That Time I … visited a marijuana dispensary

Over spring break, I had the pleasure of traveling to Colorado. The state’s landscape was captivating and the temperature was too cold for a typical Floridian like me. Yet, the real excitement stemmed from Colorado’s reputation as the “high” state for cannabis.

In Colorado, the only people who are allowed to purchase marijuana must be over the age of 21 or be legal medical recipients. As a Floridian coming from a place where dispensaries do not exist yet, I was curious and decided to visit one named Native Roots Dispensary.

As soon as I stepped inside the Littleton Native Roots Dispensary location, the clerks called out to me requesting my ID faster than I could say ‘Hello.’ I soon learned that the franchises, and other dispensaries in Colorado, highly enforced the age limit; as they should.

As I had recently turned 21, I did not yet change my vertical-oriented driver’s license to a horizontal-oriented one, which would have easily symbolized my “legitness.” The clerk scrutinized my ID, but since I was from a different state they allowed me shop even with my vertical-facing ID.

Once I was buzzed into the section where the actual products were held, past the lobby area, I found myself in a Forever 21-styled, marijuana-themed store that had different sections for different products. A budtender — an expert in marijuana — probably realized that I was new to the whole experience and ushered me over to him to provide some explanations, guidance and suggestions.

He provided an extensive amount of information about the marijuana plant and the products which were available for sale, including beverages and foods like hot chocolate, coffee, muffins, cupcakes and lollipops. If you can name it, it was probably there.

The budtenders taught me a lot about tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the chemical compound that gives marijuana its stimulatory effects. They told me about the products that had varying levels of THC percentages, taught me about the different types of marijuana as well as the side effects that might come along with them.

I also learned more about the purchasing and legal rules about using marijuana in Colorado. For example, in addition to having to be 21, marijuana has a 25 percent sales tax compared to the 8 percent medical tax. Though it was legal to possess cannabis, consumers were not allowed to smoke in public and  could only have one ounce — at most — in their possession. Also, products bought in Colorado had to stay in the state after purchase.

Thankfully, they were used to newbies asking a billion questions, and I had many. In the end I didn’t buy anything because I found that the prices were just a little too high.

This experience left me with an appreciation for the plant, as well as knowledge of how the state has been successful with its restrictions and safety rules. I would challenge people to educate themselves and learn about the usage of the plant and its components. Native Roots Dispensary was a delightful, clean place with funny names for their marijuana varieties and edibles; if you ever find yourself in one of their stores, ask about their Golden Goat. Now, at the very least, even if I never smoke again, I can scratch ‘went to a dispensary’ off my bucket list.

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