42. Buying Weed Legally

Yesterday, a small miracle occurred in our nation. Marijuana was sold in legal retail form to the unwashed (and washed) masses of Colorado. What many would have thought to be a pipe dream (*RIMSHOT*) a decade ago is now a reality. A full day has gone by and it would appear to the layperson that Colorado has not yet fallen into a criminal anarchy nor has the state been overtaken by shambling drug zombies. In that sense, the end of marijuana prohibition has been a rousing success so far. Mission accomplished everyone. We can all move onto our next pet issue. Personally, I want to be able to drive on sidewalks. While burning the flag.

I have to admit that after four years in New Mexico where laws are more like suggestions and the question is not whether you do drugs but how many drugs you (currently) do, the notion of buying weed legally may not seem like a giant change from the status quo. However, I have the good fortune of being in Colorado during this admittedly historic moment in our social history. I may not have voted in 2008 and been a part of the electorate that brought the first black man to the White House, but god damnit I owe it to myself as a twentysomething college graduate American citizen to be one of the first to legally purchase weed in our country. My priorities are questionable.

I held off on venturing out to buy during Green Wednesday for a myriad of reasons, most primarily the number of news stories I was reading about people who were camped outside dispensaries awaiting their opening. I realized that if there were people  who were that hard up for weed that they would camp out in order to obtain it, they surely deserved it more than me. In other words, I was too lazy to buy pot.

But today was different. Mostly in the sense that I had run dry, but that’s besides the point. I spent the morning cruising the internet for dispensaries that were actually open because although it is now legal to sell there are only twenty-ish shops in the entire state that actually have approval. And most of them are in Denver. Luck was on my side, however, as I found one less than 50 miles away in Northglenn. After consulting my schedule and seeing a giant blank staring back at me, I hopped in my car and made the relatively nondescript drive to the nondescript Northglenn.

The dispensary itself was called Botanacare and was a little hole-in-the-wall business tucked away in a strip of other hole-in-the-wall businesses that would have otherwise gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the three or four Botanacare employees outside in bright high-lighter yellow shirts directing traffic like Bon Jovi was pulling in around the fucking block. As I pulled into the strip, one of the employees had me roll down my window and asked if I was here for Botanacare. Essentially making sure that I had to go whole hog and out myself as a big stoner douche. After sheepishly confirming this fact, he directed me toward the parking area and informed me that I would probably be waiting for at least two hours. I’ve never taken a U-Turn harder.

Five minutes later I was about to take the exit back to the highway and Fort Collins and had a sudden attack of conscience. Except my conscience also doubles as my biggest source of peer pressure.

“Hey Pussy!” he screamed (because Pussy is his pet name for me), “you’re gonna turn down the novelty of buying pot with no legal hassle just because you have to wait two hours? What kind of American are you?”

I had no choice but to turn around. I pulled back into the parking lot, made a lame excuse to the parking attendant (who no doubt that I was some sort of psychotic for leaving and coming back), and assumed my rightful place in line. There were about a dozen of us in line to get through the actual door. Door security was understandably tight. When every drug enforcement agency has their eyes tuned in to Colorado for any kind of fuck-up no matter how small, it’s kind of common sense.

I found myself in line directly in front of a seventy-something year old man who boasted proudly of how he wakes up at every morning at 4 AM to smoke and watch the marines fire their rifles. Shortly afterwards the discussion turned toward how his son breeds lizards and how his basement is filled with pot plants and reptiles. Anytime there was a break in conversation he would take in a sharp breath and exclaim “Today is a BEAUTIFUL day!” I realized that we were becoming friends as we were given tickets at the door (like a raffle) and ushered into the building.

Let me pause this narration to dismiss a fantasy or two. Those of you romantic potheads (I know you exist) might be picturing all dispensaries as a cross between a head shop and a liquor store. Whole lotta hippie schwag everywhere, incense burning, Phish on the store soundtrack, rows upon rows of buckets set up with strain upon strain, employees rushing around and trying to help you find your perfect strain and become a better you. And all the while, Willy Wonka is walking around singing “Pure Imagination” while huffing on a blunt.

To my colossal disappointment, this was not the case. Being at a dispensary is very much like being in line at the world’s busiest and most understaffed post office. The room  was bare of practically any furnishings except for about three dozen plastic chairs at the very end so people could take breaks in their two hour standing bonanza, a few posters about marijuana safety and regulation, and a giant table where the dispensary employees worked three at a time trying to process orders. You got to this table after waiting approximately an hour and a half for the line (which is 75+ people strong) to go down while the in-house radio was tuned in to your dad’s classic rock station. They played Gimme Shelter though, so I survived. After you placed your order, you waited in a sort-of-separated area in the room for them to call your number so that you could go into ANOTHER room in order to verify and pay for your order. They would then seal it inside a bag that you were legally required to purchase (bastards) and send you on your way.

One of the more pleasant surprises about being there were the myriad kinds of people that came to buy. Sure, there was a solid handful of “Oh yeah, THAT guy smokes pot” people sprinkled in the crowd (my new friend with the lizard son included), but they were balanced out by enough elderly couples, hip looking fortysomethings, stressed out looking moms, and regular Joe’s that I could start to feel a bit of relief that maybe now the world will finally realize weed isn’t just for college students and hippies. As I was waiting for my order to be filled, I eavesdropped on two guys behind me who looked older than my dad going over the various merits of edibles. Far out, man.

Another observation: The sheer amount of pot and hemp related products available is infuckingsane. Not counting the various accessories and edibles being peddled by the dispensary, I saw advertisements for lotions, lip balms, soaps, recipes, oils of various kinds, paper, and godonlyknowshowmany smoke side products. Mark my words, in a decade companies will be literally falling over themselves trying to jump on this marketing bandwagon. It will be a sight for the ages. The Superbowl will be mythical.

After all was said and done and I was driving back to Fort Collins with the buds of my labor, I reflected on my very first experience of purchasing weed legally. I found it to be a hassle, time consuming, stressful, and kind of more expensive than I would like. So basically just the same as purchasing weed the other, normal way. Like I said, mission accomplished. Good job, America.

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