Useful Tips for Pot Tourists Headed to Colorado

marijuana dispensary
••• A budtender shows off cannabis at Native Roots. Photo courtesy of Native Roots

Napa Valley has its famed wineries. Kentucky has its bourbon trail. As for Colorado? It’s got legal weed. And lots of it, with nearly 400 recreational dispensaries in Denver alone, and social smoking venues cropping up.

Expert Tips From a Pot Pro

Whether you're a newbie to weed (in any form), or you're curious about the general pot culture and scene in Colorado, we've got some answers for you. We spoke with Michael Pyatt, the lead trainer at Native Roots (a dispensary with locations throughout Colorado) to get his best tips about how to have the best Rocky Mountain high experience.

Q: What's your best advice for a first-time pot smoker?
A: We recommend starting with a low dose and taking it slow. Various amounts of cannabis affect users differently. And if you chose edibles, they can take up to two hours to take full effect.

One common side effect of cannabis is anxiety, so if that happens, know that it's ok if you do, and that the feeling will subside. Not everyone does, but it's something to be aware of, especially for your first time. Also if that happens, you can also use several techniques to help with anxiety, including taking deep breaths and drinking plenty of water.

Q: What's the number one question tourists ask you?
A: The most common question we’re asked is "Am I really going to feel 10 milligrams?" The answer is yes. Most users experience a pleasant and euphoric high after consuming 10 mg of edibles. In fact, most people feel the effects of cannabis after eating only 5 mg.

Q: Any particular strains that are best for first-time pot smokers?
A: Here are three of my favorite strands and why I recommend each one.

  • Jillybean (Sativa Hybrid): Jillybean was bred originally for stress and anxiety relief. It's stimulating for daytime use but not overly potent.
  • Sour Tsunami (CBD Sativa Hybrid): Sour Tsunami became famous for being one of the first strains bred for CBD content rather than THC.
  • Granddaddy Purple “GDP” (Indica): Grandaddy Purps is legendary for its calming and relaxing effects. New users will only need a couple of puffs to feel the relief.

Learn more about the types of cannabis and their effects here.

Q: What's next for cannabis in Colorado?
A: The cannabis industry and culture is still in its infancy nationwide. However, I think terpenes are going to be a huge point of discussion very soon in Colorado. Terpenes are organic compounds found in plants, including cannabis, and they have different effects on users based on what strain they’re used with. Already in Colorado, companies are experimenting with adding terpenes to different cannabinoids to create a certain experience, every time. It’s possible that combining different terpenes will ensure someone has a specific type of high—like relaxing or creative—every time.

Important Laws to Know Before You Visit

If you’re coming to Colorado to partake in the pot culture, there are a few things you should know as you blaze your trail.

You Need to Be 21 to Buy It.
Yes, you can absolutely purchase recreational marijuana, even if you’re not a resident of Colorado. However, you do need to be at least 21 years of age. Also, Colorado residents are allowed to purchase up to one ounce of weed at a time, but state law dictates non-residents can only purchase one-fourth of an ounce at a time.

Also, many tourists imagine the bud scene to be akin to the bar scene. But, city regulations require dispensaries in Denver to close by 7 p.m., so you’ll want to get your marijuana run in during the day. However, there are some nearby cities that have regulations that allow dispensaries to stay open later. As an example, dispensaries in Aurora, which is southeast of Denver, can stay open until 9 p.m. Just west of Denver, in Edgewater, dispensaries are allowed to stay open until midnight. Same goes for Glendale, which borders Denver and has been compared to a mini-Vegas because of its strip clubs and bars.

Public Smoking Isn't Allowed.
While you can't smoke pot in public, Denver did become the first city to legalize social marijuana use when voters in 2016 passed a measure that will eventually allow people to use it in bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.

However, city officials have just begun reviewing license applications and there are some legal hurdles because city rules require social marijuana places can't be within 1,000 feet of schools, rehab facilities and childcare centers. (Translated: Denver isn't quite like Amsterdam, where tourists can enjoy the marijuana scene in cafes). 

You Can't Travel With It.
It’s against the law since marijuana is still illegal on a federal level and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a federal agency. When it comes to stats, about 55 million people pass through Denver International Airport each year. In 2015, officers stopped 30 people traveling with pot, according to 9News. None were issued citations, but they did toss out their stashes before boarding their planes.