How to Plan a Responsible Colorado 'Weedcation' and Not Get Busted
Yes, tourists can take advantage of Colorado's new marijuana-friendly laws, but there are still rules to be followed.
Visitors to Colorado are now welcomed at dozens of marijuana dispensaries, where they can buy up to a quarter ounce (7 grams) of pot for their own consumption. The new boom in weed tourism has meant long lines at Denver’s dispensaries, and a nascent but growing industry of packaged “green tours,” that are heavy on smoke-filled “magic bus” trips to local growers.
But what if you want to plan an upscale and, yes, responsible “weedcation” of your very own, taking full advantage of Colorado’s amazing outdoors and a serious foodie scene? Quartz asked police and people in the hospitality and cannabis business in Colorado their advice. Here’s what they had to say:
Know what’s allowed. “It’s not carte blanche,” says Tom Martin, the police chief of Crested Butte, a tiny, extreme-sports-loving town in Colorado’s ski country. The most important thing to remember: Public consumption is banned. That includes not just walking down the street but in national parks and forests, on the chair lifts and the ski slopes. Parks and most ski areas are federal land, where marijuana use is still illegal. If you’re transporting it, it should be in a closed container.
There’s some discussion about whether private property in public view, like “a nice evening when you’re sitting on the front porch,” should constitute public consumption, Martin says. For now, he suggests, stick to the back porch where passers-by can’t see you. (For more details about what not to do, the Denver Post’s Cannabist website has a very thorough 64 question FAQ.)
Rent a private house. Besides the fact that public pot consumption is banned, smoking of anything at all is verboten at bars, restaurants and many Colorado hotels. Even those hotels that allow cigarette smoking in some bedrooms (which, let’s face it, probably smell like stale tobacco) sometimes don’t allow marijuana, even on the balconies. Here’s a handful of hotels that openly welcome cannabis users.
Luckily the state is full of gorgeous vacation homes. Though most ban smoking indoors, look for somewhere with private outdoor space, like this riverside cottage with an outdoor hot tub in Crested Butte, or this five-bedroom “luxury log cabin” in Vail. There are also a few rental homes that permit indoor smoking, like this exposed brick loft in downtown Denver.
Go to a stylish event. A growing number of chefs and event planners are creating special cannabis evenings, centered around marijuana-friendly food or focused on entertainment like burlesque-themed cabaret.
Jane West, a Denver event planner, is hosting monthly “BYOC” dinner parties in Denver art galleries. They’re designed to appeal to cannabis users, but are open to all (they also serve craft beers and Colorado “small batch” spirits.) The menus will be heavy on “succulent moist foods that will evolve” as you eat them, West told Quartz, like meatballs stuffed with blue cheese.
There will be a four-course, 100-person “farm-to-table” dinner in April and an “Oktoberfest” in September. At a recent event, there was even a special code for discounts on Uber rides home. West said previously “there was not a scene for people like me,” someone in her 30s who likes to drink good wine, eat great food, and use cannabis.
If you want to host a private event of your own, West can also arrange for a “cannabis chef” to come to your rental home, even outside of Denver, and make you food with and without marijuana.
Take it easy with the edibles. Colorado is full of mom-and-pop outfits that churn out cookies, cakes, granolas and candies, most with organic ingredients and all clearly labeled with the amount of THC—the active ingredient in marijuana—that they contain.
Twirling Hippy Confections, for instance, makes individual peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecakes with 65 mg of THC in each one. Julie & Kate Baked Goods makes gluten-free products using various strains of marijuana, such as almond, sunflower and maple syrup treats with 25 mg of THC each. Edibles like these are in such demand that Colorado stores have been rationing them to keep them in stock.
To pick out the right product, ask yourself some questions first, Julie of Julie & Kate tells Quartz, like “What type of day or night are you in the mood for? Are you suffering from anxiety this day? Are you in pain? Would you like to be as euphoric as possible just for the fun of it?” A product made with the sativa strain will “be more active and conducive for a day on the mountain,” she said, while one made with indica “will be restful and calming.” Eat a small amount, wait 60 minutes, and then take more if necessary, she said. Julie & Kate’s website has a brief THC dosage guide.
Skip the cabernet. Many purists believe you shouldn’t combine alcohol and cannabis. If you do, take care when choosing the alcohol—nothing that dries out the mouth, like a red wine with heavy tannins. West recommends “palate cleansing” beverages, such as sake or a drink with ginger in it. “Anything that has a refreshing element at the end,” she said.
No, do not pack the cheesecake for home. They don’t look or smell like marijuana, so why not just slip some of Colorado’s edibles into your checked luggage before your flight? Just remember, it’s illegal to possess marijuana once you’re on federally-administered property, which includes the security line at the airport, and you’ll probably get caught, like this guy.
And of course, have fun. Martin said he’s not that worried about tourists getting themselves into trouble now that recreational cannabis has been legalized. “Seldom in my career of 29 years have we responded to calls where marijuana was a factor,” he said.