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Mountain Manners: Marijuana

The legal recreational marijuana industry is arguably the biggest thing to happen in Colorado this decade. While only a small minority of visitors to Colorado and our valley say that weed is the primary motivator for their trip, a large segment of people still choose to visit dispensaries as a stop on their trip.

In the Gunnison Valley alone we have upwards of twelve dispensaries. This number might come down as competition weeds out the lesser shops, but for the time-being there is a lot of choice about where you purchase your buds. If you haven’t indulged in marijuana in a few years you might be surprised by the amount of choice in pot products, and by the levels of potency that are found in what you buy. If you’re visiting the valley and want to try pot, here are some ways to keep it safe and actually enjoy your high.

What can I buy and what if I buy too much?

In Colorado you can purchase up to a ¼ ounce at a time if you have an out-of-state license. That’s a lot of pot for one purchase. That’s about as much pot as someone who smokes every day will go through in a month. If you find that you’ve purchased too much weed the proper thing to do is dispose of it properly in an amnesty box.

These boxes are found at the Marshal’s office in the Town of Crested Butte and at the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport. Do not throw leftover weed or edibles in the trash and don’t leave them as a tip for your housekeeper no matter how nice you’re feeling.

Follow the Rules

Pot, much like alcohol has some rules that go with consumption. These rules are readily found all over the internet, but it’s still worth laying them out.

  1. Don’t drive high: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but it gets tricky with edibles which can take up to two hours to kick in. You might think you’re fine, get behind the wheel, and the next thing you know you’re driving like a grandmother and freaking out about that time in 5th grade when you said something really stupid. No fun, really scary, and super illegal.
  2. Don’t smoke in public: You can’t walk around with a beer, and can’t walk around with a joint. All marijuana consumption has to take place in a private area. Unfortunately this does not mean the dispensary. They can get in heaps of trouble if it’s discovered that you ate edibles in their lobby or smoked right outside.
  3. No possession on federal land: Even though you’re in Colorado the National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service lands are all federal lands. Pot is still illegal at the national level and you can get in deep trouble if you get caught with it. Probably the most common place for this to happen is the ski resort which lies primarily on Forest Service land and is patrolled by rangers.
  4. You have to be 21 or older: Every time you enter a dispensary you will be carded period. Even your friend that just wants to sit on the couch in the lobby will be forced to provide identification. On top of that every dispensary uses a ID scanner to verify that the ID is valid and not forged.

Where to Smoke

So you can’t smoke in public, and you can’t smoke on your hike on federal land, so where can you smoke when you visit the Gunnison Valley? The answer to this varies. Many people circumvent the smoking part by purchasing edibles. These are great, but if you’re not used to eating them, or if you get impatient and eat too many, you’ll have a bad time. If you plan on smoking while you’re here talk to the property where you’ll be staying at and see what they have to say. Short-term rentals like Airbnb and VRBO tend to be a little more lenient because you aren’t sharing the space with other people, but the property owner has the right to tell you that you can’t smoke anywhere on the property.

In the past couple years several hostels and hotels have taken it upon themselves to offer smoking facilities in order to cater to visiting marijuana users. Currently the only lodging property in the valley that offers a service like this is The Inn at Tomichi Village in Gunnison. Their 420 Friendly package is available to anyone over 21. It includes your room, a vaporizer (like a pipe, but you only heat the weed to a temperature where the THC vaporizes and the weed doesn’t burn), and access to their smoking lounge where you can smoke a joint or a bowl. They also offer shuttle services to and from the property and dispensaries for an additional fee.

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