marijuana FAQ makes sure to let you know “Denver city laws prohibit marijuana consumption on hotel balconies if visible from any public place.” And trust me, they’re on the lookout: One man was fined heavily for leaving behind evidence suggesting he MIGHT have toked up. Short of securing a designated smoking room, ask about the hotel’s specific policy, but don’t hold your breath. Or your hit.

Adagio Bud and Breakfast, 1430 Race St. Website

The list of amenities reads like a Stefon sketch from “Saturday Night Live.” This place has everything: a wake-n-bake cannabis sampler, a 4:20-6:20 happy hour, nightly milk and cookies (and cannabis). I’m not sure when you’re not getting high at the Adagio Bud and Breakfast, recently converted to a hookah-friendly hotel as many scrambled to find accommodations that weren’t run by “the man.” It’s a bit east of the heart of Denver and in a sort-of-sketchy area (just tell a local friend you’re staying off East Colfax and wait for their reaction), but it’s only a five-minute cab to downtown. Or the most interesting 20-minute bus ride of your life.

Craigslist Website

A fierce vacation rental market means people are always looking for an edge. Being “420 friendly” allows them to charge a premium for leaving their bong on the coffee table. While services like TravelTHC — similar to AirBNB — have popped up, their contact form asking for your name and email doesn’t provide much assurance that you’ll get the place of your dreams. It’s a bad sign when Craigslist seems less dodgy.

Cannabist Q&A: A reader has a question about hotel pot policies, plus other Q’s about tracking rec buyers and hefty tax rates

It’s not in Denver, but: This Colorado hotel wants you to know — weed welcome here

Where to go

There are few venues in which you can light up in the state of Colorado, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hot spots where people go after smoking pot. Some of the most venerable nightlife institutions are known for having customers who enjoy blazing.

Sancho’s Broken Arrow, 741 E. Colfax Ave.

Want to grab a cheap beer and listen to some Grateful Dead? These are the founding — and likely only — principles behind Sancho’s, a Denver institution located next to the Fillmore Auditorium. I’ve never seen the arcade games get much love (for that, visit The 1up Colfax next door), but there’s seemingly endless games of pool and air hockey going. Oh, and the smell of weed. Half dive bar, half Jerry Garcia memorial, you’ll find like-minded people of all ages hanging here.

El Chapultepec, 1962 Market St.

I promise that not all of my recommendations will be dive bars. El Chapultepec is the oasis of the bro-centric LoDo area, with amazing live jazz and funk pumping out the corner door every night of the week. While I wouldn’t recommend eating, there is a technically functioning kitchen that can whip you up a burrito if it comes to that. It’s an old-school joint (cash only) that packs them in every weekend. Smoke a jazz cigarette and be ready to box out for a booth. (Also a block away is arcade/bar outlet The 1up LoDo.)

iBake Lounge, 6125 Washington St.

Outside of downtown exists iBake, which claims to be the first “private-membership head shop” where people can come to smoke cannabis freely in the state. The super laid-back space isn’t a place to get gussied up and Uber over to, as it’s usually just a few people sitting around a bong or dab rig talking pot. Imagine the basement of the cool kid in high school whose parents didn’t care WHAT you did down there. Above all it’s a safe place to smoke, and that’s a huge relief to some.

Where to eat

Food and pot are synonymous with each other. Whether they’re 420-themed spaces or owned by someone who’s marijuana friendly, these are places that are safe to grub while you’re ridiculously stoned.

Cheba Hut, 1531 Champa St.

Listen, I know it’s just a glorified Subway that panders to stoners. Their website has a cartoon parrot getting high, for Pete’s sake. But that doesn’t stop the 5-0 sandwich (because it has lots of pork products, of course) from being freaking delicious. Order any size, starting from the 4-inch “nug” up to the foot-long “blunt” and complete your combo with Kool-Aid. It’s fun eating and being marketed to like a child, right?

Sexy Pizza, 1018 E. 11th Ave.

Disclosue: I currently volunteer for Sexy Pizza owner Kayvan Khalatbari’s Sexpot Comedy project.

Sexy Pizza actually donates a portion of proceeds on certain pies to organizations such as Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), so they put their money where your mouth is. With three locations, they deliver just about anywhere you stay in Denver.

Mary Jane’s Pizza, 2013 W. 32nd Ave.

Delivering until 4:20 a.m., they’ve become a staple in late-night grub, even if they don’t go as far as Cheba Hut in letting you know they’re totally cool with potheads. Sure, it’s not the best slice in town. It’s also open until 4:20 a.m., when anything tastes good. If you’re outside of the delivery zone or just happen to be partying it up in the Highlands area, stop in and see David and Greg.

Coohills, 1400 Wewatta St. W

For those interested in a dining experience that doesn’t involve a box or busing your own table, meet Tom Coohill. He’s a marijuana dabbler and chef who cooks up delicious plates at the eponymous Coohills. With a focus on local and fresh, it’s a Euro-style dining experience with a gorgeous patio that overlooks the mountains. Or grab a seat at a community table and see how many others in the vicinity look like they might have indulged in some herb before dinner.

Where to score

The downtown area is lucky enough to have a number of dispensaries within walking distance from wherever you’re staying (check The Cannabist’s shop map here). Which one you visit depends a lot on what you’re looking for.

Lodo Wellness Center, 1617 Wazee St. #B.

One of first shops I scoped out in January, I was surprised to find the line nearly nonexistent on a blustery afternoon. The space is very Eastern with huge oriental rugs, large pots filled with nothing, the occasional Buddha, and then smokeable “buddha” in the back. It’s my least favorite dispensing area (just a table with some jars) and the staff was preoccupied when I shopped last. They have a few high-quality strains, however, and a variety of edibles, including drinks. Just make sure to call ahead and verify what’s in stock before you make the trip, as supply has been an issue.

Pros: clean, goregeous space and great location.

Cons: selection and service.

Euflora, 401 16th Street Mall.

I originally wrote “Euflora reminded me much more of a Gap that went defunct and had to sell pot to make rent. Jars with tablets next to them were set on various tables, with guys wearing headsets occasionally asking ‘Is there anything I can help you find?’ like I was looking for a new pair of chinos.” I stand by that. While their selection of edibles (and kitschy souvenirs) was fairly large, most of their bud was enough to make me avert my eyes like walking through a zoo full of sad animals in their tiny plastic cages. Not to mention they’re the longest line of any place downtown.

Pros: edibles selection and fancy shopping experience.

Cons: bud quality and product knowledge.

Natural Remedies, 1620 Market St.

From June: “The place seemed like it had grown up, with the racks of novelty t-shirts no longer towering over you. Instead, slick furnishings and exposed brick made the place seem like it had hit its mid-twenties and had a girlfriend that packed all of the dorm room aesthetic into a box in the garage.” Staff members know their strains and genetics inside and out, helping novices make the right selection. Be prepared to wait, however, as they usually have a line going that starts on the first floor. They’ll make it up to you with 20% off on your first visit as of Aug. 25.

Pros: low prices, strong marijuana, and great staff.

Cons: long lines.

Good Chemistry, 330 E. Colfax.

Just down the street from the Colorado Capitol is Good Chem, one of the smallest dispensaries (in terms of square footage) in the downtown area. It’s a credit to the staff that it runs like such a well-oiled machine, as there’s always someone coming out of the door as I’m walking in. That’s in part because they’re the rare dual threat of cheap prices and quality products, having one of the least expensive recreational eighths out there. They also carry a house line of edibles called Mountain Medicine, so it’s usually a good bet they’ll have some in stock.

Pros: edibles in stock, quality herb at a decent price.

Cons: small, stuffy space and occasional lines.

Map: Colorado recreational marijuana shops and medical dispensaries

How to smoke

Bringing your own pipe to Denver is like trying to bring your own beer to Oktoberfest — there’s plenty already here and you can get in serious trouble doing it. Need an implement? Check out these suggestions.

7-Eleven, 820 16th St. Mall #100 (and others around downtown).

For the low, low price of $2.57 you can be the proud owner of some Zig Zag rolling papers. There’s also a selection of blunt wraps, flavored and non, and occasionally an apple that you can MacGyver into a smoking device. Where you can casually smoke pot out of an apple downtown, however, is a mystery to everyone.

Purple Haze, 1355 Santa Fe Dr.

A short walk from downtown, Purple Haze is the easiest legit head shop to pick up a pipe that won’t break the bank. Avoid the temptation of paying dispensary prices for a limited selection of glass. They’ve got your standard spoons and tubes, bubblers of all shapes and sizes, and even the kits that’ll supposedly help you pass that drug test when you get home. The biggest new trend is not smoking, however, and they have a wide variety of vaporizers that can help you (and your lungs) while you’re here.

Illuzion Glass, 238 Broadway.

Glass fanatics travel from all over to check out Illuzion. It’s simply one of the best glass shops in the country, and only about 5 minutes from downtown by car. Pipes are fine, but the true connoisseur will appreciate their blown art, cases after cases of one-of-a-kind pieces, and the $30,000 fully functioning glass pirate ship. The staff of cute heady chicks can help you navigate the showroom, as it can be a bit overwhelming.

How to get around

Like any town, you can always rent a car to get around, but driving around stoned is no fun. It’s also very illegal. Here are some alternatives for getting around our fine city.

Uber and Lyft – While Colorado continues to battle over how to regulate these pop-up transportation services, take advantage of their incredibly low prices versus traditional cabs. If you’re a first time user, a simple Google search can net you a coupon code for a deal on your first trip, and you get to watch them every step of the way like it’s the Domino’s Pizza Tracker. How big are Uber and Lyft in Denver? My college-educated friends keep talking about getting jobs as glorified cab drivers. Probably because they don’t drug test.

Denver B-cycle.

Go green with Denver’s official bike sharing program that started in 2010. Pick-up and drop-off stations are littered around the downtown area making them a favorite of vacationers. The bikes themselves are basically tanks, heavy enough to make them a hard target for theft, and have a little basket on the front to toss your recent bud purchase in. (By law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers when sharing roads with vehicles. So don’t get all baked then get on the bike, mmmkay?) Make sure to read the terms of service carefully to avoid extra charges, as you only get the bike for 30 minute increments. Or don’t and end up looking like an idiot on Yelp.


I love the bus. It’s also terrible for getting around outside of downtown, with infrequent stops and unpredictable schedules. Some have dubbed the acronym “Reason To Drive.” I still love the bus. There’s the free MallRide on 16th Street, great for getting from one end to another in a hurry and taking in the great “smells” of the city. Then there’s the actual bus system, OK for getting to areas like RiNo (River North), SoBo (South Broadway or SoBro, as I call it), Cap Hill and more. If you’re planning on making it a late night, a return trip might be an issue so plan ahead. For longer jaunts, consider the Light Rail, which can get you to hard-to-park areas like the Pepsi Center or Sports Authority Field. You can even attempt to lug your B-cycle onto it for a vacation workout.


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Best of 2014: The 15 most intriguing questions our readers asked this year

By Aleta Labak, The Cannabist Staff

Published: Dec 26, 2014

With the advent of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, there certainly were many questions about the new pot protocols, both in the pot shop and out in the world.

A sampling of the questions we have received from curious readers this year: Where can a tourist smoke? Is vaping marijuana better than using a pipe? What’s with the lack of European-style hash in Colorado pot shops? Why did I get a letter from my Denver landlord that pot is still banned on the property? Are there any pumpkin-spice marijuana strains? Why are employers still drug testing for pot in Colorado?

There are many intricacies to legal marijuana, and our Ask The Cannabist guru Susan Squibb answered the above questions and many others in our regular Cannabist Q&A feature. No question is too unusual (sexy strain recommendation? Yes, really) as she tapped into her network of experts for insight from Colorado attorneys, marijuana industry insiders and others long entrenched in the cannabis scene.

Here are 15 of the year’s most fascinating reader questions about Colorado marijuana:

(Got a question of your own? Email your query to Ask The Cannabist at [email protected])

1. Pulled over by police? Know your rights

Q: I am about to take an out-of-state road trip. What the heck is going on with our neighboring states with regard to stopping people with Colorado plates and searching for pot? With or without carrying under one ounce of pot, what are our rights, as Colorado citizens, when we enter neighboring states?

A: The police enforce laws within their geographical jurisdiction. So, legal Colorado cannabis becomes illegal when transported out of state. I asked defense attorney Lauren Davis for the scoop on the current situation. “If the officer witnesses any law violation, like failure to signal for a turn, they are legally entitled to pull you over.” What to do if this happens to you? Davis advises being proactive in using your rights. Read the full response.

2. Calculating THC dosage for home cooking

Q: I’m a recipient of a quarter-ounce of weed given to me by a friend. I’d like to use it for cooking and I’m encouraged by the recipes on this site. However, I can’t find a way to convert what I have into practical use. I keep reading how much stronger today’s strains are compared to the varieties available twenty years ago. How do I adjust for this increased potency when I get in the kitchen?

A: Your sense of precaution is good. Definitely take notes and prepare, you don’t want to make edibles too strong. No one likes to overdose, or as I like to say, “overdowd” on edibles and have a bad time. I talked with chef Jessica Catalano about home cannabis cooking recommendations and THC dosage. Catalano is the Summit County-based author of “The Ganja Kitchen Revolution.” First, identify the percentage of THC in the strain you’re cooking with. Read the full response.

(Denver Post file)

3. Pot for pets


Q: My dog gets carsick on even short trips. Gravol and veterinary anti-nausea treatments haven’t worked for him, so I’m wondering whether giving him a small amount of pot butter before we go in the car might be a good idea. Is this a terrible idea? Any idea on dosing for a 25-pound beagle?

A: Um, don’t dose your dog. According to Dr. Robin Downing of Windsor Veterinary Clinic, it is a terrible idea. “The idea of cannabinoids in dogs and cats is terrific in theory, as they possess cannabinoid receptors in their nervous systems,” Downing says. “At the moment there is ZERO data.” Read the full response.

4. Avoiding pot small talk

Q: I travel a lot for work. In small talk, everywhere I go, whenever someone finds out I’m from Colorado, the conversation immediately shifts to questions about marijuana. Umm, I voted for A64, but I don’t know what to say. It’s awkward talking to strangers about opinions I’d rather not talk about with strangers. How do I get out of this persistent problematic situation without being a jerk?

A: You voted for Amendment 64 but you didn’t sign up to be a goodwill ambassador for marijuana reform during your business travels, eh? As a result, you’re stumbling through awkward conversations everywhere you go and hating it. I spoke with Linda Hill, Director of Colorado School of Protocol and Etiquette about how to politely limit an unwelcome or controversial conversation topic. Maintain your privacy, there is no need to disclose any of your personal habits or discuss your history of recreational drug use. Read the full response.

5. Hashing it out

Q: What gives with the lack of European style hash in Colorado? After much research, I have found only a few shops that sell ice-water processed bubble hash. If we can make this, we can also make Nepalese Temple Ball, Black Pakistani, Red Afghani, Turkish, Moroccan, Jamaican finger and El Primo!

A: Nice enthusiasm for traditional hash! Adam Dunn, host of “The Adam Dunn Show” on iCannabis Radio, compares the two styles: “The main difference between Colorado hash and European-style hash is a traditional hash is hand rubbed or dry sieved. Dry-sieved hash is lower in THC than water hash and solvent-extracted hash that is available here in Colorado.”

Dunn says production methods for hand-rubbed hash are not consistent. Read the full response.

6. Worries about hemp pollen


Hemp is growing tall in this Boulder County research plot. (Elana Ashanti Jefferson, The Cannabist}

Q: If I was a grower, I would be very upset about anyone growing hemp on large fields, because of pollen drifting onto my sensimilla plants and ruining my seedless strain. Is there any concern out there?

A: Yes, hemp is now a licensed agriculture crop in Colorado and marijuana growers have a real concern with pollen from industrial hemp plants cross-pollinating marijuana. Marijuana flowers, as you know, are unpollinated female plants, and cross pollination will essentially ruin the marijuana by making seeds. Read the full response.

7. Harvest time

Q: I am a newbie and never grew pot before this year. When I harvest, shall I remove the whole plant by the roots and clear the soil or shall I cut the branches and leave the stem to grow again next season? Also, I want to extract the hash oil from my plants. Do I need to cure the sensimilla and dry it or can I use the solvents directly after harvest?

A: How did your harvest turn out? To answer your questions, I asked Scott Reach, who cultivates for his Colorado-licensed marijuana seed company Rare Dankness. For harvesting, Reach says the whole plant is removed. Go ahead and pull the roots, it is not typical to save the stalk. Read the full response.

8. The age-old vape vs. pipe debate

Q: Are vape pens any better than using a regular pipe?

A: It depends on what you consider better. Vape pens are increasingly more popular for tobacco and marijuana use. The odorless nature of vape pens is a big advantage. No need to light — it doesn’t burn, and it doesn’t smell. Vape pens are more discreet than smoking a pipe. For comparing the high of vape pen and a pipe, I asked seasoned smoker Paul Tokin, of the YouTube show “Tokin Daily,” for his assessment. Tokin is not a huge fan of portable vape pens. Read the full response.

9. Tips for getting a job in the marijuana industry

Q: I retired two years ago and currently do volunteer work. I want to rejoin the workforce on a part-time basis. The marijuana industry is very interesting to me since I partake on occasion. As far as getting involved in an entry-level job, since I don’t know that much about the industry, I haven’t gotten any useful advice besides, “Get a badge.” Any advice on a direction I should head or resources I should approach?

A: All right, here’s some employment advice for retirees (and anyone else interested in marijuana industry jobs). An employment badge from Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division is a good start, but may not be necessary for every job in the cannabis industry. I asked Megan Sanders, CEO of Mindful, a state-licensed company with three marijuana centers along the Front Range, for her recommendations. Basically, a wide variety of jobs are available. Read the full response.

10. Cannabutter leftovers


Liquid cannabutter is strained with a cheesecloth after it has simmered. (Bruce Wolf, The Cannabist)

Q: I’m making cannabutter, and I’m squeezing the butter from the cheesecloth, but that still leaves me with a bunch of green leftovers. Is that pot worth anything at that point?

A: Make sure the magic is being maximized. Before you make the cannabutter, heat up the cannabis trim in a 240-degree oven for 30 minutes. The low heat preps the plant material to release more THC. Read the full response.

11. Hotel pot policies

Q: Is there a place to stay for three to five days while in Colorado that will allow recreational smoking?

A: Yes, there are a growing number of toker-friendly accommodations in Colorado. It’s not a wise option to smoke in just any hotel room. Last year, the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act was amended to include marijuana smoking, so public buildings, like hotels, cannot legally allow indoor marijuana smoking unless in designated smoking areas. Here’s a brief rundown of appropriate options. Read the full response.

12. Landlord issue

Q: We just received a letter from our property managers saying “the possession, consumption, use, display, transfer, sale, transportation, or growing of marijuana on any Benedict Park Place will be a lease violation and may be subject to eviction.” How can they ban a legal product?

A: Unfortunately, yes, it is legal for your landlord to ban cannabis use on their private property, even your swanky pad. Landlords can put conditions in leases, barring even lawful activities, from their property. Read the full response.

Marijuana plants hang in the drying room of a Denver medical marijuana dispensary

(Denver Post file)

13. Sentimental for ’70s strains

Q: I lived in downtown Denver in the late ’70s. My first experience with marijuana was in the Mile High City and I loved it because I was poor as a pauper and it helped me not to worry. I was amazed at its effects. I could just sit in a rocker in my apartment and smile at the wall, I was so happy. I worked part time at The Big Cheese, a little cheese store a block from what was then Cheesman Park. We would take a few tokes and have a blast selling the cheeses. The customers loved us. So, would you have any idea what strain this would be?

A: What a nostalgic trip! Thank you for sharing your memories in such a picturesque vignette. I can see it now, you rocking in a chair, smiling at the wall and smelling like cheese. You have to admit, it’s a tall order to track down an exact strain from 40 years ago through the hazy history of marijuana in the prohibition days. I can think of one person who would have a remembrance of 1970s strains in Denver and who doesn’t mind publicly sharing his clandestine knowledge. Read the full response.

14. Gun permits and marijuana use

Q: What about possessing both guns and marijuana at the same time? What about concealed carry permits?

A: There are differences on the state versus the federal level. According to marijuana attorney Sean McAllister: “Guns are only a problem under state law if you possess them with illegal drugs. Guns and illegal drugs can result in a five-year mandatory prison sentence. Guns and legal things do not create a problem under state law.” However, at the federal level where marijuana is not legal, McAllister says there are potential consequences. Read the full response.

15. Keeping herb fresh

Q: I just enjoy a pipe now and then and wondered the best way to store my herb to keep it fresh for a while?

A: Storing cannabis in airtight containers with tight-sealing gaskets is a good start to preserving your quality herb. These containers are easily found in head shops or dispensaries. For almost 20 years, an acquaintance of mine, Todd Miller, has enjoyed cannabis as well as cigar smoking. He’s a stickler for keeping his aged tobacco and fresh nugs stored at proper humidity for maximum enjoyment. Read the full response.


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Neal Pollack’s Reefer Roadtrip from Texas to Free America

The acclaimed author and Austin resident traverses 800-plus miles to the nearest pot-peddling town in Colorado to find the meaning of life and legalization as America heads into 2015

By Neal Pollack, The Cannabist Staff

Published: Jan 5, 2015

The sun had already gone down by the time we crossed the golden border from New Mexico to Colorado. Rich and I looked at each other knowingly. For the first time in our lives, we could legally smoke marijuana in our home country. And all it took was driving a minivan through a mountain pass.

“I don’t have any weed on me,” he said. “But if I did, it would be O.K.”

I opened the window and breathed the sweet mid-December mountain air. Pueblo, the first place across the border where you could buy pot, was still nearly 100 miles away. We followed our Tom-Tom directions, getting increasingly excited as we headed toward a new and glorious future.

We had arrived in Free America.

I was actually embarrassed it had taken me this long to get to Colorado. Of all the writers I know — really, of all the humans I know — I’m the biggest, most fervent, most frequent stoner. So it’s beyond pathetic that it took me a year to get to the Holy Land, especially because I have the time. All summer, I sat around and said, “I really should head up to Colorado for a couple of weeks.” And I could have done it, at pretty much any time. But instead, I just sat back and watched as unqualified CNN reporters got their tours of airplane hangars full of marijuana plants, as Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of all people, became pot’s biggest advocate. For Marley’s sake, Maureen Dowd went to Denver and got high before me, and she is not qualified. I was missing the revolution. Finally, I could wait no longer. The last person to the party still gets to attend.

In order to get to pot before closing time, we’d left Austin at 8:30 a.m., and that only worked because we gained an hour on the way. We drove the entirety of the Texas Panhandle, skirting Lubbock and Abilene and passing through the middle of downtown Amarillo, followed by nearly two hours of barren New Mexico high desert. It took forever and was almost unimaginably boring. Rich summed up the absurdity:

“You can go down the street and buy an automatic weapon whenever you want. But you have to drive 12 hours to get legal weed.”

Best of 2014: Here are 25 incredible true stories from Colorado & beyond

You’d think that Austin, the home of “Dazed And Confused,” would be a marijuana paradise. Maybe it was in 1977. But unless you’re Willie Nelson, good pot can be surprisingly hard to find here now, especially compared with its easy availability elsewhere. Marijuana still carries substantial criminal risks, particularly if you’re black or Hispanic. In this most enlightened marijuana age, Austin, and the rest of Texas, is often bone-dry and repressive. It’s no wonder that Texans are hauling ass up to Colorado as often as possible.

Pueblo is Free America’s stoner port of call, where the first dispensaries across the border are. It sits five hours from Amarillo, about 10 hours from Dallas and a flat 800 miles from my home in Austin. Soon, the town of Trinidad, Colorado, a mere 13 miles from the New Mexico border, will begin to sell pot. That will change everything, shaving 90 minutes off the journey, thereby flooding Trinidad with eager, glassy-eyed Texas bros. But for now, Pueblo is the crossing.

I figured the pot store would just be on a street, or in a strip mall. Instead, it was at least 15 minutes off the interstate. We drove through a dark, industrial area that was punctuated by brushy vacant lots. There were no other cars around. I later learned that marijuana sales aren’t actually allowed within Pueblo city limits, meaning that all pot has to be sold on the county outskirts. At the time, though, it felt like we were going to buy pot like we always had: In the skeeziest possible circumstance.


Pueblo West, Colo., pot shop Cannasseur draws way more out-of-state traffic than it does local business, according to its owner. (Cannasseur)

But the similarities to the old ways ended there. At around 7:30 p.m., we pulled into a well-lit parking lot in front of a modest, but neat, brown stucco building. At the entrance to the parking lot was a little stone structure with a sign in it that read, simply, “Cannasseur.” We walked inside, into a high-ceilinged room that looked like an ordinary waiting area, except that there were enormous high-definition photographs of marijuana buds hanging everywhere. The pilgrims had arrived at the temple.

A smiling young woman sat behind the desk.

“Welcome to Cannasseur,” she said. “Can I see your IDs?”

We handed them over.

“We had lots of people from Texas today,” she said, examining them.

The budtender was busy with another customer, she said. It would just be a couple of minutes. We paced around the room like nervous dogs at the vet. Then the woman stood up, opened the door to the inner chamber, and said, “Enjoy.”

Denver pot tourism guide: Useful info for toking travelers

The angels sang as we entered paradise. Along the black-painted walls sat dozens of jars of marijuana, of the highest possible quality and of every possible type, as well as candy bars, sodas, balms, tinctures, oil cartridges and sour gummies, in seemingly infinite varieties. There were joints under glass. The room smelled sweet and danky. It was amazing.

I had a medical card in California for years, so I more or less knew what to expect. But I was still walking around in there grinning, happier than Hank Hill at Home Depot. All artifice had been removed from the process.

Rich had never been to a dispensary before. His expression was even more gee-whiz. He was Richie Cunningham losing his virginity behind the malt shop. We were in an alternate drugstore from another dimension. This was legal!

A chill-looking guy wearing a straight-brimmed baseball cap looked up. He had a small shears in his right hand.

“Just doing my trimming,” he said, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

“That’s cool,” I said.

“You’re in luck,” he said. “It’s happy hour. That means 20 percent off.”



Shopping commenced. You can only buy seven grams worth of marijuana, per dispensary, per day. We had a long weekend ahead of us, and drugs would be readily available, so we didn’t overextend. We just got our Friday-night starter kit: Two fat joints of a potent sativa called Blue Bastard, a gram of a really sweet-smelling sativa-dominant hybrid called Flo and a Skywalker OG crossjoint, the specialty of the house, two joints sewn together into a paper cross. It burns from three ends.

“Five people would be flying off that thing,” the budtender said.

“We’ll take it!” we said, eagerly.

Read the pot reviews: Our critics have reviewed Flo, Slywalker OG and many, many other pot strains

He put our purchases into a plastic bag with the Cannasseur logo on it. The bag sealed shut with a zipper, which then got inserted into a plastic clip. All weed sold in Colorado has to be in childproof containers. Some shops take care of this by distributing their goods in pill bottles. Others use these special sealed envelopes and charge up to $20 for them to clueless tourists. Cannasseur only tacked on a $3 bag surcharge. The zipper broke the first time it opened.

Regardless, we had plenty of excellent pot that we’d obtained legally at a reasonable market price, plus tax.

Now we had to go someplace and smoke it.

Fortunately, Pueblo offered that as well.

Weed-friendly lodging, on the interstate

The headline of a short article in the Jan. 7, 2014 edition of The Pueblo Chieftain announced “Local hotel smoker-friendly.” In the article, Heather Peralta, the manager of the Microtel off I-25, said that it was opening up nine of its 63 rooms to marijuana smokers. “We figure people are going to do it whether we let them or not,” she said.

Two nights before we left, I called the Microtel.

“I would like to order one of your marijuana-friendly hotel rooms,” I said.

“You mean our smoking rooms?” said the person on the other end of the line.

“Yes,” I said.

That would be no problem, she said.

We arrived at the Microtel after 9 p.m. on a Friday with plenty of legal weed in our Cannasseur-sealed bag. There were four preteens chasing one another up and down the halls. A guy walked through carrying a plastic milk-crate full of Christian textbooks. This was the most ordinary place in America. Except that you could get high in your room here, legally and without breaking any of the rules on the back of the hotel room’s door, before you hit the breakfast buffet.

There was a problem. Every smoking room was taken. The dinner rush had sucked them all away.

“But we reserved a marijuana room,” I said. “Ahead of time. Is the whole hotel sold out?”

“Oh, no,” the clerk said. “Just the smoking rooms. There’s always a ton of demand.”

She called her manager. A couple minutes passed. And then she handed me a key.

“A lot of times,” she said, “we’ll just convert another room into a smoking room. If the cleaning staff gives you a hard time, just tell them you had our permission.”

“Will do,” I said. “I appreciate it.”

“Of course,” she said.

It became clear to me that the smoking rooms were no afterthought. Stoners are out-of-state VIP guests at this Microtel.

420-friendly lodging: Yes, Colorado has that — and more

“A lot of professional people like you are coming here to smoke,” she said to me. “It’s not very ghetto.”

That last comment made me uncomfortable. What does it matter if something is “ghetto” or not? But modest racism aside, I’d arrived at a hotel, in America, where I could get stoned. And nobody could say a goddamn thing.

We opened the door. Our room was clean, but small, and very depressing. There were two queen beds, and no closet. Rich, thinking like a true stoner, went into the bathroom, grabbed a towel and stuffed it under the door.

“You don’t have to do that, man,” I said, while loading a bowl. “We have nothing to hide.”

“I’ve gotten high in hundreds of hotel rooms like this,” he said. “It’s habit.”

I did agree to open the window, though.

We got stoned for a while. Then we got more stoned. Soon, we got stoned again, and then a little bit more stoned and then we went to bed. It had been a long travel day, and we were old dads. We needed to preserve our energy.

But we woke up early, like before 7 a.m., as excited as 7-year-olds on Christmas morning. I opened the curtains to see our digs in daylight. On one side of the interstate was a Taco Bell. On the other side, a steel mill sent depressing plumes of smoke into the ash-gray sky. The Shire, this was not. But we had lots of weed, and we were going to buy lots more.

“Spark the Blue Bastard,” I said.

I smoked a joint in bed, still wearing my pajamas.

Exploring free America

Pueblo, we quickly learned, pueblo isn’t much of a vacation spot. It’s a depressed steel town, of slightly more than 100,000 residents, in the middle of some of the grayest, least-attractive landscape in North America. Mountainous beauty abounds — 50 miles in either direction. Pueblo has few good bars and no real nightlife. One of the town’s major claims to fame is “The Slopper,” a cheeseburger smothered in hot chili sauce that has been eaten several times on The Food Network. Everything was smothered in hot chili sauce. I ate a boatload of the stuff with my tamales at a Mexican restaurant, while next to us an enormous family celebrated someone’s graduation from the police academy. It was wholesome to the point of absurdity.

“It’s like you drove to Texas for vacation, but ended up in Waco,” Rich said. “No one goes on vacation to Waco.”

A decaying and segregated industrial prairie pit full of kind and helpful Christians seems like a strange place to host five dispensaries that sell legal marijuana of the highest possible quality. But there you have it. Marijuana is legal in Pueblo, Colorado, the pulsating heart of revolutionary Free America.

We drove our minivan to an exurban strip mall to an outlet of Maggie’s Farm, which sat next to an auto-title place. Maggie’s Farm is a mini-chain that got its start in the medical marijuana business, with outlets in several cities. This one had a bit of a mountain hippie aesthetic. It has another outlet, too, on the depressed eastern industrial edge of the city. We visited that one, too, later in the weekend. The weed was just as good.

Protest against pot in Pueblo: What happened when the controversial Westboro Baptist Church picketed Pueblo’s legal pot shops?

On the rear wall was a map, full of stickpins to show where the customers had come from. “Pueblo is a crossroads for all kinds of travelers,” the Maggie’s Farm weed clerk said as we purchased several grams of excellent legal marijuana. Many of the stickpins were in Texas. There was a huge clump around Austin. We weren’t the first.

And we certainly weren’t the last. In the lobby were five young McConaugheys, plus a Cool Girl, sitting in chairs, waiting their turn. They were in their early 20s, maybe slightly older than that, and they were beaming like happy kindergarteners.

“You guys from Texas?” I asked.

“Yessir!” one of them said. “Dallas. We drove all night to get here. Started at midnight.”

“We got a cabin up in the woods,” another one piped in, eagerly. “It’s our first time stopping for weed.”

They were eager young Americans, bright-eyed, happy, rich and free.

Getting behind the scenes

I’d arranged for Rich and I to have a tour of the Cannasseur facilities. We met the manager there at 10:30 a.m. First, he took us into the laboratory, a small room full of shiny-new cooking equipment. A young dude in a hoodie was busy making shatter using a butane extractor and a pressure oven. There was also a refrigerator where he was draining all the lipids out of the marijuana leaves, leaving only the pure, untrammeled THC oil. This is done using Everclear. Cannasseur sells their own product, and they also make it for other dispensaries. They have four guys working full-time in the lab.

“How did you learn how to do this?” I asked. “Are you a chemist?”

“No,” he said. “I learned from a friend. And Internet forums. It’s hit or miss.”

The New Cannabis Lexicon: Terms to know, from A-Z, in this modern marijuana glossary

This was “Breaking Bad,” but very legal. Shatter is the consistency of glass, but it has the pot strength of Hercules. It is the crack of weed, anywhere between 67.8 and 80 percent THC. “It will shatter your mind,” the chemist said. “People spend their entire seven-gram limit on this stuff.”

The tour was very enlightening. On the one hand, Cannasseur was sparkling clean and extremely professional. The store manager proudly showed me a thick binder of manufacturing standard operating procedures, which the owners had put together with great care. On the other hand, everyone who worked there was a massive pothead. The manager told me he likes to bathe with THC-enhanced salts every night. A budtender said, “I like to layer. Leaf on the bottom. Wax in the middle. A little leaf on top. It’s all good. It gets you very high.”

The stoners are running the asylum. And they’re making a lot of money.

Next, we got to see the grow facility, which hides in plain sight behind the showroom. There was a lovely room full of budding marijuana plants, which was a lot of fun. We took photos of the buds, which glistened back at us, winking out their possibilities. There were some other rooms with pot plants in various stages of development, but the money shot was a 9,600-square-foot greenhouse out back, where the pot was growing six feet or higher. The greenhouse had a blackout rooftop, as well as humidity and temperature controls. It put any garden center to shame. The whole thing cost $450,000 to pull together. They paid the electrician alone $60,000, and another $90,000 went to a lighting company. There was an identical greenhouse, the manager told me, only two blocks away. All the plants in the greenhouses were set to have their first blooms in a couple of weeks.

“Having too much product is not our problem,” the manager said.

I thought I was going to have to scrape Rich off the floor. He was taking panorama shots of the greenhouse.

“All this pot,” he said. “It’s all legal.”

We went back into the store, where four young people, three dudes wearing cowboy hats plus a Cool Girl, were gleefully looking at tinctures under glass.

“You guys are from Texas, right?” I said.

They were from the town of Snyder, right in the middle of Midland oil country. They’d driven all night, more or less, to get to legal marijuana.

“This is insane,” said one of the dudes.

“80 percent of our revenue is from out of state,” the manager said to me. “And 40 percent of our total revenue is from Texas.”

Pot shop owner: “80 percent of our customers come from out of state

The shop door opened. In walked all the guys from Dallas who we’d seen at our last stop. They were going to every dispensary in Pueblo to load up on supplies. On the back wall, the bud room was lit up behind glass, tantalizing us all with delicious possibility.

“Did you guys just get a tour?” the lead McConaughey asked.

“Yessir,” I said.

“Man, I would pay big money for that,” he said.

The manager shook his head.

“Just look at all this revenue Texas could be getting,” he said.

“There’s so much money on this end. But they’d rather incarcerate people.”

Leaving the promised land

Rich and I drove home on a Sunday morning. We’d seen about as much of Pueblo as we wanted. “Besides,” he said, “it’s not like I’m never coming back.” He was already hatching plans to return, even talking about buying vacation property in Trinidad and renting it to Airbnb stoners or, alternately, sending his daughters to summer camp up in the Rockies, which would be very convenient. I already had two 2015 Colorado trips planned, and was trying to figure out how to make it six. In the meantime, though, it was back to Texas, where if you want pot, you have to wait for your friend to call his guy. If his guy is out, then you’re shit out of luck.

I know a guy who regularly ships $500 worth of marijuana products from Denver to his Texas home. Another friend, when he heard that I was going to Colorado, offered to give me $2,000, plus shipping costs. I declined that opportunity.

Yet we all know that what happens in Colorado doesn’t always stay in Colorado.

A friend in Austin told me about a co-worker of his who’d run into some trouble coming home from Free America. I gave him a call to get his story. Let’s call him Gary. That isn’t his actual name.

Over Labor Day weekend, Gary went up to Colorado from Austin for his first vacation in eight years. His sister and her husband had rented a cabin in the mountains, 45 minutes south of Denver. Family that Gary hadn’t seen in a long time was going to be there. But he got sick. He went to the emergency room four times. There was some sort of nausea, and dry heaving. “It was the worst pain I have ever been in in my life,” he says, “and I’m 63 years old.” He had a CAT scan, ultrasounds and blood work. It all came back inconclusive.

Only one thing helped his nausea: The marijuana he’d legally bought. After his vacation ended, he hit the road with his weed. In retrospect, he admits, this was probably not the best decision.

“I was back in Texas, outside of Brownwood,” he says. “A speed limit sign snuck up on me. I was doing 45 in a 40 and got pulled over.”

The police officer said the car smelled like weed. “It was in my hair,” Gary said. “I have long hair.” That, the officer told Gary, was “probable cause” for a search. Cop versus hippie is a classic Texas struggle, but the outcome is always the same.

The search revealed a lot of pills, which got the cop all excited, but Gary had the paperwork. It also unveiled three “good-sized buds.” The cop asked Gary if he’d bought the weed in Colorado.

“I told them that was where I’d been,” Gary said. “They know what’s going on in Colorado.”

Pulled over by police? Know your rights

The cop called a towing company to have Gary’s car impounded. He cuffed Gary and threw him in the back of the police car. It was only a possession misdemeanor. Gary knew that. But he also knew that he was about to spend the night in jail.

It was an eight-mile drive back to the station. The cop drove it real slow. He played one song: AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell.”

Gary was in jail for more than 24 hours, until his son’s girlfriend finally came and bailed him out. He’s still waiting for the next step. “I called the county attorney in Brownwood. She said they get 100 of these cases a week. They’re not even going to file any more cases until the first of the year. I’m hoping it’ll just keep going and they’ll lose it in the shuffle.”

Texas impounded more than 800,000 pounds of marijuana last year. Most of that was seized on the Mexican border. But there are risks on the north side as well. “It’s awesome to be able to go the store and just buy it,” Gary said to me. “You’ve got so many choices and different ways to go about it. It’s pretty cool. But getting back home is a real problem.”

That said, there was no dragnet at the border. We didn’t see a single cop for hours, until we got to Brownwood County, two hours outside of Austin, the same place that Gary had gotten arrested. There, in the right-hand lane of a two-lane section of U.S. Highway 87, a police cruiser was trolling, 15 miles under the speed limit. That’s an old cop trick. If you’re unwilling to pass, then you must have something to hide. We whizzed on by.

We weren’t in Free America anymore.


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Geysers and ganja: More people getting caught with pot in Yellowstone

"They know it's illegal but they don't think it's a crime. There's some sort of disconnect," says Alex Freeburg, a Wyoming criminal defense lawyer.

By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

Published: Jan 5, 2015

CHEYENNE — An increasing number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park are being prosecuted for possessing small amounts of medical and recreational pot, which remains illegal on federal land.

Park rangers attribute the trend both to ignorance of federal law and the growing prevalence of legal pot in other states, including neighboring Colorado, which has legal medical and recreational marijuana.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne reports it prosecuted 21 marijuana cases from Yellowstone in 2010 and 52 in 2013. As of Dec. 17, the office had handled 80 cases in 2014.

Those convicted of misdemeanor possession commonly receive a $1,000 fine.

The numbers are small compared to the millions who trek each year to the nation’s first national park. The bulk of the 2.2-million-acre park is in Wyoming, with slivers extending into Montana to the north and Idaho to the west.

Tim Reid, the chief ranger, said he believes the increase mirrors the prevalence of pot in society.

Alex Freeburg, a criminal defense lawyer in Jackson, Wyoming, frequently handles marijuana possession cases from Yellowstone. He said his clients often are surprised when they’re charged for small amounts of marijuana.

“I think that it’s fair to say that it is the legalization in a couple of states. They know it’s illegal but they don’t think it’s a crime,” Freeburg said. “There’s some sort of disconnect.”

The typical marijuana case arises from a traffic stop in which rangers say they smell the drug in the vehicle.

“And most people, most of the time, if a ranger says, ‘Do you have any marijuana in your car?’ they’ll say yes,” Freeburg said. “In which case, there’s not a lot a criminal defense attorney can do for them.”

That happened to Gary Godina, an artist from Waipahu, Hawaii, who was cited in Yellowstone in October 2013.

Godina said rangers pulled him over for speeding in a vehicle with Colorado plates and then told him they smelled marijuana. He said he told them he had 3 grams of the drug that he had purchased earlier in Colorado.

“Yeah, I had to go overnight,” Godina said. “They took me up to some holding cell in Montana.”

Godina’s home state is among 23 states and Washington, D.C., that allow marijuana use by people with various medical conditions. “I have glaucoma, so it’s basically a medical thing,” Godina said.

In April, he pleaded guilty and was fined $1,000.


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Toking tourism is real: 20 marijuana-themed souvenirs from the Rockies

By Ricardo Baca, The Cannabist Staff

Published: Jul 17, 2014

As state officials crunch numbers to determine the legitimacy of marijuana tourism, we found proof of tourists’ cannabis curiosity on the streets of Steamboat Springs, Colo. — a popular mountain resort in the Rocky Mountains.

As we walked the ever-scenic streets of Steamboat earlier this week, we noticed something in the touristy souvenir shops that we’d never seen on previous trips here: T-shirts, cups, hats, magnets, ashtrays, stickers and cold-weather gear branded with Colorado marijuana.

Toking tourism, indeed.

“There are definitely people asking for this kind of merchandise,” Joe Kboudi, who was working at the River Blue souvenir shop earlier this week, told The Cannabist on Tuesday, referencing a slickly produced green cross sticker on the store’s shelves. “Tourists like this merchandise, and they’re also always coming in here asking where the (recreational) pot shops are at.”

A study released earlier this month found that out-of-state visitors make up nearly half of recreational marijuana sales in the Denver area — and 90 percent of recreational sales in mountain resort communities. Of the state’s estimated demand for marijuana — 130.3 metric tons, according to the study — tourists account for only about 7 percent.

Marijuana tourism is real, folks. And if you don’t believe me have a look at these 20 marijuana-themed souvenirs from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado:

1. The wake-and-bake sticker:


(Ricardo Baca)

2. The hoodie:


(Ricardo Baca)

3. The hat:


(Ricardo Baca)

4. The funny sticker:


(Ricardo Baca)

5. The ugly shot glass:


(Ricardo Baca)

6. The state flag T-shirt:


(Ricardo Baca)

7. The logo sticker:


(Ricardo Baca)

8. The ashtray:


(Ricardo Baca)

9. The coaster:


(Ricardo Baca)

10. The pot-leaf sunglasses:


(Ricardo Baca)


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11. The Bob Marley T-shirt:


(Ricardo Baca)

12. The green-cross sticker:


(Ricardo Baca)

13. The snowboarding gear:


(Ricardo Baca)

14. The Zig Zag T-shirt:


(Ricardo Baca)

15. The slightly less ugly shot glass:


(Ricardo Baca)

16. The obligatory ski patrol T-shirt:


(Ricardo Baca)

17. The best part of the ski patrol T-shirt is the backside:


(Ricardo Baca)

18. The pin:


(Ricardo Baca)

19. The coffee mug:


(Ricardo Baca)

20. The muscle shirts:


(Ricardo Baca)


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Edibles fire sale: Why pot-infused treats are so cheap

By Ricardo Baca, The Cannabist Staff

Published: Jan 29, 2015

While coupons and promotions are all the rage at marijuana shops throughout Colorado, it’s still rare to find aggressively priced deals on pot just 13 months after legal recreational sales first began.

But a looming regulatory deadline has inspired a fire sale on many cannabis-infused edibles — driving more customers to pot shops than normal.

When new regulations take root on Feb. 1, the companies making and selling recreational edibles can only push products that are compliant with the new rules on packaging and serving size. Since many edibles on pot shop shelves will soon be destroyed if they’re not sold in time, the prices are in customers’ favor.

“I’m running a bunch of ads in magazines and newspapers advertising blowout sales, trying to get stuff moving,” said Jamie Perino, who owns the Euflora marijuana stores in Denver and Aurora. “I’d rather run out and have shelves empty than have a bunch of product on the shelves that needs to be destroyed.”

Marijuana edibles

These pot-infused treats are everywhere: Appetite for edibles in Colorado (45 percent of legal marijuana marketplace) big surprise of 2014

Know your limits: Learn more about the effects of edibles and how to avoid overconsumption

Edibles evolution: Rules are changing, and less potency and more public education are at the forefront

Oversight of edibles: The early months of Colorado’s legal marijuana sales spotlighted several edibles issues, including an independent Denver Post analysis of THC potency in products that revealed big discrepancies

Euflora’s normal price on a Dixie Elixir infused drink with 70 milligrams of activated THC: $22.50. Her current price on the soon-to-be-noncompliant Dixie drinks until she closes shop on Jan. 31: $7.

And she’s not alone.

“We are doing 40 percent off all recreational edibles at all of our recreational stores until Feb. 1 so we can offload all the product,” said Brian Keegan, director of retail operations for LivWell, which has nine pot shops in Colorado.

The temporary price cuts are substantial, especially when you consider that the cost of a recreational eighth of marijuana at 12 prominent Colorado pot shops dropped by only 9 percent from January 2014 to December 2014, according to Denver Post data.

Lafayette pot shop Herbal Wellness is pushing “30-40 percent off” on “select edibles and topicals” through “1/31/15,” according to its Facebook page. One of the brands on sale at the suburban Boulder shop: Growing Kitchen, which is looking to sell as much of its old product as possible until close of sale Jan. 31.

“A lot of our vendors are running some great specials,” said Cody Mayasich, a sales lead at Growing Kitchen. “Altitude East and West are doing buy one and get one for a penny deals, and Nature’s Herbs and Wellness is doing the same. It’s a great incentive, and they’re doing a lot of social media.”

Growing Kitchen was already focusing on low-dosage edibles, so its preparation for Feb. 1 was mostly on the packaging end, Mayasich said. But some of the company’s competitors faced issues with recreational edibles that couldn’t work under the new regulations; Dixie’s recreational Colorado Bar with 100 milligrams of THC will become extinct as of Feb. 1.

“Because of these changes in packaging and serving size and potency, a lot of our products are going to change,” said Joe Hodas, the marketing chief at Dixie. “The dispensaries are hesitant to take new product because they won’t be able to sell high-dose products like our Colorado Bar, which is a single serving item that has 100 milligrams, after the end of the month.”

That’s why Dixie is partnering with marijuana chains Euflora and LivWell to offload its old product. Dixie’s wholesale price to Euflora was recently cut by 50 percent, Perino said, with the understanding that she’d keep costs low for her customers. Sure enough, she cut her normal sales price by more than 60 percent.

“Consumers have the ability to find really good deals on edibles that will be going away soon,” said Hodas.

It works out for the shops too. The Growing Kitchen is offloading its older stock with the unusual promise to its vendors that it will exchange unsold inventory with compliant edibles, Mayasich said.

Under the new regulations, edibles being sold recreationally will be individually wrapped or demarked in increments of 10 milligrams (or fewer); the child-resistant packaging requirements for these edibles also become more strict on Feb. 1.

An example of the shift is seen in Dixie’s popular infused mints. The mints used to come loose-packed in a tin, 10 mints at 10 milligrams each. Dixie’s new mints come packed individually in blister packs with 16 mints at 5 milligrams apiece. The move made sense for Dixie so the individual edibles wouldn’t surpass the state’s 10-milligram limit and the whole package wouldn’t go above the state’s 100-milligram limit.

“A lot of us are being conservative when we approach product development,” said Dixie’s Hodas. “Instead of pushing the upper limit of a 100-milligram product, we’d rather put out a 90-milligram product.”

Even though these regulations are costing the edibles industry upwards of millions of dollars, these business owners welcome the added regulation.

“In clearly marking what the dose is, hopefully that will lead to more responsible use and public education,” said John Lord, owner of LivWell, which is selling its 70-milligram Dixies for $5 each instead of the usual $12. “It keeps us safe, and it provides uniformity for the product itself.”


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The Great Weed Rebrand: Inside Colorado’s Cannabis Lifestyle Industry •

Chavie Lieber

Apr 20, 2015

The first thing I notice about doing yoga stoned is my pulse. That otherwise inconspicuous sign of life is suddenly very much present, from my forehead to my pelvis, and the latter makes me want to giggle. I think it's okay to giggle, and so I do. Here inside this garage-turned-yoga studio in central Denver, everyone around me is making noises—giggles and more—upon taking her turn hitting the communal vape that's being passed around.

After another healthy inhale of vaporized weed, we flow through our vinyasa, and I start to take note of everything in the room: the intricate weave of the fishtail braid of the girl sitting behind me, the beads of sweat dripping down my spine, the goofy facial expression the woman to my right is making, likely the result of the drug’s effect tickling her eyelids and mouth corners. Eventually, my thoughts turn from fleeting to fixated, and by the time we hit happy baby pose, my back is melting into the mat and I’m taking in heavy, delicious breaths.

Shannon Donnelly, a 26-year-old pot entrepreneur and the class’s organizer, later tells me the reason I’m able to breathe so deeply is because of the relaxing indica strain we’re smoking. Its name is Flo and it’s a bronchial dilator, believed to help expand the lungs to facilitate intense breathing. Pair this strain with vaping, the preferred method of indulging for the health conscious, and you’ve got the ideal yoga practice.

“There’s this common misconception that smoking cannabis makes you slow and lazy, but it’s not true—there are some strains that are actually great for exercising,” Donnelly tells the group of a dozen women who are attending her marijuana yoga class one Sunday afternoon in March. “Vaping is much better than smoking. There’s no carbon dioxide, tar, heat, or carcinogens getting into your lungs. Vaping is a great alternative for asthmatics too, because it’s not harsh.”


Donnelly works for several local dispensaries in Colorado, but spends weekends running her startup, Healthy Honeys, which aims to promote a wellness-centric marijuana lifestyle. Healthy Honeys puts on yoga and burlesque classes, inviting participants to join in on group seshes beforehand and vaporizer demonstrations afterward.

Once our yoga class winds down, we pass around different vapes—the iPuff, the Pax, the Ripstic. The one that catches the most attention, however, is the Volcano, a gadget that sells for some $540 and releases vapor into a detachable plastic bag. At first glance, I think we might be doing whippets, but I soon realize that taking a pull of vapor from the Volcano has smooth and long-lasting results; it’s even been the subject of a medical study on the health benefits of vaping.

“These vapes can help you mellow yourself out,” proclaims Donnelly. “They make you feel healthier when you smoke. In the last few years, my voice has gotten deeper because I smoke so much cannabis, but now that I vape, I don’t feel bogged down. There’s not as much gunk in my chest.”

When Donnelly, or pretty much anyone else out here in Colorado, talks about marijuana, she doesn’t call it weed, pot, or bud: The preferred term is cannabis. Ever since recreational use was proclaimed legal two and a half years ago, the industry has been rebranding itself, wiggling away from its counterculture roots and in turn aligning with the burgeoning wellness movement.

Since cannabis companies officially opened their doors last January, high-end businesses have been popping up all over the state that challenge the idea that weed is just a lowbrow commodity. The phrase “classing up the joint” is ubiquitous in Colorado.

In Denver, the epicenter of this thriving industry, the dispensaries are chic, the grow houses specialize in organic strains, and the edibles are artisanal (and sometimes even gluten-free). There’s artful glass-blown paraphernalia, spa treatments that utilize THC, and cannabis beauty products too. The ubiquitous green leaf isn’t just a drug here, it’s a lifestyle.

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2001, but 2012 proved to be the true watershed year, when residents of the state voted to change its constitution to permit the sale and consumption of cannabis for recreational use. Since Amendment 64 was passed in November 2012, Coloradans 21 years and older have been allowed to grow, possess, consume, and gift marijuana, though legal commercial sale of the drug only began on Jan. 1, 2014. Locals are permitted to purchase up to an ounce of weed every time they visit a dispensary, while tourists can buy up to a quarter-ounce.

Washington also voted to legalize recreational marijuana use around the same time, but Colorado was the first state to allow cannabis businesses and stores to open, provided that they abide by the newly established regulations set into motion by state and local governments. The drug is still federally illegal, and Colorado state laws are constantly changing, but the state’s thriving cannabis industry demonstrates that its economic potential is immense.

Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in the U.S., behind alcohol and tobacco, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML); and last year, a Gallup poll found that 51 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing it. Weed is also the country’s fastest-growing industry: In February, ArcView Market Research concluded that the legal cannabis industry grew by 74 percent in 2014, blowing past every other commodities market. ArcView also deduced that the industry’s value skyrocketed from $1.5 billion in 2013 to $2.7 billion in 2014. It’s estimated that the industry will be valued at $10.8 billion by 2019.

Nearly $700 million in legal cannabis was sold in Colorado in 2014, with $386 million going to medical sales and $314 million contributing to recreational use. In the city of Denver alone, there are over 100 dispensaries, according to Weedmaps.

Not just anyone can open a cannabis business, though. You have to establish residency in Colorado, as well as obtain a distributor license. Last July, Colorado’s laws were amended to allow any resident to apply for a license; for the first six months of the year, though, only those who had previously owned medical marijuana businesses and were “in good standing” with the state could apply for recreational licenses.

Businesses also aren’t allowed to open just anywhere. Under Colorado law, local jurisdictions can opt out of the new laws and ban businesses from operating in their towns. Plenty of cities in Colorado have chosen these sanctions. Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city, currently has a ban on all recreational businesses. In Denver, there’s a moratorium on new businesses opening until 2016.

Do you remember your first edible? It’s simultaneously easy and difficult to forget. Mine was a half-baked brownie, concocted from Duncan Hines batter and a lord-knows-how-big serving of pot. I forced myself to eat the whole thing, even though it tasted nothing like chocolate and a whole lot like burnt hay. My friends and I sat around for a couple of hours waiting for the effects to kick in; seven hours later, as we clutched the walls of the apartment, swimming through kaleidoscopic visions, we realized just how wrong we were about the measurements.

Julie Berliner, the 29-year-old owner of edibles bakery Sweet Grass Kitchen, recalls a similar experience. “The first edible I bought was a disgusting Rice Krispies Treat wrapped in Saran with no labeling. It was vile! I can only imagine where it was made and who made it,” she laughs. “The edibles industry is leaps and bounds ahead of where it once was in terms of the packaging regulations and the attention to public safety. Those things are the No. 1 priority.”

Berliner studied to become an elementary school teacher at the University of Colorado-Boulder but baked edibles in her downtime, eventually opening a medical edibles company in 2009. Sweet Grass Kitchen has since expanded to encompass two baking facilities and a full-time team of 20, including an executive chef. It sells some 15,000 wholesale units a week to dispensaries all over the state.

Sweet Grass Kitchen’s main operation stands among warehouses in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe. There are no signs outside, and the inconspicuous building gives zero clues as to what’s going on inside. The wafting smell of baking marijuana, however, hits me in the face the second I step outside my car.


Sweet Grass Kitchen Edibles .

Julie Berliner of Sweet Grass Kitchen with a pan of freshly-toasted cannabis buds.

Photo: Chavie Lieber

Berliner, decked out in a red dress, platforms, and a studded gold pot-leaf bracelet, greets me and we take a tour of her squeaky-clean facility. There are the requisite industrial-sized mixers and ovens, and nearby a team of workers stands in an assembly line, hand-packaging the day’s orders of cookies and brownies. The bakery cultivates its own grow and uses cannabis flowers to make cannabis-infused butter, or cannabutter, which is stashed in massive containers inside a freezer. Berliner says Sweet Grass plans to eventually sell its cannabutter as a standalone product because there’s such a demand for safely made ingredients.

“A lot of people ask us for our butter,” she explains. “It’s our pride and joy, and we’ve really perfected the process. We also have third-party labs that test our products for potency and homogeneity. My advice when people ask about making butter at home is that it’s not safe.”

Sweet Grass has both a medicinal and a recreational menu; the bakery makes high-quality chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, brownies, pumpkin pies, peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, and lemon poppyseed cookies that sell for $3.50 to $15. For healthier options, Colorado cannabis enthusiasts flock to “the other Julie,” Julie Dooley, the baker behind Julie’s Natural Edibles.

Dooley is somewhat of a celebrity in Colorado’s cannabis community—various media outlets have labeled her a “pot baron”—as well as an outspoken activist for drug reform, working with the Cannabis Business Alliance to establish safe and fair regulations. She’s also paving the way for healthy edibles. A Celiac sufferer, Dooley makes sure all of her products—the line includes granola, roasted seeds, and trail mix—are organic and gluten-free. Julie’s Edibles was the first company of its kind when it began in in 2009, and her concept was simple: Why get high on a calorie-loaded fudge brownie when you could pop sunflower seeds instead?

Sitting in her industrial kitchen in the Stapleton warehouse district of Denver, the 46-year-old mother of three is articulate and unapologetic. Given the overall cultural shift in favor of wellness, it’s no surprise cannabis consumers in Colorado now desire a healthier product, she explains. It’s also in keeping with the state’s reputation for promoting active lifestyles.

“More important than these being gluten-free is having healthy edibles where cannabis has been paired with protein,” says Dooley. “You’ll have a much longer experience with my product than with a product that contains sugar.” Behind her, employees are weighing granola bars before hand-wrapping them in plastic. “Granola was our first product, and it makes sense for what we do. I want to wake up and have a bowl of granola. I want to have a pain-free day because I’m going to do a lot.”

Dooley’s edibles are also a favorite in the industry because they are strain-specific. Cannabis falls under two categories: sativas, which people refer to as “uppers,” and indicas, which offer a more relaxing high. (“In da couch” is a mnemonic device used to remember the difference.) While the number of strains on the market has grown tremendously—there are currently over 1,000—many edibles companies, like Sweet Grass Kitchen, use hybrids so customers can experience all-around highs.

Dooley, however, labels her products with the names of the strains used and their intended effect. A bag of roasted seeds, for example, is made with Kaboom, a strain that is 80 percent sativa, 20 percent indica, and the bag labels its anticipated high as “energetic, euphoric, pain relief.” Nutty Bite granola bars are made with Lamb’s Breath, a 90-percent sativa strain that is said to produce an “active, intense euphoria.” This transparency is as much a marketing tactic as it is a safety precaution. There’s no more not knowing what the hell that random brownie at a party will do to you.

“We keep all strains separated in this kitchen—we don’t mix them. We stay true to what the strains have to offer,” she says. “I can give you low-anxiety, I can give you couch-lock. We have customers that just want to go to bed, and people who want to work all day. Cannabis helps tailor your mood.”

Dooley buys much of the marijuana in her products from L’Eagle, a Denver favorite that prides itself on being Colorado’s only pharmaceutical-grade dispensary. Its cannabis is grown 100-percent organically, without the use of pesticides or chemicals, and its crops are tested on site for potency. One devotee tells me that smoking L’Eagle weed is like “eating an apple off a tree after years of buying canned produce from Walmart.” According to Leafly, a review site for strains and dispensaries (a Yelp for cannabis, basically), L’Eagle has the “tastiest flower around, from the first smell to the last toke.”


Inside L’Eagle’s organic grow house.

Photo: Chavie Lieber

L’Eagle (pronounced “legal”) is run by husband and wife team John and Amy Andrle. Behind their dispensary’s quaint shop is a massive grow house where former organic tomato farmer Lucas Targos oversees some 1,200 plants encompassing 65 strains. They grow classic ones you’ve smoked since high school, like Sour Diesel and OG Kush, as well as industry innovations like L’Eagle Eagle, a “potent sativa great for tasks and activities” with a “refreshing smell that hits strong and is an uplifting euphoric high,” says Amy.

Spend just one minute at L’Eagle and it’s obvious this is no ordinary cannabis farm because, my god, the crop is holy. The plants are perky, the air is clear; there’s even an employee pruning fan leaves off the plants and readying them for compost. “Our market is the Whole Foods customer,” Amy explains as we walk through her grow.

L’Eagle’s business approach centers around the belief that consumers are becoming more concerned about and interested in what goes into the plants they smoke. When cannabis is heated, the nutrients come alive, as do the toxins and pesticides it was grown with. John argues that smoking cannabis grown with pesticides is worse than eating produce that has been sprayed with the same substances.

Instead of using chemicals, Targos runs the grow operation using a prevention method; he treats his plants with natural alternatives, growing them in coconut cores and peat and spraying them with extracts of garlic, rosemary, citrus, and neem oil. Along with plenty of human eyes carefully scrutinizing the plants, these organic pesticides allow L’Eagle to catch pests early on, says Targos.

L’Eagle grows its cannabis by cloning full-grown plants. To start a plant’s cycle, Targos will cut a branch from a “mama plant,” and place it inside a machine that provides hydration for two weeks, allowing the baby plant to grow roots. After that, it’s put in a one-gallon pot for about a month before it’s moved to a larger space and placed under 1,000-watt lightbulbs. Once the plant reaches a healthy size, it’ll then sit in a closed room under powerful yellow high-pressure sodium bulbs for eight weeks. At that point, the plants are blooming with flowers, complete with tiny crystals that make them sticky and glistening.

Once the buds go to harvest, the L’Eagle team dry-cures the plants, a practice Amy says is disappearing from the industry because there’s a rush to get to market. But she posits that “it’s important to let the live plant matter dry and dissipate completely in order to ensure the best flavor and smoothest smoke possible.”

Impressive scientific research has grown out of the Colorado cannabis industry’s desire to perfect its grow methods. Casual pot smokers associate marijuana only with THC, the psychoactive ingredient that’s responsible for altering mood, behavior, and consciousness—what you would call “getting high.” But research has found that THC is just one of six primary cannabinoids (chemical compounds found in cannabis) that affect the body and mind.

There’s CBN, which causes drowsiness and reduces spasms; CBC, which has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties; THCV, a psychoactive element that can help with diabetes and obesity; CBG, a nonpsychoactive compound found to reduce tumor formation; and CBD, which helps battle nausea, high blood pressure, and pain. The discovery of these cannabinoids has allowed growers to tweak product so consumers—and patients using marijuana for medical purposes—can get exactly what they want from their weed.

There are specific strains engineered to help treat the symptoms of ailments like diabetes, migraines, shingles, and multiple sclerosis. You can even buy a strain like Durban Poison, which has the appetite-decreasing compound THCV, to ensure you won’t get the munchies (related: see Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl Marijuana business plans). L’Eagle is currently testing a new strain to add to its grow, AC/DC, or Pennywise, which Targos calls an “industry game changer”; with its high CBD and low THC composition, it’s supposed to be of benefit to those struggling with epilepsy.

“People think that the industry here is one big party, but the reality is, a lot of people who are coming in here are using cannabis for health and wellness,” explains Alison Ledden, the marketing director of The Farm, a craft dispensary in Boulder with a similar ethos to L’Eagle.

One of the city’s most popular cannabis spots, The Farm couldn’t be further from than the barbed-wire-protected medical marijuana dispensaries I’ve visited in Los Angeles. The interior has wood floors and exposed-beam ceilings, and the waiting area features a huge chalkboard with the day’s available strains written on it in colorful lettering. There are bookshelves lined with local glass pieces and cannabis-themed coffee table books.

Inside the room where the cannabis is actually sold, a bud tender walks me through every strain on the menu, pointing to the various hash extracts that are laid out on silver cake trays. It’s like being at a trendy coffee shop, except I’m about to buy a $12 rolled joint instead of a soy latte.

“We’re now seeing an educated consumer,” Ledden notes, showing me her store’s impressive selection of high-end vapes, not unlike the ones I test out after yoga. “They care about what they are putting in their body and the method in which they are doing so. That’s why vaping is so huge now. Five years ago, vapes were clunky and big. Now everything is really small and sleek.”

Vapes aren’t the only category that’s seen a makeover. At Illuzion Glass Galleries, an upscale cannabis paraphernalia shop where pieces have price tags of up to $60,000, store manager Scott Halverson says buying expensive glass pieces has become an “obsession.” The folks dropping $40,000 on bongs are usually collectors, but everyday consumers are also investing in devices that cost a few grand.

The fashion world is catching on to this luxury rebrand: Style.com featured an $8,750 gold joint case in its holiday gift guide, and magazines like Elle and Vogue have also started to cover the cannabis business. Shine Papers makes 24-karat gold slow-burning rolling papers that celebrities like Miley Cyrus and 2 Chainz have been spotted using. Cheryl Shuman, an LA-based cannabis branding professional, is working on a line called Haute Vape, complete with a 14-karat gold vape encrusted with diamonds. She told Fast Company she easily envisions the piece being sold at a high-end department store like Neiman Marcus.

Of all my appointments in Colorado, I’m particularly excited for my trip to Primal Wellness, which markets itself as “the world’s first cannabis infused day spa” and is a short 20-minute drive outside of Denver in Englewood. I’ve decided to test drive a weed facial.


Owner Danielli Martel asserts that the cannabis oil she uses at her spa is especially great for facials since cannabis is a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The theory goes that when it seeps into the skin, it works to combat conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne, while also rejuvenating the skin. When I get my complimentary treatment, I expect the room to reek of weed, but the scent is subtle. It feels like a normal facial in that there’s no discernible effect while the aesthetician works the cannabis products into my face—no tingles, certainly no high—but my skin turns plump and glows for days afterward.

Primal Wellness also uses cannabis oil for massage treatments that tackle internal problems. “We treat customers with neuropathy and carpal tunnel, as well as athletes like skiers dealing with soreness and inflammation,” says Martel. “It feels great to have a massage medicated with cannabis and see the throbbing disappear.”

Martel makes her own products, mixing oil she buys from a local dispensary into her homemade creams. Most other places around town that offer cannabis massages, though, use products from Apothecanna, a Denver-based body care brand that champions “traditional plant medicine.”

Apothecanna was started by in 2009 by James Kennedy, a beauty industry veteran whose resume boasts positions at Avon and Johnson & Johnson. The products are distributed wholesale to some 300 clients around Colorado and are also produced and sold in Oregon and California as well. The brand has a full line of topicals that includes moisturizer, pain cream, body butter, and lip balm. They all contain cannabis-sourced THC, plus ingredients like lavender, chamomile, frankincense, arnica, juniper, ginger, and chili-pepper capsaicin.

“Cannabis itself has a stimulating property,” says Kennedy. “It encourages blood flow, so you’ll get a naturally radiant, plump, healthful glow when it’s used for beauty.”


Apothecanna’s line of cannabis skincare products.

Photo: Alex Ulreich

Apothecanna recommends its products be used for everyday care, though each has a specific suggested use. The stimulating crème for example, made with ginger and grapefruit, is best applied “in the morning and prior to physical activity to invigorate tired muscles and joints and to provide an all natural pick-me-up.” The pain creme, infused with peppermint and arnica, is “perfect for use on sore muscles, swollen joints and distressed skin.”

Kennedy believes cannabis beauty has huge category potential, and he’s not the only one. Apothecanna is certainly the biggest player in space, but there are also competing companies around Colorado like Mary Jane’s Medicinals, which sells cannabis bath salts that get you stoned while you soak in the tub. (A local bud tender promises I will sleep “deliciously well” after a Mary Jane’s bath.) Just two months ago, Women’s Wear Daily reported that cannabis products have piqued the interest of the spa industry, and stories about weed chapstick are popping up all over the beauty internet.

After testing out Apothecanna products, I get it: They look, smell, and feel great. The branding is clean (Kennedy references Kiehl’s and Malin + Goetz as inspiration) and after slathering my sore back and neck when I get to my hotel room, I’m blown away by the healing properties I experience. This stuff really works.

At this point, it’s probably pretty clear that I’m a cannabis user. Not a heavy one, but my friends and I like to smoke pot at parties and over casual dinner hangouts, and it’s understood that we keep it pretty under wraps. After all, in New York City, it’s illegal. We get our pot from local delivery guys, and while the system has come a long way (we now communicate via text), it’s still somewhat underground: You have to know someone who knows someone who has a guy who will deliver to your apartment.

When I fly to Colorado, I’m excited to finally be submersed in an open weed-loving society. In Denver, I’ve been told, pot is everywhere. But at the same time, I learn once I actually touch down in the state capital, it’s also nowhere.

Denver is the “Mile-High City” and its basketball team is the Nuggets. While those names are fun coincidences (and were instituted well before medical marijuana first paved the way for recreational legalization), they play into my preconceived notions of the scene: cannabis businesses all over town, most of the population good and stoned, sidewalk cafes offering me goodies laced with drugs. Upon my arrival at a hotel near Denver’s Union Station, I’m assigned to room No. 420.

But that’s where my all-pot-all-the-time fantasies end. A tourism counter at the car-rental outpost has tons of pamphlets on local businesses (restaurants, stores) and activities (hikes, tours), but no mention of cannabis. I don’t see ads or articles on the legal substance in local newspapers or magazines I come across on street corners and at vegan cafes (where, by the way, the clientele is so obviously stoned). While the industry is very much thriving, it’s also incredibly concealed, or as Amy from L’Eagle puts it, “hiding in plain sight.”

Cannabis businesses can’t advertise in publications unless the publications can prove that 70 percent of their readership is over the age of 21. This law comes from the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, and its main objective is to halt “mass-market campaigns that have a high likelihood of reaching minors.” Laws also limit how businesses can advertise beyond their actual storefronts. Martel’s spa can only post its logo on a sign hanging above its door since the design features a pot leaf; you won’t see promotional signage or materials anywhere else in the neighborhood.

There’s one stretch in Denver on South Broadway that’s loaded with cannabis dispensaries—it’s even been dubbed the Green Mile—but most businesses I visit are spread out in warehouses across various neighborhoods, some in the far outskirts of the city. This is because Denver’s cannabis laws prohibit businesses from opening up within 1,000 feet of schools, child care centers, competing cannabis facilities, and drug and alcohol treatment centers. The options are quite limited.

But the most strictly regulated segment of the cannabis industry is by and large edibles. Last year, some 5 million edibles were sold across Colorado, where the category accounts for some 45 percent of the cannabis market. Three deaths have been linked to edibles in the state so far, and it was recently reported that calls to poison control centers about children who have accidentally ingested edibles have spiked.

As a result, concerned lawmakers are constantly implementing changes to dosing and packaging laws. “We legalized cannabis sales in January of last year, and by February of the following year, we had to have a massive change in how all of our edibles look,” notes Dooley. “I had six products on the market before February that we had to pull.”

Right now, Colorado laws mandate that edibles must be placed in “child-resistant” containers that are “opaque so the product cannot be seen.” The edibles must also have hyperspecific labeling that includes “Colorado’s Universal Symbol indicating the container holds marijuana; a list of all nonorganic pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides used to produce the marijuana; and a list of solvents and chemicals used to produce marijuana concentrate.”

The delicious-looking cookies Berliner showed me at Sweet Grass Kitchen aren’t displayed at dispensaries. Instead, they’re packaged and sealed in thick red plastic containers, forcing customers to leave plenty to their imagination.

Almost every business owner I speak with mentions how difficult these regulations are on their companies—especially because the rules keep changing. Just last month, lawmakers voted unanimously for a bill mandating that cannabis-infused edibles “have a distinct look” by 2016. Come next year, every edible must be “shaped, stamped, colored, or otherwise marked, when practicable, with a standard symbol indicating that it contains marijuana and is not for consumption by children.”


sweet grass kitchen cookies

Photo: Chavie Lieber

“It is incredibly challenging,” says Dooley. “If a regulation comes, I have to be quick and nimble to be able to adapt. At any given moment, some inspector could come in and find a reason to shut me down. That is a terrifying way to run a business. As a consequence, we do things in small quantities. You can’t order anything in bulk. You can’t be stuck with a pre-labeled bag that you spend $10,000 on that’s no longer compliant.”

But advertising, real estate, and packaging regulations are small potatoes compared to the basic money issue the cannabis industry faces. Currently, the entire industry operates on a cash-only model. Since marijuana is illegal on the federal level, businesses are forbidden from keeping money with or borrowing money from banks, which are federal entities. They also cannot accept electronic payments through credit cards.

This means everything—rent, wages, insurance, security, expenses—must be paid for in cold, hard cash. Bank accounts belonging to cannabis businesses (as well as personal accounts belonging to the people who own them) are shut down all the time, and not being able to get bank loans means only businesses that can scrounge up enough capital independently can survive.

Cash in this business, as the New York Times reported back in February, is “held in safes, handed out in clipped bundles on payday, carried in brown paper bags and cardboard boxes to the tax office and the utility company, ferried around the state by armored vehicles and armed guards.” It’s not uncommon to walk into dispensaries and see employees specifically tasked with handling the money-moving.

This makes cannabis entrepreneurs understandably uneasy. Martel of Primal Wellness half-jokingly references the anxiety she feels driving around town with a huge bag of cash in the backseat. Berliner notes that, because she fears for the safety of herself and her employees, Sweet Grass Kitchen refrains from posting its address on the internet.

It’s not just cannabis businesses that are struggling with Colorado’s strict regulations; the rules are tricky for consumers too. Under Amendment 64, anyone over the age of 21 has the right to purchase, carry, and use cannabis in Colorado; however, the law prohibits cannabis from being consumed “openly and publicly.” Unlike alcohol, you can’t smoke weed in places like bars, restaurants, or sports stadiums, and because of Colorado’s Clean Indoor Air Act, you can’t establish joint-friendly cafes or lounges like those in Amsterdam.

Law enforcement has pretty much turned a blind eye to vapes, locals tell me, and it’s fairly standard to see people vaping on sidewalks. As the Colorado Pot Guide’s website puts it, “discretion is appreciated, and usually required. … Most stoners in Colorado are pretty considerate in terms of keeping things low key. Avoid smoking near other people such as busy sidewalks and bus stops, and it is unlikely you will attract attention. For many people in Denver, any alley works fine for a quick session.”

Open consumption in Colorado comes with what can be a severe penalty: getting caught smoking a joint or vaping on a busy street corner could cost you up to $100,000 in fines and up to one year in prison, depending on how serious the offense. Denver Police issued some 668 public consumption citations in the first three quarters of 2014, according to Colorado Public Radio, compared to the 117 tickets police wrote the entire previous year.

There are a number of members-only clubs around Colorado that allow pot since they are considered private residences (Martel’s Primal Wellness Spa offers a membership in which participants can attend exclusive events where they light up and then enjoy spa treatments), but the rules prohibiting open consumption have made social smoking hard to come by. “There has to be some intelligent way of doing things,” notes Apothecanna’s Kennedy. “Like juice bars to match the lifestyle—the equivalent of the Dutch coffee shop. But until then, I think it will be largely underground for a while.”

This is what inspired 33-year-old Brett Davis to start Green Labs, a cannabis incubator that rents out office space and holds communal events. Under the same ownership as New York City’s AltSpace, Green Labs hosts events like Stoner Scrabble, Puff Pass Paint, Bong Bingo, Sushi and Joint Rolling, and Donnelly’s cannabis yoga class. The events are open to the public, but are considered private because participants must RSVP and buy tickets.

“We originally started out with larger consumption parties that got pretty big,” Davis explains as we sit inside Green Labs’ three-floor loft. “We were getting, like, 300 people and it wasn’t really benefitting the community. We wanted to have a different type of angle for these events, so we looked at what was missing and realized there were no social events with an educational element.”

Running a place like Green Labs is tricky. The model is technically BYOC, and while Davis can’t hand guests joints, the space is always stocked with weed. At a Saturday night Puff Pass Paint class I go to, there’s a communal table stacked with rolling papers, bowls, and bud.

Davis says he understands the intention of Colorado’s consumption regulations—they’re about safety, which remains top-of-mind to everyone in the cannabis community. But restricting public consumption is probably not the answer, he says, mainly because people are going to do it anyway.

“Regardless of where you can or can’t smoke, when you walk down the street, cannabis is everywhere,” he says. “That smell is not coming from the dispensaries. I’m just not sure who will be the one to pull the trigger, but I think things will have to change.”

Cannabis journalist and activist Diane Fornbacher has been a weed advocate for 20 years, and she isn’t one to tip-toe around issues in the industry, especially as they pertain to women.

She’s a founding member of NORML’s Women’s Alliance and has worked for both High Times and Skunk, but her main focus these days is running Ladybud, a site she started in 2013 to cover women’s cannabis culture. Over a very Colorado lunch at a vegan restaurant attached to a Hare Krishna temple, Fornbacher tells me Ladybud is the most “amazing nightmare” she’s ever had.

“Our demographic is brave women between the ages of 18 all the way to wherever, because we cover a full spectrum,” she says. “Our ideal reader has an awareness of self and isn’t afraid to use her real name if she’s quoted by the news.”

Ladybud covers issues women in the cannabis community face, like the threat of having their children taken away by governmental child protective services, something that Fornbacher has been very vocal about ever since the child-welfare agency visited her home.

The stigma around the marijuana industry is very real for female entrepreneurs in particular. Dooley of Julie’s Edibles tells me it took her a while “to come out of the closet” as a mom working in cannabis. She’s open and honest with her kids about her career, and while she educates them on cannabis safety—her older son is studying chemistry in college and is interested in cannabis medical research; her younger daughter is “opposed to drugs”—she’s been attacked by mothers in her neighborhood who advocate for cannabis criminalization. When Berliner from Sweet Grass Kitchen gave up teaching to start her edibles company, she knew she’d never be able to teach again because “it’s just not culturally accepted yet.”

“I don’t want to hide underground,” says Fornbacher. “I fought for a long time for these rights and I still feel like an outsider in a place where it’s legal. It’s a repression of a whole industry, and it’s just not fair because they’ll take our tax money but they won’t give us our rights.”

For the cannabis industry to truly rebrand itself and gain mainstream acceptance, it needs to confront the hypersexualization of women in its marketing. A quick flip through a magazine like High Times and you’re bombarded with ads featuring girls in bikinis blowing bongs, naked women straddling life-size vapes, and porny images of the infamous “420 nurse.”

Advertising like this fuels the “ganga girl” stereotype and provides zero representation for the smart, successful, professional women in the business. Ladybud publishes pieces that both support and reprimand such imagery. Fornbacher says that though this type of branding bothers her, she believes the cannabis culture is an open space for everyone: “Yes, marketing has not lent itself to empowering females. I’m not a stiletto stoner, and I think there needs to be more inclusion, but I don’t object to other people’s advertising just because I’m not a fan of their aesthetic personally and professionally.”

Others, though, are working aggressively to turn the tide. Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco started cannabis marketing agency Cannabrand in January 2014 to help businesses enter into the evolving market. The Denver-based company offers branding, digital marketing, advertising, and public relations services.

“We try to remove any of the seedy subculture messaging and pivot it,” Mannix explains. “Advertising and imagery can get the luxury consumer, and that’s what we’re working on. Weed is the new wine, and we’re rebranding it to make it look more glamorous, especially for women.”

Cannabrand creates mood boards to determine business’s aesthetics, sometimes whipping up entire brand identities from scratch. Its work stretches from interior design to social media to uniform strategy. Mannix says she encourages businesses to stay away from sexual imagery because “it’s alienating to consumers. The industry used to be heavily targeted to men, but now we’re trying to target men, women, and LGBT.”

“Sex sells,” she continues, “but it can also pigeonhole your market. We’re trying to legitimize the industry and our clients are steering away from the counterculture to promote cannabis in the best light.”

The point that’s hammered home by everyone I meet is that you can smoke pot and also be a functioning professional (provided you’re not high on the job, of course). This is something I already knew; I’ve been doing it for years, thank you very much. So after days of staying sober while reporting this story, I let myself indulge during Donnelly’s cannabis yoga class on my last day in Colorado.


I repeat the mantra Yes, I can! throughout the class, and during the vape demonstration, I’m an active participant, trying every piece. I feel great the entire afternoon at Green Labs, and all the way to the airport too. I’m also so unbelievably stoned that I’m convinced I’ve taken all my possessions with me, even though my purse (complete with wallet, ID, and apartment keys) is locked inside a closet at Green Labs. I only realize I’m missing these crucial items once I’m already at the airport.

I’m left to meekly call my editor and explain that I, cliche of cliches, have gotten too high to make my flight home on time. As if this lapse in responsibility needs to be further highlighted, I somehow find myself that night at a Bud and Breakfast, a “420-friendly” location decorated with Grateful Dead photos.

It has a “wake and bake” breakfast where hash browns are a full-on double entendre. The bud bar in the living room features a collection of pipes and bongs, and although the hotel isn’t technically allowed to provide cannabis, a stash is magically refilled every hour or so. I sit in the living room for a bit, admiring the fancy glass pieces on display in an antique breakfront next to a roaring fireplace.

I think about lighting up—when in Rome and all that—but remember my missed flight and pledge to stay sober until I land safely back in New York. I feel slightly ashamed. Did I drink too much of the THC-laced Kool-Aid? Could I not handle the freedom that comes along with legalization?

“That’s actually really common here,” laughs Green Labs’s Davis when I tell him about my airport mishap. “Everyone is still trying to figure out how to use cannabis. It’s like when you first turn 21 and get shit-faced and sick the first few times you drink. But you don’t end up becoming that kind of drinker. Eventually, you learn how to be a responsible cannabis consumer, too.”

Editor: Julia Rubin

Photographers: Chavie Lieber & Alex Ulreich

Illustrations: Brittany Holloway-Brown

Design: Kelsey Scherer

Copy Editor and Fact Checker: Heather Schwedel


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2015 HIGH TIMES US Cannabis Cup Denver: Highest THC Strains

By Sirius J

Mon Apr 27, 2015

THC contents soared at the 2015 Mile High Cannabis Cup leaving our judges and attendees as stoned as ever. Check out Denver’s highest scoring THC strains from this year!


Colorado Hybrid Flower: Primus by Green Tree Medicinals - 24.6% - 12th Place.


US Hybrid Flower: Cali Kush Farms Emperor Cookie Dough by Greenwolf LA - 31.1% - Second Place Winner.


Colorado Indica Flower: Chem D.O.G. by Next Harvest - 32.13% - 14th Place.


US Indica Flower: DaVinci OG by Greenwolf LA with Ghost Crow - 25.82% - Third Place Winner.


Colorado Sativa Flower: Ghost Train Haze by Greenman Cannabis - 25.74% - First Place Winner.


US Sativa Flower: Veganic Strawberry Cough by Private Stock for Buds and Roses - 28.31% - Second Place Winner.


Hybrid Concentrate: Sour Strawberry by Dabblicious with Crockett Family Farm and Greenwolf LA - 79.74% - 7th Place.


Indica Concentrate: Lorax OG Cured Resin Nug Run Shatter from Lorax Genetics - 77.77% - 24th Place.


Sativa Concentrate: Platinum Sour Diesel Isolate by Native Roots Extracts - 82.22% - 26th Place.


Non-Solvent Hash: Cookie Glue Rosin Batter by MMJ America Elati - 72.73% - 13th Place.


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It’s not always how high you can get though, is it? Here are the highest CBD contenders at the Denver 2015 Cannabis Cup:


CBD Flowers: The Wife by Green Grass Central City - 16.57%


CBD Concentrates: Hemp CBD Extract by ISODIOL S.A. - 95.17%


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Some pictures from ACD Member Luvtic's Recent 4:20 Trip to Denver


Cannamel Box started full to the top!! Emptied it in 4 hours...


Celebrations at Civic Park downtown Denver


Colorado laws say Colorado companies cannot sell their wares...but they can GIVE them away:


Booth Babes at Cannabis Cup


We ate dinner across the street:

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Inside Bud and Breakfast, the Airbnb of marijuana tourism – only much greener

What’s a pot enthusiast to do when possession is legal but public smoking is not? Enter a startup eyeing the wine country of weed and cannabis-friendly rentals


Bud and Breakfast: the Airbnb of marijuana tourism

Lauren Gambino in Denver, Colorado

Tuesday 5 May 2015

As revelers poured in to Colorado last month to mark the unofficial “4/20” holiday celebrated by cannabis enthusiasts worldwide, some soon learned the limits of the state’s marijuana law. More than 100 citations were handed out, a number of them for smoking in public. Anecdotal accounts told of tokers being booted from hotels by staff wise to the towel under the door.

All this because while marijuana possession and use is legal in Colorado, public consumption is not. This poses a predicament for tourists who come to buy weed but have nowhere to smoke it.

Enter Bud and Breakfast, which is for all intents and purposes an Airbnb for kush tourists.

“A lot of people would come to Colorado, go to a dispensary, buy some herb and then go out on the street and smoke,” said Sean Roby, the founder and chief executive of budandbreakfast.com. “That is not legal. We want to provide safe and legal accommodations for people to have an alternative.”

The site, which launched on 1 April, looks and feels like Airbnb, but with a much greener aesthetic. Travelers search for weed-friendly accommodation by entering their vacation destination and dates. Homeowners in states and countries where recreational and medicinal marijuana use is legal offer them places to stay. The listings also indicate nearby dispensaries and advertise any cannabis-friendly events in the area.

Featured properties include a penthouse in Boulder, Colorado; a lodge in Hope, Alaska; and a suite in Montevideo.


Sean Roby, founder and CEO of budandbreakfast.com. Photograph: Sean Roby

Listings also specify where smoking is allowed – inside, outside or just in the lounge, for example – and what paraphernalia is provided. Some places even provide a “wake and bake” experience, offering guests the bud and breakfast from which the site draws its name.

Roby said budandbreakfast.com was not designed to undercut Airbnb, or even complete with it.

“Airbnb is a huge company. They list every accommodation from a castle to a tent,” he said. “We want to list every accommodation from a castle to a tent as well but it’s going to be cannabis-specific.”

Roby said the homeowners using the site are not only offering their properties, but are also experts and guides to the best dispensaries, spots and strands in town. Each homeowner and renter is vetted before they are allowed to rent properties.

Though Colorado does not have statistics tracking weed tourism, Roby said business was booming. Since the site launched, he said, the phone has been ringing off the hook.

“Pot tourism is completely exploding,” he said. “Since we’ve been live, if we could have had more accommodations, we would have been completely filled out for the 4/20 events that went on in all the recreational states … People were desperate to get a place that was cannabis-friendly.”

Roby calls Colorado the “Napa Valley of cannabis”. He said he would ultimately like to see smokers approach weed in Colorado with the same sophistication drinkers have for wine in California. And he hoped Boulder, with its highly educated yet stoner-friendly population, would be just the place for this idea to take root.

“I don’t really see too many people who are coming into our accommodations who are the traditional stoner, deadhead, hippie mentality,” he said. “We’re looking at professional people that are coming in for a corporate event that want to have a place to go and relax afterwards, and that’s our clientele.”

While federal legalization of marijuana could slow tourism, Roby is more hopeful that the day will come than worried about what it would do for business.

“It’s going to be a gradual process to get to the point of federal legalization, and I think up until that point, our company is going to expand,” he said. “Exponentially, it’s exploding.”


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'Wake And Bake' Gets A Whole New Meaning At Bud+Breakfast, Colorado's Pot-Friendly Hotel Group

By Alison Spiegel The Huffington Post

Posted: 05/12/2015



With so-called "pot tourists" flocking to Colorado to take advantage of the state's recent legalization of recreational marijuana, it was only a matter of time until hotels started stepping up to the plate. Welcome to Bud + Breakfast, Colorado's first hotel group dedicated specifically to weed tourism.

Bud + Breakfast consists of two properties: The Adagio, a Victorian home with six suites, and Silverthorne, a mountain lodge with four suites. Bud + Breakfast describes itself as "the pioneering brand in the canna-lifestyle hospitality sector." As the Vail Daily says, "There’s a new kind of après in town."

The Adagio and Silverthorne both offer "Wake & Bake breakfast sessions" to their guests. "Eggs are cracked and bowls are packed," the websites say. Both locations also host a "4:20 Happy Hour" every day at which guests can enjoy snacks, beer and wine, and, of course, marijuana. Massages using cannabis-infused oil are also available at the guest houses. The Adagio, where rooms are between $179 to $399 per night, opened in April 2014. The Silverthorne, where rooms are between $149 and $199 per night, opened six months later in October.

Despite the somewhat gimmicky "wake and bake" and "4/20" offerings that might remind some of their younger years, Bud + Breakfast guesthouses are meant for a more mature audience. Joel C. Schneider, CEO of The Maryjane Group, Inc., which owns Bud + Breakfast, told The Huffington Post that while "guests range in age from 21-80," he thinks the dominant age group is early 50s to early 60s.

Schneider also emphasized the community aspect of the hotels. "We create a social experience for our guests. We insist that they smoke in the common areas, such as the living rooms, dining room and the outdoor patio," he said. "We want our guests to feel at home and experience cannabis together. This also allows us to monitor our guests to ensure safety and security."

Hotels in Colorado create their own smoking policies. Some have banned the practice altogether, while others reserve a quarter of their rooms for cannabis-friendly zones. There's a grey area when it comes to hotel balconies. With the number of pot tourists flooding the state, it seems likely that more pot-friendly hotels are sure to follow.

Though Bud + Breakfast's guesthouses opened just last year, the company is already expanding. Its plans for the future involve taking summer camp for grownups to a whole new level by opening a Cannacamp in Colorado this summer. The camp will offer all-inclusive packages that promise to "combine the enjoyment of recreational cannabis with a traditional ranch/camp environment."


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How Much Does Colorado vs. Washington Recreational Marijuana Cost These Days?

By Nick Elam


Good news for the cannabis enthusiast: no matter the state, retail marijuana prices are expected to drop in Washington and Colorado throughout the rest of the year. While the black market still poses imminent competition barriers, the wake of 4/20 emphasized the importance of competitive pricing for all recreational stores.

Both Colorado and Washington’s recreational markets have shown significant price drops since the opening of the country’s first legal pot-stores – a simple story of supply and demand. As expected, more retail stores spike competition in the market and force store owners to scale pricing. But what does retail marijuana actually cost in each state?

Well, while one state's market is obviously less expensive than the other, both must begin to lower prices as competition and demand are promised to only increase. Leafly data averaged the following prices on a national scale for the month of April:

Recreational flower prices per gram: $17.10

Concentrates per gram: $55

A single edible: $20-$30

This is a huge change in price compared to a year ago, when competition was minimal in both recreational markets. Analysts expect prices to continue to drop, but each state has its own pricing story.

Review these Colorado and Washington price-points for the month of April to weigh out your next purchase:

Colorado Retail Cannabis Pricing Trends

In Colorado, prices stand accordingly:

Average recreational flower prices per gram: $13.50 - $16 (prices peaked during 4/20)

Average concentrate prices per gram: $45-$55

Average edible price: $20 each

These inexpensive rates come to no surprise, as Colorado holds way more recreational stores for enthusiasts to forge their allegiances.

“The Colorado market is extremely competitive,” Frank Falconer, of the Denver Consulting Group, told the International Business Times. “Price wars happen from time to time.” Falconer has worked with wholesale retailers and other Colorado cannabis companies, and he firmly predicts that prices will continue to go down, at least for some time.

Colorado price wars guarantee one thing for the cannabis consumer: stores will be hungry for loyal customers. So, find different stores nearby to search the best deals and services, and leave reviews of your favorite locations.

Washington Retail Cannabis Pricing Trends

Washington retail prices:

Average recreational flower prices per gram: peaked at $19, dropped to $16 around 4/20

Average concentrate prices per gram: $60

Average edible price: $34 each

The state’s Liquor Control Board (LCB) expects prices to go down in the coming months as more licensed stores begin to open.

Brian Smith, a spokesman for the LCB, gives all of us in Washington hope for cheaper retail prices. “The agency was charged with creating a recreational system competitive with the gray and illicit markets,” said Smith. “We thought if we could get it to 12 dollars a gram, we would be competitive, and we got there in a matter of months.”

While Leafly data shows the Washington market to be a little more expensive than Smith’s goal, we hope for the best as the market slowly but surely starts to deliver more retail locations. Whether you’re teetering on which state to visit or determining the type of product to buy next, retail prices in both markets show promise for all of our wallets when comparing back to 2014.

The question is will these lower prices remain and become standard, or will something else throw market prices into flux? You tell us -- share your thoughts!


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Visiting the Gardens of Fresh Baked

Tue Mar 3, 2015


The strains that cannabis consumers find at the Fresh Baked dispensary of Boulder, CO are exquisite. Of course, someone has to grow this wonderful weed. Check in with Kevin, the lead grower at Fresh Baked, as he explains how Fresh Baked achieves its greatness!


Edited by notsofasteddie

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A Marijuana Smoker's Guide to Colorado

Wed Jul 16, 2014

We always wondered what would happen if the shackles came off the cannabis plant. Now we know! The business of buds is booming in the Rocky Mountain State, and cannabis entrepreneurs are staking out the future. Check out some of the best and brightest among Colorado’s commercial cannabis enterprises.

Making History Daily


The success of legalization has not only changed Colorado -- it’s changed HIGH TIMES as well. No longer are we confined to covering personal gardens; now we get to see industrial-size mega-grows, like the cultivation facilities of Patients Choice of Colorado -- an expansive, blooming testament to the new era of cannabis freedom that all of America will soon enjoy. Brooke Gehring is the managing partner of Patients Choice and oversees its four locations in the Denver area, three of which service both recreational and medical buyers.

A huge cultivation center is essential, Brooke says, because “our locations have seen 30,000 people walk through the doors -- 300 to 500 each day. In sales tax alone, we’ve raised $270,000 for the state in just the first two months of the year. We’re making history every day!” But the Patients Choice centers are very much neighborhood shops, places where buyers experience the same sense of community that other local boutiques offer. Plus the high quality of the products here reflects the stringent standards that Patients Choice maintains in its gardens, where 20-plus staffers are onsite 24/7 to keep the flow of outstanding cannabis sure and steady. Check out the extra- user-friendly Patients Choice website for strains and prices at all locations.

Denver: 2251 South Broadway; 4000 Morrison Road; Edgewater: 2517 Sheridan; patientschoiceofcolorado.com

An Empire in Pueblo

Michael Stetler, the director and master grower of Marisol Therapeutics in Pueblo, is a native Coloradoan with four generations of medical patients in his family. Marisol started big over five years ago with a gymnasium-sized greenhouse providing for the needs of Pueblo’s medical marijuana population. Now, with the arrival of full-blown legalization, Marisol has become one of the county’s biggest generators of tax revenue. Last year, it grew the largest legal outdoor marijuana garden in the United States, and Stetler currently oversees a huge indoor operation that encompasses more than an acre of warehouse space. Construction is also underway on four new greenhouses, and Michael hopes to harvest 10 acres of outdoor pot this fall.

The sheer breadth of Marisol’s operations has earned it the attention of the international press -- and the admiration of HIGH TIMES for its epic photo ops. Marisol’s dispensary is a spacious, high-ceilinged store in Pueblo West, right off Highway 50. A massive painting of a white buffalo greets customers upon entering: It’s part of the Marisol logo and reflects the company’s belief in new beginnings. There are scores of Marisol strains available here, all stocked in the spacious walk-in humidor, as well as counters for medical patients and recreational users.

922 E. Kimble Drive; marisolmed.com

Highly Agreeable


Step into any LivWell location and you’ll experience a uniformity of store design featuring blonde wood cannabis showcases, well-conceived lighting and a sense of calm that infuses the cannabis buying experience. LivWell offers locations throughout the Denver metropolitan area and in Colorado Springs. Presently, only the S. Broadway and Larimer St. stores are open to recreational buyers. Stopping by on a Friday evening, business was brisk, but the airy waiting rooms enabled buyers to relax and ponder their pending purchase in a warm, friendly atmosphere. Everything required is available at LivWell for your cannabis needs: premium flowers, edibles, concentrates and all the necessary accessories.

432 S. Broadway, Denver; 2863 Larimer St.; livwellco.com.

The Weedery

Chris Hageseth, the chief operations officer of Green Man Cannabis, currently runs two medical dispensaries in Denver, both of which will offer recreational sales by summer- time. A third recreational and medical shop is set to open soon in Frisco, a ski-country town. With master grower Corey at his side, Chris is determined to take the cannabis scene by storm: Green Man strains have won multiple awards, including the 2012 Denver Medical Cannabis Cup for Best Hybrid, and this year’s prize for top U.S. Sativa. But Green Man’s biggest dreams rest in what Chris calls “the Weedery” (based on the concept of a winery). Ground is being broken this summer on a $25 million facility that will encompass cultivation, education and entertainment. “As we all know, cannabis and music go together,” Chris explains. “But I want to demystify marijuana.” To that end, the Weedery will house a grow facility open to the public for tours, a museum-like educational space featuring artifacts from America’s cannabis industry, and a 5,000-seat amphitheater for outdoor concerts.


Bowled Over in Boulder


Fresh Baked occupies a nondescript house along one of picturesque Boulder’s thoroughfares. Inside, however, it’s airy and sunlit—a haven of serenity. When you enter the purchasing area, you’ll find three separate counters staffed by friendly and knowledgeable budtenders, all of them exuding that uniquely Colorado vibe earned though fit, healthy lifestyles. Located on the edge of the University of Colorado campus, Fresh Baked has seen brisk business, especially on weekends and during Spring Break festivities. Its menu is extensive, boast- ing edibles, topicals and concentrates in addition to outstanding Colorado-grown strains. Fresh Baked took second place in the hybrids category with Jack Flash at the 2012 High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Denver.

2539 Pearl Street; freshbakedboulder.blogspot.com

Buds of Breckenridge

Gold miners were the earliest settlers of Breckenridge, and the first ski resort didn’t open here until 1961. But now this mountain town is the ski hub for the eastern slopes of Colorado’s Ten Mile Range, which draws millions of tourists in both winter and summer. The Breckenridge Cannabis Club, owned and operated by locals Caitlin McGuire and Brian Rogers, is situated in a quaint and rustic two-story house right on Main Street. The club opened its doors as a medical dispensary in 2010, and now it welcomes recreational buyers as well, with 100 different cannabis products available and some of the lowest prices in the state.

226 Main Street; medicalmarijuanabreckenridge.com

Livin' Large in Leadville


In its heyday during the Colorado Silver Boom of the 1800s, Leadville was the site of miner camps that housed some 40,000 people. Now it’s a tourist spot steeped in Old West history in the heart of the Rockies, with a population of around 3,000. Just off Harrison Avenue, Leadville’s main drag, you can find Nature’s Spirit, a family-owned business housed in a cozy white bungalow. Nature’s Spirit offers top Colorado strains lovingly grown by the owners, who pride themselves on their 100 percent organic soilless medium and nutrients, reverse-osmosis water filtration and CO2 injections. Delicious edibles and powerful concentrates are also available at this friendly neighborhood pot shop.

113 East Seventh Street; naturesspirit420.com

Extraction Attraction


John, Josh, Matt and Mike beheld the world of cannabis extractions and saw a golden opportunity. The result is two companies that offer specialized services to the state’s ganja-preneurs. The first, Extract Outfitters, allows its cannabusiness clients to maintain complete control over all aspects of the extraction process in their facilities. Instead of building costly labs, these businesses can rely on portable and cost-effective setups in a variety of configurations that offer savings and efficiency and are compliant with Colorado’s guidelines -- and Extract Outfitters handles all of the plans, permits and installation.

The foursome’s second company, TC Labs, operates a massive grow tailored to concentrate production. Its services include not only selling concentrates wholesale, but providing processing operations to businesses that wish to forgo the exacting undertaking of making concentrates themselves.

extractoutfitters.com; tclabsco.com

Location, Location, Location …


There’s a good reason for MMJ America’s name: With legalization poised to sweep the nation, this ambitious canna-company is actively investigating franchises in other states. But on a more local note, you gotta love MMJ’s LoDo (lower downtown) location, which even boasts its own parking lot. Of course, there’s a whole lot to love about MMJ America besides hassle-free parking. Customers can purchase a wide range of recreational and medical strains here. (The other MMJ America locations in Denver and Boulder are medical-only.) Even better, its pot products are superb, and the personable MMJ America workers behind the counter will guide you to your ideal strain. You can also check out its voluminous “Strain Library” online.

2042 Arapahoe Street; mmjamerica.com

Just Around the Corner

Have we stepped through some kind of time warp or what? Good Chemistry is located in downtown Denver—just around the corner from the Colorado statehouse! Five years ago, this would have been unthinkable. But as Good Chemistry general manager Steve Spinosa says, “It’s been crickets—no one’s complaining. Our neighbors have spoken out on our behalf, and we’ve actually been able to help cops with crimes because of our camera surveillance.”

But really … next to the Capitol? How times have changed—for the better! Good Chemistry offers both medical and recreational strains with only a $5 difference in price. The shop’s also got a nice neighborhood feel to it, with multiple budtenders taking care of customers with friendliness and efficiency.

330 East Colfax, Denver; goodchem.org

Clinically Speaking

The Clinic has been at the forefront of Colorado’s cannabis scene since medical marijuana first took root here. Its reputation is impeccable, and its pot is even better! With six locations to oversee, general manager Ryan Cook has had his hands full keeping good medicine on the shelves for patients, while also navigating the transition from medical-only to recreational sales. On January 1, the Clinic Colorado on Mexico Avenue was the first to make the changeover -- the only location in the Clinic network currently selling recreational pot. But with no other advertising than a Facebook post, 1,000 buyers still lined up to buy cannabis. No big surprise there, however, since the Clinic has won four HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup awards, including the 2014 Denver Cannabis Cup for US concentrates.

Denver: 3888 East Mexico Avenue; thecliniccolorado.com

The Wait Is Over


Forrest Charlesworth owns and operates New Age Medical, which has one location in Edgewater and two more in Colorado Springs. (Unfortunately, there’s a moratorium currently in place on recreational pot sales in Colorado Springs.) Back when he was waiting for his Edgewater location to go recreational, Forrest expressed some frustration. “I’m about as patient as I can be,” he said, “what with all the regulations that are constantly Forrest changing.”

As the New Year rang in, Forrest watched nearby recreational shops clean up -- but as of April 1, he had fulfilled the requirements of the state’s pot bureaucracy and was able to welcome all adults, ages 21 and over, to sample the buds of New Age Medical. “It’s not like I wasn’t ready,” he says now. “I’ve got a 5,000-square-foot grow in Colorado Springs, and I’m about to start a 3,000-square-foot grow up here. I’m ready to go.” And to prove it, he’s offering great strains at great prices!

2553 Sheridan Boulevard, Edgewater

Slowly but Surely ...


In Buena Vista, at an elevation of 8,000 feet, master growers Josh Shipman and Je Cain oversee the three greenhouses devoted to the 40-plus strains of Fremont County Cannabis. Approximately 3,000 feet below, in Canon City, the FCC center provides medicine for some 300 patients every week.

Fremont County Cannabis is awaiting Canon City’s decision to open the door to recreational sales as well, but the process has been slow. The local pols want to see how legalization progresses; because the city’s economy depends on family-fun vacations, they want to make sure marijuana fits in. But with Colorado reaping a whopping windfall in tax revenues, Fremont County Cannabis is confident that it will get the okay to open its new retail center in July -- right across the street from the stone walls of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility! And once recreational sales are the norm, FCC plans to develop its nearby mountain property into a campground tailored to cannabis-themed vacations.


Help is On The Way

Colorado's new recreational laws allow adults to grow up to 12 plants on their property. Sounds good, but what if you don’t know how? Pinnacle Consultation to the rescue! Pinnacle is the brainchild of Kristopher Fowlkes, who spent a few years in the Army before jumping into Colorado’s cannabis scene when he saw the chance for an ancillary business. If you’re lost in the growroom, Kris can help you find your way: Pinnacle will design and install one in whatever space you have, then solve your gardening problems as well with a per-harvest service contract ($250 per every 1,000 watts of grow op). “Our goal is to make growing simpler and easier,” Kris says. “Most people develop a green thumb pretty quick.” Pinnacle also operates its own gardens, serving as a medical caregiver.


The Rise of Dixie


In a short span of time, Dixie Elixirs has distinguished itself as a premier producer of THC-infused edibles, topicals and tinctures. The company started off as the maker of cannabis soda pop, but now it boasts close to 40 products. Dixie Elixirs is currently finishing up its new digs, a 27,000-square-foot industrial space that will house a kitchen, lab, production facilities and the company’s head- quarters (complete with an onsite gym). By the end of the year, it expects to employ a staff of 80. Chief marketing officer Joe Hodas says, “We want Dixie Elixirs to be a showcase for the industry. We want everyone to see how success can be achieved when you bring good business practices to your operation.”


Goin’ Green


The Green Solution is an example of what you get when you combine cultivation expertise, customer service and quality control: success! With three of its four locations dedicated to medical and recreational sales, the Green Solution’s wide-ranging selection of strains has been a huge hit. The Green Solution has over 110 strains in its inventory, as well as tinctures, topicals, pre-rolls, and beverages. And they kicked ass at this year’s U.S. Cup!

Denver: 601 West Alameda Avenue; Denver East: 4400 Grape Street; North- glenn: 470 Malley Drive; tgscolorado.com


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New Denver hotel allows marijuana use

by Jon Bowman

Posted May 27, 2015

DENVER — In LoDo, the Nativ Hotel is set to open. Thursday through Saturday there will be a series of functions to welcome the boutique hotel that allows marijuana use.

“We have something for everyone here at Nativ,” said owner Mike Alexander. “We have door bells on rooms, living plant walls on our outdoor patios where guests can consume marijuana on their stays, the Stereo Lounge in the basement, and original art work throughout the hotel. We even have a coffee bar specializing in CBD infused lattes.”

The rooms have all glass showers, the champagne suites have self-cleaning hot tubs and there is a lunch/happy hours lounge called Pourtions. The cannabis friendly hotel is the first of its kind in Denver. Some of the rooms even have the Monsieur Bartenders … meaning no more mini-bars. This pour system allows for customers to make up to 800 combinations without ever leaving their room.

Co-owner Richmond Meyer said, “We chose the name Nativ because we want everyone—no matter where they are from—to feel as if they are a native Coloradan while they are here. Our goal is to allow everyone to have an awesome time for however long they stay with us.”

The Nativ is staging three days of understanding between Thursday and Saturday. Grand Opening is Thursday night. Expect a big crowd as the new cannabis hotel is going to be the spot to be.


Marijuana infused coffee tea & espresso at Nativ Hotel Denver


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Medicine Man marijuana dispensary in Denver | Weed Revolution

Published on May 18, 2015

Andy Williams is the president and CEO of Medicine Man which is the largest single marijuana dispensary in Denver.

Williams gives a tour of the 40,000-square foot warehouse and cultivation space, as well as into the growing pot industry.

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Bud and Breakfast: The Booking Engine for Marijuana Tourists

Patrick Clarke | April 02, 2015

Destination & Tourism |


Bud and Breakfast: The Booking Engine for Marijuana Tourists

Bud and Breakfast has emerged as a pioneer of the marijuana tourism industry, launching the first booking engine on the web designed to help travelers find cannabis-friendly accommodations.

Search results will return available accommodations in places that have legalized marijuana for medical and or recreational use, including U.S. states like Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington as well as foreign countries like Jamaica, The Netherlands and Uruguay.

Since consuming cannabis in public remains illegal, Bud and Breakfast features apartments, cottages and houses were travelers can stay and use marijuana in private.

"We want to provide an accessible network of accommodations that meet high standards of quality, reliability and satisfaction for travelers who also wish to enjoy the benefits of this wonderfully healing plant," said Bud and Breakfast founder and CEO Sean Roby in a statement. "This goes beyond people looking to smoke pot. There are families with sick children looking for alternative treatments and adults who live with handicaps being treated with cannabis."

"Bud and Breakfast makes it possible to find a comfortable setting – like a private home – to begin healing," added Roby. "It's great to know we can help them."

The website allows owners to list their property along with a description and nightly pricing. Owners can even break down what parts of their property are fine for cannabis use and which ones are off limits.

What's more, owners can specify whether their property is vaporizer-only and whether marijuana will be provided at the location.

Meanwhile, website users can view photos of the property and access a booking calendar to see which dates are available. Like other popular booking engines, travelers can also narrow down their search results by filtering amenities.


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Day 0: June 10, 2015

Eddie and his Amsterdam travel buddy, Egor, heading to Colorado. All systems are go! Will be in Denver at 6:00 and Boulder by 7:30 or so. Let the party begin!

What could go wrong?

Taking advantage of our knowledge of the different dispensary closing times in each city, we know that our first purchases are unlikely to be in Denver or Boulder as closing time is 6:45. We have contingencies: Louisville dispensary closing time 8:00; Aurora closing time 10:00; and Edgewater closing time 12:00. Having identified highly rated dispensaries in all three cities with their GPS data.

We are ready; what can go wrong?

Then this happened


Lighting delay in Tampa; five (5) hours late we take-off. Arrival time Denver International Airport (DIA) 11:00 pm; DIA Exit time 11:35 pm. So much for contingencies.

We are in the land of plenty, but totally without!!!!!!!!!!!! Onward to the hotel for a beer!

Hopefully Day 1 will be better

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Day 1: June 11, 2015

We are in Boulder. It's a brand new day so it's on to Freshly Baked


What could go wrong?

This time NOTHING!

Of all the dispensaries we visited, this was the friendliest!






So we are truly in the land of plenty!!

Purchases made (O.pen vapes and cartridges - sativa & hybrid) were off to continue our exploration of Boulder and the surrounding areas.

Next stop, The Farm, for edibles.

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Day 1: June 11, 2015 cont.

At The Farm

A different vibe here, very business-like. Upon entering the main room, you get a chip with a number, when your name and number is called you go into the other room where the product is located. Photos permitted in the outer room, but not in the room with product.


Outer Room Menu (not official)




Inspirational Art


Armed and Ready we head for the Great Outdoors.

Time for some sight-seeing in and around Boulder!

Pictures to follow

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Day 1: June 11, 2015 cont.

Heading into downtown Boulder and the Pearl Street Mall


City Hall


Boulder Theatre featuring music that is new to me -


Water Whack a Mole

After all that walking and viewing, it's time for lunch


Bohemian Biergarten, featuring Stiegl Lager and Pilsner Urquell Bier Brats

Back to the outdoors, we are heading for Boulder Mountain Park and the Flatirons



Bad weather coming in so it's time to head for shelter at the Sanitas Brewery



A Sanitas Saison or three for me and several Sanitas Black IPAs for Egor along with some great tacos

It's getting late so back to the hotel, a couple of Julie's Indica Nutty Bites, and it's time for bed.

The Rockies and Denver beckon as Day 2 approaches

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