This is a guest post by Stephanie Vessely, who lives in Denver, Colorado and is somewhere in the middle of a lifelong love affair with words.
So you’re headed to Colorado and are hoping to enjoy its legal status? Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your stay.
Visitors Can Purchase Marijuana With Restrictions
If you are at least 21 years old with a valid, government-issued ID (a driver’s license or passport), you can purchase marijuana in Colorado. Non-residents can buy up to 7 grams (.25 ounces) of marijuana at a time. Though this is less than what residents can buy (28 grams or 1 ounce), everyone is allowed to have in their possession up to an ounce. (So if you are a non-resident and need more than the .25 ounce limit, you could feasibly visit a few different stores in a day).
Keep in mind that depending on what you purchase, a 7 grams (.25 ounces) can be quite a bit of goodies. Edible items in particular contain much smaller dosages, so you could leave with plenty of treats for your stay. For example, 10 pieces of hard candy is less than .1 grams (.004 oz.) But, because edibles are now highly regulated, they are also notoriously less potent, so you’ll probably need more than you think.
Weed Shops Are Everywhere But The Best Deals Are On Low Ground
There are over 150 stores throughout Denver, plus stores in nearby Aurora and Edgewater as well. Take a drive or a walk down South Broadway, for instance, and you’ll find several shops per block. Keep in mind shops are pretty competitively priced until you get into the ski resort areas. Prices there are much more expensive since they’re full of tourists and first-time smokers.
- Most stores in Denver are usually open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., while stores in Aurora close at 10 p.m.; in Edgewater they generally stay open until midnight.
You’ll find everything from high-end retailers to smaller, less glitzy shops, so you might want to do some research before you get there. Deciding what kind of shopping experience you want to have beforehand will also help you pick which stores to visit. Check out Weedmaps, Leafly and The Cannabist to help you navigate your options. When you get to town, pick up a copy of Westword too. It’s a weekly local newspaper found in most restaurants and bars. It’s free and full of ads for local shops.
Prices range from about $65 to $135 for a .25 oz (7 grams), and most places prefer cash. There is usually an ATM on site. (An acquaintance with insider knowledge informed me that if you use a debit card the retailer will treat your purchase like an ATM transaction, meaning they allow you to purchase in $20 increments. So it might be easier to plan on using cash.)
Buying Is A Classy Affair
Each store offers a different experience, and caters to individual preferences. With some stores you can place your order online or via an iPad when you arrive. Then, you wait for your number to be called at a pharmacy-style window and pick up your product. There is very little human interaction and it’s quick.
At other stores there is much more human interaction and knowledgeable sales associates. You’ll walk in, hand someone your ID, and then wait to enter the main room. There’s a cap on how many people are allowed in the main room (usually about 10). Once inside, someone is there to help you decide what kind of weed you want. You can smell and inspect different strains, and be guided toward the kind of high you seek.
Find A 420 Hotel
The good news is that you’ve made your purchase. The bad news is that public consumption is still against the law. This means you can’t walk out of the shop and light up. You also can’t go back to your hotel to smoke, or smoke in parks, restaurants, ski resorts or any other typical tourist hangout. A small number of hotels advertise as being “420-friendly,” so doing your research could pay off. Another option is vacation rentals like Airbnb or VRBO. Smoking is allowed in private residences, so some hosts and hostesses might be willing to let you light up (or at the very least use their garage or patio). That being said, it’s not uncommon to walk down the street and get a whiff of weed, so I don’t know how often the public consumption law is actually enforced.
If you can’t find a place to enjoy your goods, keep edibles in mind. They are a less conspicuous way of getting high. Some examples are baked goods, tinctures, hard candies and sodas. Additionally, a vaporizer pen is another alternative. These are commonly used on the slopes, but don’t forget about the public consumption law.
For those without a place to go to smoke, there are private cannabis clubs in the state. Some offer a day membership that allows you smoke openly on the premises. Again, you’ll want to check with specific clubs before you go. Every venue has its own restrictions.
In addition to the clubs, visitors in Denver can enjoy activities such as cooking classes, grow classes, painting classes, bus tours, and various events and conferences. You can find all of the current offerings here.
Don’t Consume And Drive
Driving while high can still land you a DUI, so it’s best not to get stoned and then get behind the wheel of your rental car. Police will run a standard DUI test, and will look for the same things they look for with alcohol – bloodshot eyes, slowed reaction time or other impaired behavior. If the driver fails or refuses the test, he or she may be arrested and given a blood test. Better safe than sorry – take a cab, ride the bus or hop on the light rail.
Remember, Marijuana Is Legal On Colorado’s Ground Only
Don’t want the party to end? Thinking of taking some weed home with you? Don’t. Marijuana is still not legal as a recreational drug in most places, and it is a prohibited item for air travel. Denver International Airport has banned possession of marijuana on its premises (getting caught gets you a fine) and taking it across state lines could lead to further legal trouble. Drug-sniffing dogs at the airport? Yikes!
Because the rules are constantly changing, it’s not a bad idea to do your own research before coming to Colorado. Check online, or call the stores if you have questions about anything. I found most everyone was friendly and willing to answer questions. And most importantly, exercise caution and common sense. We all want this to work and expand, so we all have to play by the rules.
Thank you Stephanie enlightening travelers to Colorado who might want to light up. Stephanie is an aspiring vegan who loves travel, hates small talk and hopes to help save the animals. Someday, she’ll learn how to tap dance. In the meantime, she keeps “scribbled secret notebooks” and knows everything is as it should be, even if she has a hard time remembering it. You can find her writing on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website. All photos in this post are courtesy Stephanie Vessely.