Pot Tourism in Colorado: The Do’s and Don’ts to Keep You Out of Jail

You’ve finally done it. You booked your trip. You’ve committed to that vacation you so desperately deserve. And you can smell the weed already.

At this point – you’re daydreaming about walking down the street and sparking up a joint or casually smoking a bowl with a group of friends at a coffee shop. And now, I’m about to crush that dream.

“Right now marijuana consumption is on house arrest.“

That’s what Edible Events founder Jane West told us when she took the America team on a marijuana tour around Denver.

“We need to answer this question so that people can go somewhere,” Jane explained. “There are thousands of tourists coming in every week for this purpose but there is actually nowhere in public they can legally consume it.”

West knows all about public consumption. Her company – Edible Events — orchestrates catered events that bring together cannabis consumers.

And she also made her way into the headlines when her 9-to-5 employer axed her. West violated the company’s drug policy on the CNBC documentary “Marijuana in America.”

Their loss was definitely our gain. West first took us to the 3D Cannabis Center. It’s a medical and recreational dispensary. This tourist attraction gained fame after conducting the first sale of recreational marijuana on January 1st of this year, and the boom hasn’t stopped since.

Director of Operations Christie Lunsford says the business had to limit its hours of recreational sale – in hopes of rationing their supply.

We were invited into the dispensary’s VIP room, where customers are offered a one-on-one consultation with a “budtender.”

It was personal and informative. We loved every minute of it – until we learned that you can’t smoke what you buy here, on or near business premises.

In fact – you can hardly smoke anywhere. Colorado dispensaries have to abide by the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act. According to the law, you can’t smoke in retailers, bars or restaurants, in cabs or mass transportation, as well as several other places.

Basically – if you can’t smoke a cigarette there, you can’t smoke pot there either.

“They [marijuana consumers] should not be smoking in public, they shouldn’t be smoking in vehicles and driving,” Jane explained. “So, there are places that are really pushing to be able to have consumption happen on their premises whether it’s a bar, restaurant or private club. Right now, it’s a gray area.”

Next, we were off to Karmaceuticals – another local dispensary. Outside, the building resembled many of the other dispensaries in Colorado. They are contained in bland drab buildings with no advertising, no lights and no bells or whistles.

According to Colorado’s Amendment 64, marijuana retailers cannot advertise unless they can prove that at least 30% of their audience is over the age of 21.

Despite a lackluster outside appearance, the inside of Karmaceuticals held an array of exciting cannabis products.

“We have some of the most potent strains of THC in the world,” co-founder Austin Martinson said as he escorted our team through rooms of green beauties.

He had weed, schwag and pipes. But if you wanted to actually buy the good stuff, you would need a marijuana license – or a “red card.” That’s because Karmaceuticals only sells to medical patients. But just because they can buy, it doesn’t mean they can consume it here.

It’s a shame. And, I personally wept when I learned that I couldn’t buy Austin’s Karma Blunt. This magnificent creation contained an ounce of marijuana, a gram of wax, a gram of dry ice hash, and a gram of hash oil.

At this point – we were getting hungry. Go figure.

West and her crew took us to Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar. Earlier this year, the restaurant ran a promotion pairing sushi and entree dishes to marijuana you may have consumed before showing up. If you smoked Pakistani Kush, you should order the Pakalolo Shrimp. With the Sour OG, the restaurant recommends the Honey Miso Salmon. If you toked up with Platinum Cookies, they suggest you try their new style sashimi.

But alas – you can’t smoke here either.

For the last stop on our trip, we headed to a puff, pass, and paint class. It’s like those wine and canvas classes you’ve seen pop up in your Groupon emails. This was – by far – one of the coolest experiences our team had in Denver. The vibe was mellow, and the food was great.

Heidi Keyes is a visual artist and mastermind behind this class.

“It’s been really exciting because I first, when I first was thinking about this idea I kind of put it out on Facebook and I was like ‘Hey, who would be interested in this?’ so I would start something like this.” Keyes told us.

“And it was really overwhelming like the people that were interested and it’s kind of been word of mouth. I mean this wouldn’t have been possible three months ago.”

If you’re headed to Colorado, you should sign up for this class. Why, you ask? As if you need more convincing – but you can ACTUALLY smoke here. The puff, pass, and paint event operates in a private residence where the owner has given the green light to smoke.

Under Colorado’s current marijuana law, this is the only place where you can legally smoke. So if you’re headed to the Centennial state for the sole purpose of getting high, here’s our advice: make a friend with a chill landlord.

Credit: Mitchell Williams, Lauren Santa Cruz, Johanna Usma, Randal Sommers