Colorado’s Amendment 64 passed in 2012; it was first implemented in 2014. In what was looked to be a monumental turning point in drug regulation, Colorado became the first state to fully legalize marijuana for recreational use. At first there was shock and outrage from opposing parties but now, after seeing the positive results of legalization, other states have started to follow in Colorado’s lead. It’s now been a little over a year since marijuana became legal in Colorado for recreational use. I went there to find out how legalization has affected the city of Denver, this is what I found.
After exploring the Denver airport (See https://modernperspective.net/2015/05/04/the-bizarre-art-of-the-denver-airport/) I went to pick up my vehicle at the car rental desk. The rental agent gave the usual car rental pitch but added in a disclaimer. He said, “Be careful when driving on April 20th”. You see I had arrived to Denver on 4/19, the day before Four Twenty. April 20th or Four Twenty has been a subculture holiday where people from all over North America gather and smoke Cannabis. The day has become something of a staple in Denver due to its lenient laws on the possession and consumption of Marijuana. Every year many people make the pilgrimage to Colorado to take part in the holiday and its festivities.
First off I would like to be clear, while Marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado It is still regulated by federal laws. There are several other constraints in place. For example, you can’t smoke in public, doing so is a chargeable offense and is subject to fines. This is not the most strictly enforced law but I did hear of several people getting cited throughout the week. Most business, bars, and clubs do not allow the smoking of marijuana in their facilities. You are allowed to carry up to an ounce of marijuana but it must be kept in a closed container (similar laws exist for alcohol) and driving under the influence of marijuana is treated much the same way as drinking and driving is. The Colorado law states that you can have no more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood otherwise you could be charged with a DUI.
Now I’m not really much of a weed guy. I experimented a bit in high school and college but found out early on that it wasn’t for me — It didn’t make me better at guitar or anything else; it just made me paranoid and uncomfortable. Still I thought it was an important topic so I decided to look into it. I found a nice facility called “Good Chemistry” Once my i.d. was verified at the window; I was allowed to enter the heavily secured store. There was some Dr. Dre playing in the background and I was greeted by a friendly staff. I was helped by a girl named Mary (Real name) who gave me a quick lesson, a sort of “Weed 101.” Apparently all Marijuana falls into one of three categories, Sativa, Indicud and Hybrids (which is a hybrid of the first two). The effect of each one differs greatly. For example– Sativa is better for social settings, or daytime activities; Indicud is better for relaxation and sleep.
At the store, I got a chance to talk to some locals. Most of them were young professionals just looking to relax after a long day at work. I also talked to a few people who opposed legalization. Their main complaint was that they did not want it around them or their kids. Still most could not argue the good that it had done for their economy. When April 20th finally came I went to see for myself how Denver was being affected. Following the rental agent’s warning, I decided to take an uber to Downtown Denver. The driver was telling me about how busy they were during the weekend. He dropped me off at a park which was the location of a 4:20 rally. There were several hundred people gathered at the park, lighting up, and enjoying the day. There were musicians and performers scattered throughout the area. Everyone here was very friendly and optimistic.
I sat down and talked to a few participants. From what I gathered most of the people here were from out of town. I meet this couple from Chicago who were here for the “Cannabis Cup”. The Cannabis Cup, sponsored by High Times, was the premier event for 4/20. It is like a weed expo and many companies were represented at the event. There is no denying it; there is money in the marijuana business.