Legalized pot in Colorado has brought a flood of cannabis tourism to the state. Here’s our guide of where to stay and what to do while you’re there.
Colorado – land of soaring mountains, crystalline lakes, rushing rivers, and legal recreational marijuana. When voters approved the sale of recreational weed back in 2012 (medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2010), vacationers began flocking into the state in order to experience a real “Rocky Mountain High.”
Even for seasoned tokers, navigating the realities of this newfound freedom can be confusing. How much can you buy? Where are you allowed to smoke? With marijuana tourism in the state reaching a fever pitch, what’s the best way to make the most of your time there? No worries; We are here to help you sort it all out. Sit back, relax and let us help you plan the ultimate ganja getaway.
First, Let’s Cover the Legal Stuff
I know – it’s no fun. But since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado walks a tricky tightrope, it’s worth at least discussing, no?
Like alcohol in the U.S., marijuana purchase and possession is limited to people who are 21 years of age and over. Private citizens are allowed to grow up to six plants as long as they keep them locked up. You’re allowed to legally possess up to an ounce of weed while traveling around the state and can give that amount to a friend (as long as they’re also over 21).
Let’s move on to recreational dispensaries, because you’re not traveling there to bring your own weed; you’re hoping to sample the universe of strains displayed in beautifully-lit dispensary cases all over the state. Getting down to business, there are at least 600 marijuana dispensaries in Colorado. You can only purchase recreational weed from a recreational dispensary, as medical dispensaries are only licensed to sell to card-carrying patients.
Bring your photo ID. This is incredibly important, so let me repeat it and put it in bold-face: Bring your photo ID. Dispensary operators can’t even let you inside to look at their wares unless you show them a valid photo ID. People who live out-of-state are allowed to purchase a quarter-ounce per transaction, while Colorado residents are allowed to purchase a full ounce. Expect to pay around $50 for one eight of an ounce, plus a 25% tax on the purchase.
Now to the illegalities. Marijuana still remains illegal in most U.S. states. It’s against the law to cross state lines with marijuana purchased from a dispensary in Colorado. Consumption of weed within the state is governed much like the consumption of alcohol. Driving while under the influence of cannabis is illegal, as is consuming it in public. A small number of lounges have opened with the aim of allowing people to enjoy their bud socially, but the legal status of these establishments remains uncertain.
Finding a Place to Stay
For those who prefer to enjoy their high in private, finding a weed-friendly place to stay can take a bit of research. There’s still a huge stigma around marijuana – even in states where medical and recreational use have been legal for years. Most major hotel chains have enacted general smoking bans and prohibit smoking of any kind in their rooms. Some hotels that offer rooms for smokers have a “discreet use” policy that allows occupants to consume cannabis as long as it doesn’t impact or generate complaints from other guests. Pocket vaporizers are the best way to smoke under the radar in most hotel rooms.
A quick internet search will turn up results for cannabis-friendly lodging options. Many of these are advertised through the websites of cannabis tour operators, and each listing specifies what sort of smoking they allow, from use of vaporizers to dab rigs. You can also find boutique hotels such as Denver’s Adiago Bud + Breakfast, where the motto is, “We’ll keep the bowl burning for you.” They offer a “Wake and Bake” breakfast, a “420 Happy Hour,” as well as cannabis-infused massages. All guests of the Bud + Breakfast must be at least 21 years of age.
If themed hotels aren’t your thing and you’re concerned about having your buzz harshed by the smoking regulations in hotel chains, renting a room or residence from a private party is often your best bet. Websites like Airbnb and HomeAway have lots of options; simply search for “420 friendly” to find homeowners who will be pleased to have you toke your vacation away in their home, spare room or guest house.
Ok, I’m Here. What’s Next?
Once you’re settled into your vacation digs, what should you do next? Beer lovers on vacation often take brewery tours, while wine drinkers enjoy visiting wineries. The good news for cannabis connoisseurs is that you can sign up for awesome tours of grow operations. These are perfect tours to educate those who are new to the world of weed, as well as experienced aficionados who have never experienced a behind-the-scenes look at the recreational marijuana industry.
My 420 Tours offers a variety of options that include lodging, 420-friendly transportation (rent a vaporizer for the ride!) and a long list of options to explore. Take a cannabis cooking class. Learn how marijuana concentrates are made. Enjoy a course on beer and cannabis pairings. If you can imagine it, there is a class or a tour for it. For folks who prefer private tours for personal or corporate purposes, My 420 offers those, as well.
You can also head off solo and plan your own day of visiting various grow facilities and dispensaries. Medicine Man in Denver is the largest commercial grow facility in the U.S. Starting with medical marijuana back in 2010 and branching out into recreational cannabis after it was legalized in the state, Medicine Man has always maintained an intense focus on the quality of their product, as well as carrying a huge selection. (You will need to book a tour if you’d like to go behind the scenes, though.)
With so many recreational dispensaries available all over the state, it can be a difficult and exciting choice to know which ones to visit. Wherever you go, you’re likely to find a staff that is eager to educate and assist you in finding the perfect strain or product to suit your needs. Those who are new to purchasing from recreational dispensaries will be dazzled by the huge selection that’s available to them. Want a trippy head high or a relaxing body high? Interested in edibles? Just ask – legal dispensaries are a virtual Willy Wonka world of cannabis concoctions.
There are several dispensaries of note that you may want to visit as you travel around the state. Maggie’s Farm in beautiful Manitou Springs is a popular choice for many due to its proximity to the base of Pike’s Peak. It’s a great way to get in some great bud shopping and spend the day hiking amongst the breathtaking scenery of the Rocky Mountains. For the true marijuana connoisseur, a visit to a dispensary such as STASH, located in A