Recently I traveled to Denver, CO. As you may recall, Colorado legalized pot a few years ago – both possession and selling. This fact did not elude me, but I didn’t know how to broach it with the friends I would be staying with. Weed is a contentious subject: Some people are all about it, and others think partakers bear the Mark of the Beast.
Like it or not, pot is a ubiquitous commodity: While it may be illegal in most places, that hasn’t stopped its commerce. I remember learning that my middle school art teacher dealt (still does?) to the rest of the faculty and the nearby high school. I no longer blink when someone pulls out a Ziploc filled with green buds (or is it just bud? I’m really not savvy on drug lingo). However, it still is technically illegal, so this can limit discussions between unassuming millennials. You never know how someone might react.
Them: “You do weed?”
Me: “Well, not necessarily.”
Therefore, I didn’t bring up Colorado’s laws until my host and I were buzzed off the cheapest bottle of wine available in the 27th floor restaurant of the Denver Hyatt (something like $25; it will turn out that weed is cheaper).
Me: “So is it legal here?”
Friend: “Yeah! Do you smoke? Do you want to?”
An hour later, plans to go clubbing are scrapped, and we are in my friend’s kitchen, which had seemed so innocently domestic when we dropped off my bags. She now produces a bong, a vapor pen, brownies, and – wait, it’s not a Ziploc bag: It’s a pop-top orange container with “flour” (that is a drug term I had never heard until I came to Colorado; you can tell I’m in the weed know - not). Obviously this flour had not come from an under-the-high-school-football-bleachers transaction.
We then watched “Sharknado.” That is all.
Of course, doing weed isn’t that much of a novelty: Buying weed legally is what I really wanted to experience. In Colorado, marijuana shops are called dispensaries, which is a word that reminds me of Mike-and-Ike dispensers in shopping malls. Anyhow, I was with a new friend the next day, and I asked if there were dispensaries nearby.
Friend: “Do you want to go?”
Me: “Maybe, if it’s interesting. It could be something to do if we get bored later…..”
Read: “YES, no ifs, ands, or buts. I do anything for a story. Even buy weed.”
Friend: “You have to experience Colorado culture!”
He then informed me that legal weed is more expensive than street sales, but also more potent. They also don’t just sell straight bud/flour/dried flowers. Most stores also offer edibles, which I assumed meant brownies. Well, grab a chair, folks: Brownies are one of multiple options. Also available infused with marijuana are “rookie cookies,” lollipops, gummy bears, drinks (who wants to drink their weed?!), and topicals (is this the doctor’s office?).
Since my friend doesn’t ordinarily indulge in Mary Jane, we had to buy equipment, e.g. a pipe, more popularly known as a bowl in drug circles. Consequently, we ended up at a glass shop (they didn’t sell china). Now I know from Virginia – the land of illegal weed – that you can’t reference a pipe as a bowl in a glass shop without them asking you to leave. I wondered if that was the case in Colorado.
It totally wasn’t.
As we walked into the glass shop, the clerk emerged from a backroom. We exchanged pleasantries to which he replied, “I’m high; it’s been a slow day.”
Me: Are you sure the weed isn’t making it go slower?
Next stop was the dispensary. My friend forewarned that all weed must be paid for in cash. The explanation offered had something to do with federal laws versus state laws, but it’s not like I exactly wanted “Marijuana” on my credit card statement (is this covered by per diem?). However, due to the high cash volume (get it?), most dispensaries have a security guard. Such a person greeted my friend and I while checking our IDs (you have to be 21).
Security guard: “Just so you know, there’s a wait.”
Friend: “How long of a wait?”
Security guard: “Maybe 25 minutes.”
I was about to ask, “What do you mean, a wait?” until the guard handed us a number and opened the door. The front room consisted of multiple couches, which people sat on if they weren’t hovering on their feet. Every few minutes a bouncer (at least he seemed bouncer-esque) announced a number and patrons were ushered into a backroom. Meanwhile, menus were laid out on tables to look over before you went back. (Yes, there were coffee tables. Without coffee.)
The menu presented several options, including “bargains,” “house” (is that like house vodka?), and “top” (top shelf?). The bargain list contained something called “Hash Haze” while the house list had something called “Trainwreck.” Then there was the strain key: Sativa, indica, and then hybrids of the two. And of course, specials:
420 Club: Spend $420 and earn a $42 credit! Join today and start earning!
Quarter bundles: Mix and match your favorite strains - $45 bargain / $55 house / $65 top.
What the heck is sativa? And indica?
So there I stood in a dispensary Googling strains of weed and texting my friend who had recently visited Amsterdam. Apparently sativa produces a head high – think strange thoughts – while indica is the body high – think munchies.
And then there was the edible list: “Chill pills”, mints, granola bars, sour gummies, and Star Barz. Each item had its THC concentration beside it ranging from 5 mg to 100 mg.
Me: Is weed like caffeine? How much is a serving? Do I want a Trenta?
My friend was no help in the knowledge department, so we waited to be called back. The backroom consisted of glass showcases with prepackaged goodies – brownies, cookies, candies – and behind the counters were shelves of, you got it, weed. Except they were all in pill containers labeled “Glass Slipper” or “Ambulance.”
Our cashier listened as my friend explained he didn’t want a paranoid trip before smiling: “I have just the thing.”
He handed us a container and had us smell it. And then another. And another. This was Mr. Olliver and we were choosing our wand. Once we chose what we wanted – unicorn hair with dragon tooth – he asked how much we wanted: A sixteenth, an eighth, a quarter, all the way up to an ounce.
Me: “Like, just enough for one hit.”
No, I did not say that.
We decided on a sixteenth (I think; I wasn’t taking great notes while sniffing weed containers), but it looked like more weed than I have ever seen in a Ziploc baggie. It cost $16. I also threw in $20 for nine 10 mg each cookies. (What a deal!)
Cash was handed over. I’m not sure if a receipt was provided. It’s not like you can get reimbursed for marijuana voyeurism. And we left.
Security guard: “Take care, you two.”
I considered cutting this story short here, but I feel that would be an injustice to the reader. And, anyway, it’s not like Maureen Dowd didn’t get high and write about it for The New York Times. Maybe I’ll get a Pulitzer for my honesty?
My friend and I lit up on his back porch. For being legal, he kept ducking whenever a car drove by on the interstate, which was 300 yards away.
Me: “But it’s legal, right?”
Friend: “I’m not afraid of the cops; I’m worried about the Homeowner’s Association.”
Me: “Well, let’s have a cookie then.”
While the cookie smelled like mustard gas aka skunk, it tasted like my grandmother baked it and was only 35 calories. I couldn’t help but comment on how it couldn’t be more than one Weight Watcher point. Also, it was a chewy cookie, which is my favorite type, so I had one and a half. Warning: I went the way of Maureen Dowd in her article.
My friend and I then lay on his in-ground trampoline and stared at the oh-so-blue sky.
Everything began to feel like swimming through a congealed ocean – but in a good way. We ordered pizza. I got a calzone. I thought I ordered a veggie calzone – I told the operator I wanted spinach, broccoli, olives, and banana peppers – but what came was a ham, olive, and banana pepper calzone. I did not realize the mistake until I was halfway finished. It was not an appetizing combination.
We ate our dinner while watching “Sharknado 2.” And the ocean consumed us. As in I returned to the trampoline and stared at the sunset. I couldn’t decide if it was just Colorado preening for me or the hash haze. And then my friend told me we could see the stars out here. I could not express my excitement (like, literally, I could not form the words), but then I never even got to see the stars because I fell asleep in a twilight bliss (which, what does that even mean?).