Our recent trip to Denver found businesses open, people shopping, clerks running cash registers without apparent error, public transit running smoothly, restaurants serving food, the weather channel reporting local weather and abstract expressionist works hanging evenly on the walls of the Clyfford Still Museum.
In response to the question at the front desk “What brings you to Denver?” our reply, “to visit the marijuana shops,” brought smiles. The concierges matter-of-factly provided information about shops in the area, as well as advice about where one could go to smoke: “in the alley next to the hotel.” There are no public establishments where one is free to smoke marijuana as there are in Amsterdam.
We chose to visit a shop euphoniously named EuFlora. At the basement level shop our IDs were checked by a security guard immediately upon entry. The place is large, brightly lit and clean; bottled samples of marijuana are displayed on tables and separated by type: sativa, indica and hybrid.
Each sample is accompanied by a iPad mini that gives potential buyers information about the potency level and type of high to be expected, as well as the known medical uses or negative effects. Buyers are encouraged to “smell before buying.” Smelling the marijuana is done by removing the lids of the display jars, which have inner, separate seals with holes in them.
Legal marijuana is not cheap: $20 per gram in addition to a hefty tax. A wide array of paraphernalia, various marijuana-laced edibles (candy and cookies), T-shirts and posters are also for sale. In Denver, a limited number of tours of growing operations are available, but none are half-day and all are expensive, about $350 per person, refreshments included.
Advice from our trip: Enjoy the freedom and have fun while you’re there, but do not attempt to bring marijuana back with you. Traveling on Amtrak (as we did) is pleasant, but on the return trip, when the train made it’s first stop in Lincoln, Neb. at 3:20 a.m., the police came aboard with a drug dog.
We realized how quickly the sense of freedom enjoyed in Colorado could be turned to one of fear and intimidation as the police knocked on the doors of sleepers, waking people up and asking if they had brought anything back from their visit to Denver.
Daily life in Denver is proceeding normally; legalized marijuana has not resulted in mayhem and crime. The real craziness? While Colorado is concerned that marijuana plants’ high value will provoke plant rustling (forget cows!), Nebraska and Iowa assiduously apprehend and punish people who use it.