Legal Marijuana at Pedal the West
Here’s some information for those who like marijuana
and for those who don’t.
The short version:
• Recreational marijuana is legal for adults where we pedal in Colorado.
• You want to enjoy some legal weed? Great. Info below.
• You want nothing to do with weed -- you don't want to see it or smell it? Great. Got you covered. Nothing about the ride has changed. It's still the same wonderful Pedal the West ride we've run for years. This is NOT The Marijuana Ride.
The longer version, which is at least 72% more interesting:
Imagine if instead of Colorado, we were pedaling through beautiful Kentucky.
Some people might stop at a store and buy a bottle of Kentucky’s famous whiskey.
Other people couldn’t care less about whiskey and would skip it.
Same idea here.
During Pedal the West some people might stop at a store and buy some of Colorado's famous legal marijuana.
Other people couldn’t care less about marijuana and will skip it.
If you don't like marijuana you will never see it, smell it, or be encouraged to use it during this ride.
• • •
Think about any other ride you’ve ever been on. At the end of the day someone might say, “I’m going to grab a beer -- anyone want to come along?” Those who want a beer go; those who don’t want a beer don’t.
Not much difference here.
At the end of the day someone might say, “I’m going off to smoke some [legal] marijuana -- anyone want to come along?” Those who want to smoke go; those who don’t want to smoke don’t.
• • •
Back home there are lots of places that are No Smoking areas -- bars, restaurants, hotel lobbies.... Colorado is the same way, except a No Smoking sign in Colorado means no smoking tobacco or marijuana. If you want to avoid marijuana entirely you’ll have no trouble doing so.
• • •
If we were pedaling in Cuba we’d provide you with information about where to get Cuban cigars. At this writing those cigars are still illegal at home and not necessarily great for your health, but we know that some folks on the trip would like that info. Mature adults could decide for themselves whether they wanted a Cuban cigar or not.
We’ll do the same thing here -- provide information about where to get legal Colorado marijuana. Mature adults can decide for themselves whether they want it or not.
The rest of this page contains information only for those adults who want to buy legal marijuana.
Not of interest to you? Just skip it.
WHO CAN BUY AND USE MARIJUANA IN COLORADO?
Anyone who is at least 21 years old, whether they are from Colorado or not.
Minors can not buy or use marijuana in Colorado, and may not enter marijuana stores.
HOW MUCH WEED CAN I BUY? WHERE DO I GET IT? WHAT'S IT COST?
Easy there big fellah!
The landscape is changing fast, but at this writing here’s where we are:
How Much Can I Buy?
The Minimum -- The smallest purchase in most stores is one gram. You can often buy pre-rolled joints for less than the price of one gram.
The Maximum -- If you are not from Colorado you can buy a maximum of 7 grams (about 1/4 oz) of weed at a time.
If you are a Colorado resident you can buy up to one ounce.
All adults -- resident or visitor -- can legally possess a maximum of one ounce
Please be aware that today’s legal marijuana is much MUCH stronger than what you may have experienced back in your youth. I wouldn’t rush in and buy the maximum-allowed 1/4 ounce all at once until you’ve taken it for a test drive; you might wind up using only a small fraction of that purchase and then have to throw away the rest before you leave Colorado -- more info below.
Where to Buy Legal Marijuana
Marijuana shops in Colorado are called dispensaries. Again, you must be 21 years old to enter a dispensary. Don't forget that marijuana is illegal in Utah, so no dispensaries when we get there.
Most dispensaries offer recreational and medical marijuana. This is pretty much the exact same product -- the only difference is that medical marijuana is not taxed. Recreational marijuana is taxed at 15%.
There are still a very few medical-only dispensaries. To buy medical marijuana you need a valid Colorado medical marijuana card prescribed by a doctor. Out-of-state medical marijuana cards are not honored in Colorado. (So if you're going to a dispensary make sure they sell recreational marijuana and not just medical marijuana. This information is usually right on their web site.)
Just like liquor stores back home, marijuana dispensaries vary from kinda cheesy to elegant full-service locations.
If you are driving yourself from Denver to Vail, you can use Google Maps (!!!) to find dispensaries en route.
Coolest Dispensary Near Denver Airport
4305 Brighton Blvd
Denver, CO 80216
Worth a stop. This dispensary has a marijuana growing facility attached to it. At most dipensaries you wait your turn and then step to the counter one at a time and someone serves you. This is one of the few dispensaries where you can wander around and browse.
Dispensaries on the Drive from Denver to Vail
842 N Summit Blvd
Frisco, CO 80443
Open 9 a.m. - 7:50 p.m.
861 N Summit Blvd
Frisco, CO 80443
Open 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.
These two dispensaries are near each other. Go to the one that isn't crowded!
If You Get to Vail and Want to Visit the Nearest Dispensary
For mysterious reasons the town of Vail has banned all dispensaries. (You'll see some CBD-only stores, but nothing that will get you high.)
If you get to Vail and decide you want to go for a drive, the nearest dispensary is 6.8 miles away:
Avon, CO 81620
It's around back, next to Vail Brewing Company, AND there's usually a taco truck parked outside. Smart.
Open 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
I Don't Have a Car!
Not to worry!
You will pedal past several dispensaries on the first-day ride from Vail to Glenwood Springs, and we will mark them on the route sheet. There is another dispensary across the street from the hotel in Glenwood Springs. Stop if you want to; skip it if you prefer. (This is an example of a time you may want to bring a lock, or just have a fellow rider watch your bike while you shop. You can not bring your bike inside the dispensary).
Prices are always changing, and dispensaries often have daily sales and specials, like any other retailer.
At this writing we’re seeing prices for grams from $9 - $30, plus 15% sales tax.
Buying seven grams at once (1/4 ounce) can often save you 10 percent - 15 percent over the by-the-gram price. (But again, beware of buying too much at once and then having to throw it away before passing through airport security -- details below).
How Do I Buy Legal Marijuana?
To buy marijuana you will need a government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver’s license or passport) that shows that you are at least 21 years old. You must show your photo I.D. every single time you shop, no matter how old you look. Your personal information is not recorded.
At many (but not all) dispensaries you enter a waiting room first, where they will check your I.D. From there they will call you when it's your turn to enter the main sales room.
MOST dispensaries are CASH ONLY -- no cards; no checks.
We are starting to see a few dispensaries accept debit cards (no credit cards; DEBIT cards) but they will add on a fee of about $4. (What you're really doing is making an out-of-town ATM withdrawl right at the cash register and then giving them the cash.) Other dispensaries may have a regular ATM machine in the lobby.
Why no credit cards?
Because even though marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is illegal in most of the U.S., so the banks and credit card processors are afraid of running afoul of federal regulators. This may change by the time we leave for our trip, but at this writing it’s still mostly cash only.
Most shops have a menu posted in their store and on their web site showing the various marijuana strains (varieties) they have for sale. Menus can change daily, and items do sell out, so call ahead if there’s a particular strain you have your heart set on.
Most dispensaries also sell pre-rolled joints, marijuana edibles (pot cookies, candies, drinks, and brownies...), marijuana concentrates (also known as wax or shatter), pipes, vape pens, and other smoking accessories.
I’ve never used marijuana but I want to try some on this trip.
Suppose a friend said to you, “I’ve never had alcohol before, but I want to try some right now.”
What advice would you give them?
Probably something along the lines of, “Have fun, be careful, take it slow, and never drive (or pedal) while intoxicated.”
Can I buy pot brownies?
There is a huge range of legal edibles for sale at the dispensaries that contain marijuana -- cookies, brownies, drinks, candies... Read the dosage information CAREFULLY and ask the store’s staff for advice.
Please be aware that it can easily take one hour (or longer) for edible marijuana to take effect. (So don't get impatient after 20 minutes, eat some more... then more... Leave your impersonation at home please).
Tricking an unsuspecting person into eating marijuana edibles is among the lowest forms of human behavior and will not be tolerated on this trip -- violators will be sent home immediately. NO REFUNDS.
Where can I smoke?
Aye, there’s the rub!
Under Colorado law you can not smoke in public.
Throughout the U.S. many hotels now have only no-smoking guest rooms. If you smoke ANYTHING in a no-smoking room you may get hit with a serious fee on your bill. Similar penalties for smoking in a non-smoking rental car.
There is an on-going debate about whether you can smoke on the balcony of your hotel room or on the hotel’s patio. Each hotel handles this differently.
SO... where to smoke?
The advice I received from several dispensary managers is that the local police have taken a low-key approach to enforcement, provided you are discreet and don’t act like a jerk. And it's always polite to keep marijuana smoke away from those who don't like it.
Remember that if you are smoking in public view you are, technically, breaking the law, just like drinking a beer in public. (So you may want to leave that 6' bong at home...)
Of course there are always edibles...
Can I pedal while I’m high? Can I smoke while I’m riding?
If we were cycling and stopped for lunch, would it be OK if you had a bottle of beer or a glass of wine?
Would it be OK if you got stinking drunk?
And there we are.
Basically, if you are so high or drunk that you are a problem, we will not hesitate to grab you by the ear (or any other appendage we can reach...) and yank you off the road immediately. NO REFUNDS.
Can I take some pot home with me as a souvenir? How about a marijuana cookie? Just a little?
As soon as you pass through the TSA inspection at the Denver airport (or drive across state lines) you are under the same laws as back home -- marijuana is illegal and you can go to jail.
This means that the poor Denver TSA agents have to deal with a lot of wacky people who decide to use up their leftover marijuana all at once before they head through the security checkpoint. (Or ask the young guys working in the Denver airport rental car return how much leftover weed they get donated to them every day.)
You can not take marijuana into the airport, on the plane, put it in your checked luggage, or mail it home, even if your destination is another state where marijuana is legal.
The Denver airport has even banned the sale of any marijuana-themed souvenirs or T-shirts.
If we are transporting your gear back home, our truck may be searched when we cross the state line. Think twice about hiding marijuana in your luggage or inside your bikes' frame... especially because an I.D. tag with your name on it is going to be attached!