While there have yet to be any eyewitness reports of pigs flying, marijuana for recreational use is now legal in Colorado.
The first in the world to do so, Colorado legalized marijuana for personal use on January 1st, 2014.
Regardless of your knowledge of marijuana, or lack there of, there is much to understand about Colorado’s recreational marijuana laws, products, and progression.
What you need to know
Recreational Marijuana is being handled and controlled much like how Alcohol is from a government perspective. Like a liquor store, a dispensary must have all the required licenses, documentation and control.
While these measures may seem excessive, they are all in place to ensure employee and customer safety as well as preventing illegal enterprises from setting up shop.
Dispensaries; recreational and medical alike, are all expected to provide value to their communities and uphold their duty to provide quality products in compliance with state regulations.
Much like the sale of alcohol, you must be 21 years of age or older to buy recreational cannabis products. Unlike alcohol, you’re limited in the amount you can ultimately purchase.
For instance, a Colorado resident is allowed to purchase up to a full ounce of cannabis whereas an out-of-state resident will only be allowed to purchase up to a quarter ounce. Before any non-Coloradans get upset about this regulation, keep in mind that a quarter ounce provides even the seasoned smoker with an abundant amount of weed.
For those with their medical cards (Colorado residents only) you’re limit is 2 ounces unless otherwise pre-approved for increased amounts.
Keeping with the theme of comparing dispensaries to alcohol-establishments, there are regulated hours in which you can purchase cannabis for recreational and medical purposes.
Excluding Denver where cannabis cannot be sold after 7 pm, recreational shops are allowed to operate between the hours of 8 am and midnight.
While there are time restrictions, the beauty of legalized cannabis as that there’s always tomorrow!
Medical Marijuana vs Recreational Marijuana
Weed’s legal. Now what? What should you get? Lucky for you, there is an incredibly wide variety of products to entice the seasoned cannabis fan.
Stop with your friends to pick up some top-shelf flowers for a fun night in, or grab yourself a vaporizer pen before you hit the slopes for some skiing (use responsibly).
While there is a large selection of recreational products to choose from, most dispensaries operate under medical and recreational licenses. But don’t get confused, as they are separate from one another.
The key differences between medicinal and recreational cannabis comes down to dosage, quantity, and price. Medical patients are allowed access to larger quantities of cannabis and higher dosages per purchase.
In regards to pricing, recreational cannabis is typically more expensive than medicinal often to cover the overhead costs of acquiring and managing a licensed, recreational marijuana facility.
As this industry progresses and business owners recoup overhead costs, expect recreational prices to drastically decrease to number closer to their medicinal counterparts.
Pot Etiquette & What’s legal
There’s nothing better than walking the streets of Denver while smoking a joint. Am I right? Wrong.
It is still illegal to consume cannabis in public places. While police may not strictly enforce it, it’s still illegal and obnoxious to other people who may not want to be around it.
A good alternative to lighting up in public is either consuming an edible or using a trendy vaporizer pen, as they emit no odor or smoke.
If you’re visiting from out of state, please take note that while cannabis may be legal here, it’s not anywhere else and therefore is absolutely, 100% forbidden from being transported across state lines. Don’t even try it.
Don’t be afraid to not know what you’re talking about when you finally are in a dispensary. Bud Tenders are extremely knowledgeable and can be very helpful for the first time shopper.
Are you one of those people who think they “drive better high”? You’ll be looking at thousands of dollars of fines and possible jail time if you’re caught behind the wheel.
Colorado recently released an ad campaign highlighting this very issue with poignant slogan of “Drive High, Get a DUI”. Heed their warnings because they are not taking this issue casually.
Industry of Progress
We’ve come a long way over the years and have everything to thank to the all of the activists who fought for this legislation.
We’ve measured the success of medicinal marijuana through the patients it helps and have translated that to a responsible, sound structure for retail use.
The days of needless incarceration for petty marijuana offenses are in the rear view mirror and we can only hope other states follow suite.
It will take the continued support of patients, doctors and activists alike to carry out this progressive vision. Given the status of the industry today, the future looks bright.