A Houstonian's Guide to the Colorado Cannabis Scene

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A $39 Frontier Airlines flight from IAH to Denver can jet any Houstonian to their first legal bag of cannabis in Colorado in a bit over two hours. So as a service to the Texas cannabis community, the Houston Press hereby undertakes the onerous task of touring the plethora of pot clubs in the Colorado Springs area.

The first issue with Amendment 64: it gave Coloradans a constitutional right to consume marijuana but left implementation to each individual county, resulting in a patchwork approach like a Jamaican wool cap. So while purchasing weed at dispensaries is allowed in Denver, you won't find public Amsterdam-style coffee shops. Oddly, a Marley spliff-sized gap in the laws in Colorado Springs allows public coffee shops but no dispensaries. Tokers can rent a car in Denver and drive I-25 south to the land of Focus on the Family, the Air Force Academy and America's first experiment in openly legal public marijuana consumption.

Hotwire has the Comfort Inn near downtown for $49 a night – with a free breakfast for "wake and bake" needs. Across the street in a skeevy strip mall is The Family Joint, a typical example of what to expect from these establishments. Peer inside the blacked out windows. "Open 3-whenever" says the sign. Ring a buzzer and a 30-something balding dude comes to the door with suspiciously pineapple eyes. He smiles and opens the doors of perception wide to show how it works.

To summarize: patrons sign a waiver granting the club each individual patron's constitutional right to grow cannabis, thereby allowing the club to "sell" it via a point card system similar to Dave and Busters. Bongs, pipes and papers line a counter. Munchies are for sale and couches are set up in front of video game consoles, a pool table and a jukebox. The place looks like a stoner's high school rec room.  

One word of caution: management is a bit inattentive once they have the money. The street dealer rule of "don't taste the stash" clearly doesn't apply here."Wax," a high THC content chemical distillate comparable to resin or hash is very popular at these establishments. "Flower" is term for God's green plant. So be careful not to stupidly tear the tip off the first bud in sight and try to pick up the bowl of a wax bong barehanded. At 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the effect is like burning a finger on the kitchen stove. And because all the partons are stoned to the edge of oblivion, expect indifference to any cries of pain. The budtender might stir herself from her iPhone to slur, "Dude, you didn't touch that did you? It's hot." Then she will sell you a cup of ice or can of Coke for a dollar to place against throbbing fingertips. It's kind of a buzzkill but as with any new skill, practice makes perfect.

And Colorado Springs has plenty of places to practice. All possess the same absurd names as if brainstormed in the joint circle on That 70's Show. But whether named The Family Joint, Club 420, The Lazy Lion, Club 64 (after the amendment) or The Dab Lounge ("Dabs" are another name for wax and they even have a mascot: Dabs the Dog!), the basic approach remains the same. So toke until it burns to a roach, sit back and thank God the United States is finally abandoning hemp prohibition and adopting a rational ganja policy, at least some place.

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