The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado has brought with it an influx of cannabis tourism. There are certainly no shortage of places to shop and things to do for any looking to partake — as of early 2018, the city of Denver has 169 recreational marijuana stores, known throughout the state as dispensaries. A number of tour operators have cropped up offering indulgent experiences including sushi and joint rolling classes, grow house visits, and nights on the town in a smoke-friendly party bus.
Out of state visitors can buy a quarter oz at a time, along with all kinds of edibles, tinctures, lotions, and just about anything else that can be infused. The biggest issue many tourists face comes after the purchase: unless they sign up for a cannabis-specific tour or activity, it’s near impossible to find a place where a visitor can legally consume their pot. You can’t smoke in cars unless they are parked on private property, and lighting up at parks or cigarette smoking areas is definitely illegal. You can hang out at a bar and try to befriend a local in hopes of being invited to partake back at their place, but there’s certainly no guarantee of that happening.
The one place of refuge for visitors looking to get high is cannabis-friendly hotels. There are a growing number of them throughout the state, primarily in the Denver metro area, and many of them are actually in major hotel chains. Booking these green-friendly hotel rooms is about as straightforward as booking any other hotel room, with one key exception: you won’t know the name of your hotel until you book it.
Booking your hotel room
Cannabis tour operators such as My420Tours list the available options and make the booking process a breeze, but omit the actual names of the hotels. Instead, you’ll find a list of hotels vaguely named after their neighborhood in the city. Many of the hotels which allow in-room vaping are large national chains and (perhaps wisely) don’t want their name or logo listed on the booking pages. We can’t even tell you which chains are on the list (thanks, NDAs) but a quick Google search of the locations though should give you a pretty good idea. As a customer, you can pick out a room and browse on-site amenities, and you’ll learn the brand name after your booking is confirmed.
This is among the more interesting developments of customer-facing legal cannabis. Major hotel brands want to dip into the money pool that cannabis tourism has brought to Colorado but they don’t want their digital image associated with pot smoking, should a customer who doesn’t favor recreational use search the hotel’s name online.
Can I bring my own smoking accessories?
The simple answer is no. With very few exceptions, you’re not allowed to smoke anything indoors in public places in Colorado, and most hotels throughout the state have enacted non-smoking policies in their rooms. Your best bet is to leave your pipe or bong at home unless you have a place to smoke, like someone’s house, or are going on a cannabis tour. During my stay in a green hotel in Denver I was informed by a staff member that if I wanted to smoke a joint, I could go outside to the designated smoking area.
All smoking in the rooms is done by a process called vaping. Upon check-in, you’ll receive a sealed case containing a vaporizer, which allows you to “vaporize” the cannabis before inhaling it. The weed is turned into a vapor which you then inhale through a setup similar to that of a hookah. This way, you’re not technically smoking anything and not breaking any laws. This allows the hotels to skirt around Colorado’s indoor smoking ban. Once in your room, plug in the vaporizer, add your weed, and go to town.
A quick note: hotels themselves don’t provide the cannabis. You’ll have to visit a dispensary and pick up what you need (here’s a map of what’s around you based on your GPS location). If you haven’t shopped at one before, be ready to feel like you’re back in grade school. The clerks behind the counter, appropriately known as Bud Tenders, seemingly have a knowledge of pot that rivals Newton’s knowledge of physics. You’ll likely hear a lot of language you don’t understand, but the one key thing to grasp is whether you want your pot to be Indica or Sativa dominant. Indica is known to be the heavier of the two, causing more of a sedating full body high, while Sativa is the more active and has been said to cause more of a buzzed head high.
Checking out and leaving the hotel
For final check-out, put the vaporizer back in its case and return it to the front desk along with your room key. Make sure you hand the case to an employee and don’t just set it on the counter and take off. If someone were to take it, you’d be liable for the cost of the vaporizer. Leaving your pot behind is also recommended unless you’re heading to a sanctioned cannabis-centric activity. The attitude towards being high in Colorado is similar to what you’ll find towards drinking alcohol — the vast majority of people are open-minded about it. Keep your act together and you’ll be fine.