Marijuana: Visitors to Colorado say it’s difficult to find places to smoke, but not impossible
DENVER — The smell of marijuana pervades the air in front of iBake Denver, one of the few public places where people can get high in Colorado.
Heavy smoke greets visitors who step inside the building. A cluttered table is near the store’s counter. In the back there’s a couch and a few chairs.
Customers sit around the table, smoking cigarettes and joints. Jon K, who declined to give his last name, is one of them. He grew up in Denver and has been frequenting iBake Denver for about three years.
“The people and the environment,” Jon said of his reasons for returning to the store. “I’ve got a daughter. It’s not convenient for me to smoke around her.”
Moments later Jon fires up a propane torch and heats the surface, or plate, of a dab rig. It’s a device used to inhale vapor from dabs — small amounts of concentrated marijuana that resemble shale.
He holds the dab over the plate. The dab rig fills with vapor, which disappears into Jon’s lungs.
Jon compares the tiny dab to inhaling a large blunt in one breath.
“I would say it’s in the top five things in Denver to do,” he added. “It’s the only safe environment for a tourist to smoke.”
Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, and its effects are obvious once leaving the Denver International Airport. Dispensary signs are easy to spot from the Interstate. The businesses are common in Denver’s greater downtown area.
Smokers, however, have few places where they can inhale. The law prohibits people from consuming cannabis openly and publicly. Many hotels restrict its use.
Enter iBake Denver, a private club that allows its members to smoke marijuana, but doesn’t sell it. At iBake, it’s Bring Your Own Marijuana.
Members must be at least 21 years old and complete a membership form. An employee verifies their ID, collects a $10 fee and provides a membership card that’s good for 30 days. Locals only have to pay $2 per visit.
The business has plenty of food and drinks for sale. There’s ice cream, candy and a plethora of snacks. T-shirts are available for those who want a souvenir.
Archie Nelson, the business’ assistant manager, figures about 95 percent of his traffic is from out of state.
“We get a lot of questions about ‘Do we sell?’” he said. “We get that at least three or four times a day.”
Dave Eddington, of Illinois, is a typical iBake visitor. He’s visited Colorado around four or five times, though this was his first visit to iBake. He learned about it from a dispensary.
Sitting on the couch in the back room, Eddington said he wanted to learn more about concentrates, like the one Jon used.
“That’s a big thing here,” he said. “And the edibles.”
Eddington said he has problems with his stomach and hips, which led him to use marijuana. He’s considering moving to Colorado and cited legalized cannabis as the main reason.
Like many visitors, Eddington has found it difficult finding a spot to smoke marijuana. He said some hotels have employees patrol the grounds, looking for guests smoking.
Eddington said he’s seen no one cited for smoking in public.
“Then again, there’s places like this,” he added.
If iBake is on one side of Colorado’s marijuana industry, dispensaries are on the other. The businesses that sell recreational cannabis tend to be orderly. There is no smoking inside these stores. Some employees wear latex gloves when handling their store’s product. One had a security guard checking customer IDs. Others use a regular employee to ensure customers are of legal age.
Like iBake, all verify someone is at least 21 years old before that person is allowed entry.
Dispensaries are scattered throughout Denver’s greater downtown area. One, Good Chemistry, is a short walk from the Capitol.
The entrance to Good Chemistry fronts East Colfax Street, a large thoroughfare that runs through the city. Its front door is nondescript and sees plenty of traffic.
People will line up against a glass display case, asking questions of employees and smelling the various strains of marijuana.
The setup is similar across dispensaries. The Colfax Pot Shop, several blocks away from Good Chemistry, has dab rigs and pipes behind a glass display case. Edibles, like gummies and cookies, are behind a nearby counter.
Jars filled with marijuana rest on a third counter. Customers can open the lids and sniff. An employee noted that one strain smelled like Cap’n Crunch cereal.
Zack Marth, retail manager of Native Roots, a dispensary near iBake, said there are about 600 dispensaries in the Denver area.
Adults can legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana, the same amount Californians could have if Proposition 64, called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, passes on Nov. 8.
In Colorado, all products bought are used to determine the total weight. Edibles, flowers, concentrates and cookies are totaled to see if they are less than an ounce.
An item like a cookie, once bought, is sealed in a pouch. A sticker is affixed that states what it is, how many are included and the total weight, among other identifiers.
Sitting at the table in iBake, Jon said edibles are growing in popularity.
“A lot of people,” he said, “don’t even smoke herb anymore.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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