This year marks over a decade of legal cannabis in Colorado, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate! In the past 10 years, the regulated cannabis industry has flourished, supporting over 40,000 jobs and generating $800 million in tax revenue. In this episode, we’re joined by 3 different guests who share their firsthand experience shopping for legal weed in Colorado, along with tons of valuable insights. Tune in to discover their tips for feeling confident about navigating the legal cannabis scene in Colorado.
Ellen Scanlon (00:00):
This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.
Mary Hines (00:06):
Now having options and really being able to talk to someone about what might work with my endocannabinoids was refreshing and I was finally able to get different strains for different scenarios in my life, whether it’s I’m ready to go work out versus I’m ready to settle down before bed, or just needed a quick pick me up.
Ellen Scanlon (00:32):
Welcome to How To Do The Pot, a podcast helping you feel confident about cannabis for health, wellbeing, and for fun. I’m Ellen Scanlon. You just heard from Mary Hines, the Colorado based founder of Just The Tip, a cannabis brand that makes joint holders. Do you know the first state in the US to legalize cannabis for adult use, which means anyone over 21? It’s actually a tie. In 2012, both Washington State and Colorado voted to legalize. If you’re from Washington or traveling there soon and want to hear more about buying legal weed, check out episode 174. And today because we have a lot of listeners in Colorado, thank you, we are celebrating a decade of legal cannabis in the state.
Cannabis tourism really is a thing, and if you’re headed to Colorado and want to buy some weed, there are a few things you should know about how the adult use cannabis market works there. First, the regulated cannabis industry in Colorado is huge. Since its legalization in 2012, cannabis has brought in over $800 million in tax revenue and it supports more than 40,000 jobs from farmers all the way to retail. You will have lots of places to choose from when you shop for weed there because in Colorado there are more dispensaries than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. When I travel to a new city or country, I love finding ways to experience the unique local culture and cannabis is very local because you can only legally sell weed grown in the state where you’re buying it. So if you decide to tour through Colorado’s dispensaries and menus of strains and products, you are getting a uniquely Colorado experience.
Besides the legal weed, what a beautiful place to take in the sunshine, the snow, the mountains, so much outdoor beauty. And if you fly in and out through Denver or are visiting, the city has some of my favorite art museums, the Clifford Still Museum, Denver Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art. Cannabis really enhances how I experience art and beauty, which is especially fun on trips because things feel kind of amplified anyway when you’re away from home.
A few rules to remember, just like with alcohol, consuming cannabis in public is not permitted. And as much as the mountains may be calling you, since cannabis is still federally illegal, you cannot consume at a national park, at the ski slopes, or in national forests. I cannot speak to enforcement.
Now that you know a little more about Colorado’s cannabis market, I hope you’re excited to check it out, and I know it always helps to hear from other women who have been there. Andrea Wightwick is the Georgia based founder of the premium hemp CBD brand, Hapsy. She has split her time between Georgia and Colorado for over a decade, so she has both an insider and an outsider’s view of the state.
Andrea Wightwick (04:21):
The first time I purchased legal weed was actually after it became recreational. I went into a dispensary up in the high country and I went all by myself. I didn’t know what to expect, honestly. I didn’t even think before I went in there to Google how to shop a dispensary. It was all so new back then, new for me and new just in the market. But I went into a small dispensary and I just remember feeling overwhelmed and also confused. Why are there so many doors? And I had walked into a windowless room with so many cameras on me and doors all around, but they were all shut and it smelled so strong in there and I was just really concerned about that. Are people high while they’re at work? And how are they going to help me if they’re incapacitated it? I’ve worked in consumer goods and retail for two decades now, and so I had a lot of questions once they checked my ID and let me back into the store.
I wanted to see every package and touch them and read every label. I learned pretty quickly that that’s kind of frowned upon. The budtenders, they’ll take things out of a glass case, they’ll let you look at them, but when it comes to actually moving over to checkout, they want to be the ones that put it on a tray and walk it over to checkout for you. All perfectly understandable, but it led to me feeling like I was still doing something seedy and bad even though I was very legally purchasing something at what should feel like a normal retail store. So I just had so many questions as I was not a recreational consumer and I just kept asking questions about the dosage of things. How do I know if 10 milligrams is too much? And why can’t this chocolate bar come in pieces of 5 milligrams instead of 10? If I only want five, why should I have to bite this one in half and leave this half bitten piece of chocolate just hanging around for the next time I’m ready to have some more?
It’s hilarious looking back at it. But the budtender was really nice, helped me find a product that was actually a microdose so I could try that and find what the right dose is for me. And that’s actually where the idea of Hapsy started to come about. I had a really busy life. I still do have a really busy life where I sometimes want a little dose of calm without completely derailing my day or night. So that idea of the microdose was really captivating to me. So overall, it was kind of a scary experience at first, but once I got over that and went into the store, the budtenders, they made me feel really comfortable and allowing myself to be able to ask so many questions that I felt confident in my purchase until I had to go check out. And then I gave them my credit card and realized that I actually needed to pay in cash.
Ellen Scanlon (07:30):
Many dispensaries now accept debit cards, but since cannabis is federally illegal, the whole industry struggles with banking and that’s why it’s still generally a cash business. It’s also why there are security guards. It’s not because you’re in trouble. I think about this sometimes, these first time stories capture a moment in time in cannabis history, in the history of legalization all across the country. The shopping experience for weed is evolving very quickly and will probably be different a few years from now too in ways that we can’t even imagine yet. When Mary Hines, who you heard at the beginning of the show, was shopping for cannabis nine years ago in Colorado, she was also confused by how many doors you had to go through. I had the same experience when I was in Colorado several years ago. It was a little bit like a maze. I’d love to hear if that’s still the setup in dispensaries today.
Mary Hines (08:34):
Being in the dispensary was a little overwhelming at first. Just so many options, so many choices. All the budtenders were very knowledgeable. I was surprised at the price. It was actually a really, really good price for the quantity that I got. I just remember it being very by the book when you first got there, you couldn’t go in right away. There was only so many people could go in. You had to give your ID and then there was a waiting area, and then there was another door that was locked. It was very secure, but when you went in, it was like the Apple Store of weed. Everything was nicely laid out, you could see all the buds, you had all the strain information, had every product you can think of, and everyone was very helpful, the knowledge that the budtenders had, and they were very friendly, so that made it a lot easier.
I was so used to just getting one strain, not really even knowing what it was. But now having options and really being able to talk to someone about what might work with my endocannabinoids was refreshing, and I was finally able to get different strains for different scenarios in my life. Whether it’s ready to go work out versus I’m ready to settle down before bed or just needed a quick pick me up. Having all those options was really great. I don’t think I’ve ever had a negative experience purchasing legal cannabis. The price has just gone up and up and up and up and up, though. That really top shelf stuff is ridiculous. But my very first time buying legal weave was pleasant in Colorado. Beautiful experience. Very fond memories overall.
Ellen Scanlon (10:26):
Today’s last story is from Colorado based Sasha Kalcheff-Korn, the executive director of a non-profit called Realm of Caring Foundation, which serves anyone in need of more information about cannabis therapies. Her story is partly about how she paid attention to how she shops, and once she realized that shopping for weed is still shopping, she knew just what to do.
Sasha Kalcheff-Korn (10:57):
I like to think that I have two different legal buying experiences. So my first, very first legal buying experience, I simply asked the budtender, what do you like? And I left with, I believe a pre-roll and a pack of gummies, and it felt like an impulse buying decision that you might make when standing in the checkout line. And so with this, I feel it’s necessary to say I am a terrible in-person shopper. I really do need things to sit in my virtual cart for at least five days to see if I actually want it or not.
So then my second legal buying experience, I feel it went much better. I was determined and now knowledgeable. I was a mother on a mission to find something to assist my sleep, so I would stop waking up thinking that my infant son was about to fall down the stairs. And so I researched the dispensary menu ahead of time, I understood what I wanted based on research and showed up with confidence for my purchase. It was exactly what I wanted, it was efficient, and I found an edible product that I was happy with.
Ellen Scanlon (12:03):
If you’re looking for tips about cannabis and sleep, check out How To Do The Pot’s Sleep 101 series. Thank you to our guests today for their different perspectives on buying weed in Colorado. Since there are currently 21 states in the US with legal cannabis, stay tuned. We have a lot more local stories to share with you. If you have bought weed in Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or New York, I am dying to hear all about it. Please send us your story in a voice note to firstname.lastname@example.org. My goal with sharing these stories with you is to take this scary out of doing something that was illegal for a long time and to help you feel supported, less alone, and a little lighthearted when you decide to shop for cannabis. I really want you to have fun. Thank you for listening to How To Do The Pot. For lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com. Thanks to our writer, Devin Andrade and our producers, Madi Fair and Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon and we’ll be back soon with more of How To Do The Pot.