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I walked through clouds of marijuana smoke Friday night to get to the Denver Nuggets basketball game. The sweet smell lingering in the air reminded me less of a family event and more of the time I saw AC/DC on “The Razor’s Edge” tour at the old McNichols Sports Arena. I grew up in Colorado, but it’s been a while since I lived in the state.
When I returned for a recent conference, I found that a place settled by the Gold Rush is now mad about reefer. In 2012, Colorado voters became the first in the nation to approve recreational pot use. The good times rolled out Jan. 1, when stores started selling it.
I’ve never tried pot, but I graduated from the University of Colorado — Boulder, which is famous for its annual “4/20” public pot parties. At CU, you can practically get a contact high walking to class.
But I saw more public pot use in my two-day visit to Lower Downtown Denver than in years spent at Boulder. It’s supposed to be illegal to smoke or consume pot in public.
But then the day after the game, while jogging down the Speer Boulevard bike path, I passed a guy lounging under a tree lavishing his affections on a joint.
Anyone over 21 can walk into a dispensary and load up on bud, marijuana baked goods and candy. The presence of legal pot right outside our hotel made people giddy at the conference I attended — a meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
At a reception, one woman passed a friend gummy bears infused with THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot. And then there was a friend of mine at the conference — I’ll call him “Dude” because he shared his story on condition I didn’t name him. He had a bad reaction after eating too many marijuana gummy bears.
When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana sales, Denver embraced the opportunity with open arms.
The city is now home to more than 62 percent of all Colorado recreational marijuana retailers, who cashed in on $14 million in sales in January alone.
Other cities weren’t so eager: heeding legalization opponents’ safety concerns, several pushed off licensing retail sales. Some banned retail sales altogether.
"There will be many harmful consequences," Douglas County Sheriff David Weaver warned in a September 2012 statement. "Expect more crime, more kids using marijuana, and pot for sale everywhere."
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper warns against running out and firing up them spliffs before officials sort out the whole weed-still-being-a-drug thing.
Pot-use in America is rising sharply, and voters may make it fully legal in two states this fall…Tony Dokoupil meets two weed-entrepreneurs banking on that happening…plus Shehrbano Taseer whose own father was killed by the Taliban takes an insider’s look at 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai and how she may finally help turn the tide on extremism in Pakistan…and our annual green rankings reveal the planet’s biggest protectors - and polluters. Get the issue on iPad now http://bit.ly/TjJF2y or at newsstand tomorrow!
Update: This is weird, since we posted this link on Monday and it just appeared. Hm. Carry on.
In honor of 4/20, our gallery of Pot Propoganda