Reconnoitering the Local Marijuana Emporium
I just returned to Colorado after working in Montana for the last twenty years. It didn’t take me long to figure a lot has changed since I left back in the 90s. There are a lot more people here than before. A guy by the name of Manning replaced a guy by the name of Elway at quarterback for the Broncos. Politics have gone from red to blue. And, oh yeah, Marijuana is now legal in the Centennial State.
Of course, I knew this before I moved. Hell, if I had a buck for every clown back in Montana who asked me to mail them a “care package” when I got here, I could probably afford a gram or two. And yes, you heard me right…they sell that shit by the gram, just like they sold coke in the 70s. Whatever happened to a good old fashion lid of Columbian, Acapulco Gold, or even a cheap bag of Mexican or Nebraska No-High?
All that stuff has been replaced by genetically engineered, hydrophonically grown, high octane strains of Cannabis with names like Buddha’s Sister, Moonshine Haze, and Island Sweet Skunk. Shit, the stuff doesn’t even have seeds…Now, that’s fuckin’ un-American; weed with no seeds. (Note to myself: can I get a nice, juicy watermelon without all those goddamned seeds? Check Safeway.)
You can chalk these observations up to a misspent youth. I gave up booze and other intoxicants decades ago when I realized I just didn’t have enough brain cells to imbibe and make it through a doctoral program in biology at a big state university. Not to mention screwing up all my relationships.
Yet, I remain curious to see how they’re managing a new enterprise that was once secret and illegal. So, I decided to take a visit to one of the many local emporiums presently popping up along the Front Range like Morels in the high county after a summer rain.
The Colorado stores are marked by a BIG green cross. Some only cater to those with medical cards, which reminds of the great W. C. Fields commenting on his drinking, “For medicinal purposes, only.” (Insert your own crummy W. C. imitation.) These folks avoid substantial taxes. I know a guy who saw this old-school, old-fart MD to get his card. The doctor rolled his eyes when my pal described his “symptoms” like he was full of shit. But the cranky sawbones still signed the card.
On the other hand, many stores sell to recreational users. So I went to one of those places. When I entered the establishment, A huge man dressed in black checked my driver’s license and told me to take a seat. One side of the joint was for card-holders, the other for miscreants with no excuse but the need for a good buzz. After a few minutes, they escorted me into the shop, a narrow, rectangular room with a long glass counter storing paraphernalia, edible treats and other sundries. An old guy I took to be the manager came up to me, grinning like a possum eating bumblebees.
You know how a lot of folks who run bakeries look like they’re eating all their profits? Well, this guy appeared to be smoking all of his. He looked every day of 65 or 70, long grey hair in a tight ponytail and his eyes resembled two piss holes in the snow.
“Hey, man, I’m Frank. I’ll be your budtender today.”
Frank ignored my snicker. Peering through John Lennon-esque wire framed glasses, he asked, “What kind of high are you looking for?”
“I don’t know…what’s good?”
“Well, right now, I’m kinda into Sativa.”
“Check it out.” Frank hoisted a gallon-sized glass jar that stores once used for selling cookies and jaw breakers. Only this one was full of golf ball-sized buds. He opened the lid, releasing that unmistakable pungent odor. With my hay fever, I fought a sneeze.
“Pretty good shit?” I asked.
“It’ll blow your hat in the creek.”
“Real good about an hour before a barbeque,” Frank said.
“Make yah bite the bark off a tree, that’s for certain.”
This old pothead reminded me of a fucked-up Will Rodgers with all his folksy b.s. I couldn’t help but think my 18 year old son would kill to be 21 and have the run of this place. I also couldn’t help looking over my shoulder, even though I didn’t know a soul in town. Although this was all legal, it still felt naughty to be there. A second later, Frank left me to look around while he helped another customer. I slipped outside, curiosity satisfied.
They may be slowly decriminalizing weed, but I think they’ve taken a lot of the fun out of it, making it legal and all. When we were kids, half the fun was not getting caught…whether the crime was drinking, smoking or fooling around. I guess the state is making a shitload of money off the taxes. Be interesting to see how a Republican administration in the White House would feel about ignoring federal law.
I’m no politician, thank god, and I’m no consumer, but I am a parent…and a hypocrite. “Don’t do what I did, learn from my mistakes.” Change is bad and change is good. Sometimes it just takes a while to find out what the real results are.
Colorado is now looking into rasinos; a combination racing track and casino. Here we go again…
Jim Satterfield is the award winning author of The River’s Song and Saving Laura. Go to www.jimsatterfield.com to learn more about his writing.