Just because weed is legal in Colorado doesn’t mean you can spark up a blunt on the steps of a police station. Instead, you have to treat cannabis like liquor—and every six-pack needs a proverbial paper bag. In response to witnessing countless rookie mistakes, and we mean everything from smoking in public to hot boxing the hotel room, we’ve put together this guide specifically for smokers who are traveling to Colorado for the first time.
*This article is for information purposes only; we encourage you to research local regulations and do not encourage anyone to break the law.
- Planning a Colorado Weedcation can be exciting, but don’t overlook the important details. Research the area, check out 420-friendly lodging, avoid potent edibles (especially if it’s your first time!), and be sure to pack a portable smoking kit
- Always research local regulations before visiting a new place. This includes regulations on buying, using, and traveling with cannabis, even in areas where recreational use is legal
- It’s a myth that you get higher when smoking at high altitude. You’re not actually getting higher your body simply isn’t accustomed to the altitude, and as it’s adapting, you’re noticing symptoms of altitude sickness
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Six tips for planning your weedcation
One could say that we’re cultured in Colorado’s cannabis scene. We’ve been blazing in Colorado since long before Amendment 64 was even on the ballot, and we’ve watched the subsequent transformation that’s occurred since medical and recreational weed have become legalized.
We’ve noticed not only an increase in medical use but an influx of toking tourism: Fellow smokers from places like Texas, Utah, and Iowa flock to the herbal oasis that is Colorado like refugees fleeing a natural disaster.
But much like Augustus Gloop visiting the Wonka factory, many of these pot-seeking pilgrims overindulge, and end up—instead of drowning in a river of chocolate—comatose in hotel rooms, surrounded by half-eaten pizzas and virtually untouched bags of weed. That’s no way to enjoy Colorado’s sunshine.
Please—don’t be that guy. Instead, take a rolling paper out of our book, and follow our comprehensive guide to a great Colorado weedcation. We’ll cover everything you need to know to plan a stellar trip, like the best things to do in Denver, tips for 420-friendly camping, and some crucial tips for getting high at high altitudes. Start planning your weedcation with these five basic tips:
Research the Dispensaries
Just like you Yelp restaurants when you visit a new city, it’s worth researching dispensaries. We recommend using an app/site like WeedMaps or Leafly. Why? Well, different dispensaries have different growing protocols, which results in different calibers of product. Two dispensaries may have the exact same strain, but one may be markedly better because it was grown organically (as opposed to large-scale hydroponics).
Our favorite dispensaries supply organic, soil-grown cannabis—that rules out some of the bigger growers that couldn’t give a shit about flavor and quality, and instead focus on high-yield, high-THC crops.
Go for Variety
Just because you can legally buy an ounce (we know, it’s very exciting) doesn’t mean that you should. If you’re going to host a beer tasting, would you rather buy a keg or an assortment of six-packs? Part of the beauty of going to a dispensary is that you can pick and choose, mix and match.
Instead of buying an eighth, start with a gram each of an indica, sativa, and a hybrid. If you’ve been buying flower from “your guy” for your entire cannabis career, being able to talk to a professional budtender about things like flavor profile, THC vs. CBD content, and individual strain effects will be nothing short of mind-blowing.
The phrase “weed is weed” is an idiotic fallacy chirped by pot smokers in bud-barren tundras like Texas. More accurate a phrase would be “weed is like wine,” because every smoker could use the advice of a bona fide strain sommelier.
Our advice? Take your time at the dispensary, relish the process, and don’t overdo it at first—everything in moderation, including recreational pot. You can always go visit another dispensary down the line. In fact, we recommend it.
Book 420-friendly lodging
You can’t just smoke anywhere in Colorado. According to state laws, you must be 21 to buy, possess, or use, and you must consume in private. That said, the last thing you want on your trip is paranoia about where you consume.
Not every hotel allows patrons to smoke, so be sure to do your research before booking. Staying at a homeowner-rented AirBnB is an option, but you can also look into staying in a Bud & Breakfast, which allows tourists a novel opportunity: To smoke openly with like-minded travelers in a fun, easygoing setting.
Rent a Car – But Don’t Smoke & Drive
If you’re coming into Denver by air, renting a car really is the best way to get around Colorado. There’s so much beautiful scenery to explore, and you don’t want to be limited on where you can go by public transportation and timetables.
But whatever you do, don’t smoke & drive! Make sure you time your highs accordingly, or have a designated driver.
Here’s a great tool to find the best price on rental cars in Denver by comparing all the rental car companies against each other:
Vape it or smoke it – don’t eat it!
Rookie mistake number one: Diving straight into the edibles. With shelves upon shelves of tasty treats ranging from staples like brownies and cookies to more eccentric options like cannabis-infused sour gummies and buffalo chicken wings, it’s no wonder why traveling stoners have been tempted into over-consumption.
Edibles—aside from being delicious—make mismanaging dose size extremely easy, and they also last for a significantly longer duration (and with higher intensity).
We recommend you start with a joint, a bowl, or a vaporizer. And if you do decide to go with an edible, start by nibbling a fraction of the recommended dose and waiting 45 minutes to an hour (and be aware that it can take even longer to kick in). Most dispensaries place the standard edible dose at 10 mg of THC, but we know even some regular smokers who prefer half of that.
Use a Smoking Kit
Just because weed is legal in Colorado doesn’t mean that stigmas have evaporated. If you don’t want people sending you winks and grins because you’re swathed in the overwhelming stank of dank, then we recommend you invest in a high-quality smoking kit to keep all of your smoking supplies in one place for convenient use throughout your weedcation.
Hit the dispensaries, store your stash, and then take advantage of all that this beautiful state has to offer, from the ski slopes to the music scene.
Our favorite kit is the Sky High 11-Piece Stash Box which comes with everything you need including a Lock, Grinder, Airtight Jar, Pick, Storage Tube, Hemp Wick, Storage, and more.
If you’re looking for something a little more portable (you are traveling, after all), this Smell-Proof Bag Kit from Firedog should be perfect.
10 Cannabis Activities for Denver
Denver is a weed-lover’s paradise, and no Colorado weedcation would be complete without a visit to the state’s great capital. Not only is there a dispensary on every corner, but there’s a concert every night, a delicious restaurant on every block, and an outdoor activity to enjoy at every turn.
To bring all of these activities to light, we put together a list of our favorite things to do while high in The Mile High City. Whether you’re a Denver local or just visiting for a quick weedcation, here are 10 awesome activities to make the most of your next smoke session.
Visit the Butterfly Garden
It sounds silly, but have you ever hung out with thousands of butterflies while high? No? Well, don’t knock it ’til you try it!
A veritable zoo of invertebrates, the Butterfly Pavilion is located 15 minutes north of Denver in Westminster. It’s a favorite haunt for local kids (and also the stoned adult or two). Vaping some sativa and learning about invertebrates? Sounds like a perfect afternoon to us.
Go for a Hike (or Bike) on Dinosaur Ridge
Dinosaur Ridge is about a 20-minute drive west of Denver. You can go for the short scenic hike and check out the dinosaur fossils or, if you’re feeling a bit more extreme, you can go for a mountain bike ride in the surrounding area, linking Dakota Ridge and Red Rocks loop from the Zorro trail.
Be wary: This bike ride is not for beginner or intermediate riders, it’s technical and difficult. If you’re more of a mellow cruiser, pedal down the paved/gravel Cherry Creek Trail in Denver or try your hand at mountain biking on the beginner-friendly Green Mountain Trails.
Hit the Food Trucks
Denver’s food scene is already excellent—and it’s getting better every year. Our favorite way to sample the best Denver has to offer is Civic Center Eats, an event on Tuesdays-Thursdays, May-October, where food trucks flock to one of Denver’s most pristine urban parks for a farmer’s market-style confluence of culinary mastery.
Walk through rows of food trucks—ranging from classic barbecue to Latin-Asian fusion—and have a memorable and tasty lunch outside in the sun.
Check out GoTruckster for a list of more food trucks in Denver.
Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art
Denver has some truly amazing museums, ranging from the interactive Museum of Natural Science to the high-brow Clyfford Still Museum. One of our favorites The Museum of Contemporary Art, which has exhibitions showcasing everything from Basquiat to little-known graffiti writers.
After a smoke break, the architecture alone will blow your mind. Plus, it has an awesome location, with excellent restaurants and gorgeous parks nearby.
Walk the 16th Street Mall
The 16th Street Mall has some of the best people watching in the world, as the entirety of Denver’s vast cast of characters, from wealthy shoppers and bedraggled-yet-talented street performers, prowl the promenade. If you’re looking to catch a movie, grab a bite, or hit the town, it’s all at your fingertips on the 16th Street Mall.
Skyline Park: Free Putt Putt & Ping Pong
Free ice-skating, putt-putt, and ping-pong? Sounds good to us! Depending on the season, Skyline Park always has an activity or two that’s sure to please locals and visitors, alike. We’d recommend this as a day-time activity.
Explore the Parks
Denver has green space that many a metropolitan visitor will salivate over. Our three favorite parks are Washington Park, a skinny strip of green with a two lakes, a three-mile paved running/biking loop, and endless volleyball tournaments in the warmer months; City Park, an enormous park replete with paths, playgrounds, soccer fields, and more; and Civic Center Park, a more urban park at the foot of the State Capitol.
Rent a Pedal Hopper
Renting a Pedal Hopper in Denver is a sure way to have a great time, especially if you’ve got a big crew. Why take an Uber when you can simultaneously get a bit of exercise and enjoy a multi-person “party bike”?
Explore the Free Art Galleries
From about 6th to 11th on Santa Fe is one of our favorite sections of Denver—namely because there are a ton of tiny art galleries (not to mention excellent places to grab a bite or a beer).
Be sure to check out the First Friday Art Walk, where every month Denver’s artists and art lovers stroll the sidewalks, visit the plethora of art galleries, and nosh at the food trucks that set up for the occasion.
Plop Down on a Rooftop Patio
Anywhere you go in Denver, from South Broadway to RiNo, rooftop patios are within reach. There’s nothing like hanging with friends, having a beer, and grabbing a bite three-stories high, all while watching the sun set over the Front Range of the Rockies to the west.
Five Tips for Smoking at Altitude
Colorado is famous for both its potent pot and its high elevation. But does smoking weed at altitude actually get you higher? It’s a question on the lips of every traveling stoner preparing to make a pilgrimage to this high-elevation land of milk and honey, and something you definitely should know before your Colorado weedcation carries you into the High Country mountains.
Alcohol and Altitude: Fact or Fiction?
First off, let’s start with using alcohol as an example, as living in Colorado it’s incredibly common to hear people say, “Don’t drink as much as you would at sea level—a beer in Denver is like two beers in San Francisco.” The sentiment is valid, but the science is suspect.
Most people think that alcohol gets you drunker at altitude—but that’s actually a myth. Instead, extremely intoxicated visitors are experiencing a combination of drunkenness and altitude sickness. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) isn’t actually increasing simply because you’re having a few beers at altitude—instead, the effects of altitude (dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, etc.) are combining with the effects of the booze to make you feel drunker than you actually are—and not necessarily in a good way.
In other words, it’s not the pot. Smoking weed at altitude doesn’t actually get you higher—but the effects of altitude can combine with the effects of cannabis to make you feel higher (also, not necessarily in a good way). It’s not just Colorado’s high-grade that has you lightheaded, it’s the fact that you’re not acclimatized to life a mile above sea level.
To make the most of your Colorado weedcation, we recommend a simple, proactive regimen to combat altitude sickness before you arrive, and then a few simple tips to make smoking in Denver or any altitude a sweet experience.
1. Chug water
This simple step is the single most important one. Chugging water is always a good idea, and making sure you’re overly hydrated before you touch down in Colorado is an excellent move. Hydrated travelers will have an easier time acclimating, and they’ll have less issues with headaches, lightheadedness, and other symptoms of altitude sickness.
Better to have to empty the bladder frequently than having to tap out because you can’t hang anymore, right? You can also try drinks like Acli-Mate to make the transition easier.
2. Get Some Rest
Exhaustion can be a catalyst for altitude sickness—it’s best to get a good night’s sleep and have a relaxing day before you head to Colorado. Also, be cognizant of the fact that a late night out on the town might not be the best move the moment you land.
3. Stay active
You want to be active (but not too active) upon your arrival. At altitude, the air is thinner, and your body is working overtime to get the oxygen it needs. Moderately increasing your heart rate will help your body speed up the acclimatization process faster than simply resting. That said, if you’re going for a hike or heading to the ski hill, you shouldn’t go all out straight off the plane.
4. Don’t get high, get well
The combination of incredibly potent marijuana and high altitudes can definitely take a toll—especially on an occasional smoker from sea level. One way to casually enjoy cannabis legality in a place like Colorado is to take advantage of weed’s medicinal benefits instead of simply smoking until you can’t stand up.
We recommend smoking a CBD-heavy strain like Lifter, or vaping a CBD concentrate after a day of hiking or skiing; your mind won’t be overwhelmed by the mellow psychoactive properties of CBD, but your ultra-relaxed muscles will thank you.
5. Try Strains that Aid Sleep
Another tip for those smoking at altitude? That would be to purchase a mellow indica for use as a natural sleep aid. While sativa will keep your mind racing and may make it difficult to fall asleep, we prefer the sleepy body high of an indica to an Ambien any night of the week.
Five Tips for 420-Friendly Camping in Colorado
There are few things more enjoyable than pitching a tent and spending a night in the great outdoors, and no trip to Colorado is complete without a deep-in-nature adventure. Many people might consider including cannabis in their next camping trip – besides all of the medical benefits, smoking in nature is wonderful!
If you do intend to bring your stash, we recommend managing those supplies in a smell-proof case to keep the process discreet and easy on the go.
Our favorite case is the Sky High 11-Piece Stash Box which comes with everything you need: a Lock, Grinder, Airtight Jar, Pick, Storage Tube, Hemp Wick, Storage, and more.
If you’re looking for something a little more portable and discreet, this Smell-Proof Bag Kit from Firedog should do the trick.
Here are five tips for bringing your stash into the great outdoors and planning a camping trip with weed.
1. Know the area
Do you know if your campsite is in a state or national park? You’ll want to make sure that your camping area will not cause any legal problems for you. Most states mandate that cannabis use only be allowed on private property and soon-to-be designated public areas.
There are multiple, private 420-friendly campgrounds in Colorado like Wilderness Bud and Breakfast that allow cannabis consumption, so be sure to check local and federal laws and comply accordingly.
2. Pack a Variety of Smoking Supplies
Have you ever tried to roll a joint in extremely high wind? Or load a vape pen while driving down a bumpy road? It’s important to recognize that every environment is different and some consumption methods will be easier than others in the outdoors. For example, we love rolling joints inside out, but we will often roll them the traditional way when outdoors because the increased amount of paper stays lit better in the wind. For this very reason, we almost always pack a one hitter because it’s the easiest way to get a quick hit.
3. Vary the Strain Selection
When enjoying cannabis outdoors, different strains can serve different purposes. For example, a sativa is going to be great in the morning and during lunchtime to give you the energy and focus to finish that hike or tidy the campsite. In the evening on the other hand, an indica around the campfire will calm everyone down and allow sleep to come a little easier in your tent.
Cannabis enthusiasts and outdoor experts can certainly agree that the addition of CBD can be a phenomenal tool in any camping stash kit. CBD will help you ease sore muscles and give you that relief you crave after a long day on the trail.
4. Bring enough to share
When you ignite some quality weed you can expect your friends who don’t normally partake to consider a hit as the smoke wafts across the campsite. We love friends that have no problem carrying a dab rig to 12,000 feet—better believe some people are more than willing to carry their smoking supplies the distance!
5. Hotbox the tent
Regardless of whether it’s a nightcap or a sunrise wake and bake, we highly recommend enjoying the opportunity to hotbox your tent. Most tents utilize a mesh ventilation system so it won’t be a true hotbox, but the experience of laying in your sleeping bag as the smoke floats to the stars or the rising sun is a moment not to be missed.
Should You Consider a Med Card?
The legalization of cannabis into two tiers, “medical” and “recreational” use, has caused a lot of confusion among consumers. Why must there be a specific distinction and what if we use cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes?
If your weedcation to Colorado piques your interest in the medicinal benefits of cannabis you may be wondering if you should get a medical marijuana card for yourself.
What are the Benefits of a Medical Marijuana Card?
While nobody knows your body better than you, a medical card is a handy tool for those who reap the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and especially for those who buy and carry it frequently. In fact, there are quite a few benefits to getting a Colorado medical marijuana card:
- Lower Prices: Many medical stores create special price breaks for medical patients because they recognize that you are making a purchase for your health. You can expect prices on the medical side to be anywhere from five to 30-percent lower than the retail counterpart.
- More Medical Specific Products (CBD): Looking for true medicine without the high? Use Leafly or Weedmaps to find the dispensaries in town who have high-CBD strains in stock. You’ll get the most value and relief with the correct mix of cannabinoids. There are also certain products like Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) that are easier to locate and obtain on the medical side.
- Reduced Taxes on Purchases: The government recognizes your purchase as health-related as well, so you’ll enjoy lower sales tax rates on your purchases! The tax obligations are significantly lower for medical patients. In Colorado, medical patients are only assessed the normal state sales tax fee of 2.9 percent, whereas recreational patients pay an additional 10-percent marijuana tax.
- Increased Plant Count Potential: Are you interested in growing your own plants and cultivating a quantity that would be sufficient for making edibles or concentrates? With approval from your physician, you can receive an increased plant count above the state-mandated six in order to produce enough material to meet your needs. Increased plant counts are generally also accompanied by increased carry limits. The state allows approved medical users to carry more than the one-ounce recreational limit.
Qualifying Conditions for a Medical Card
In order for a doctor to write you a recommendation to get a medical card, you’ll have to have a qualifying condition. Luckily, Colorado has a wide range of conditions that qualify for medical marijuana use including:
- Severe/Chronic Pain
- Severe Nausea
- Persistent Muscle Spasms
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- Reflux Disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis
Non-Qualifying Conditions include:
- Bipolar Disease
- Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Severe Anxiety
- Clinical Depression
- Opioid Dependence
- Tourette’s Syndrome
How to get a Medical Marijuana Card in Colorado
If you’ve decided a Colorado medical marijuana card could be useful for you, you’ll need to follow the registration process and pay the required fees to receive your card. This process is easy and can be completed in four steps:
1. Go Online and Register With the State
This is quick and easy, it takes five minutes. Just plug in your information and press send. This will make your physician appointment much faster! Although you are registering with the state, your personal information will not be made public–it is treated with the same level of sensitivity as any other medical records subject to HIPPA.
2. Make an Appointment with Your Local Red Card Physician
There are plenty of MMJ physicians in town, we recommend Cohen Medical Centers as they are polite, compassionate and take appointments. It is important to make sure that you select a physician that is on good terms with the state to ensure that your application is accepted.
3. Explain Your Ailments and General Usage
Be honest during your appointment and explain how you’ve found cannabis to help you medically. They will ask about your qualifying conditions, preferred consumption methods, and frequency & amount of consumption. Be straightforward! Remember the doctor is acting in your best interest, their sole job is to evaluate whether cannabis would be a viable treatment solution and make a recommendation to the state.
4. Complete the process online and print your med card
Your doctor will upload the physician’s report to your online file, and you can complete the process at home. That’s it, you’re ready to start saving money and accessing better cannabis!