Marijuana tourists flock to Colorado lured by ‘green’ tours, legalized pot
Local businesses make a killing with a ‘tidal wave’ of drug vacationers to the Centennial State, where buying pot became legal Jan. 1, though not smoking it in public or carrying it across the border.
By Justin Rocket Silverman AND Jeanette Settembre / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Sunday, January 5, 2014, 12:38 AM
Updated: Sunday, January 5, 2014, 10:16 PM
They came from far and wide, drawn to Denver by the green glow of legal marijuana sales.
“It’s pretty surreal out here,” said Marisa Impellizzeri, a 27-year-old master’s student from Kentucky. “I brought my camera to record this historic moment.”
Impellizzeri’s purchase was not a speedy one, as she and the hundreds of other customers at pot shop Evergreen Apothecary were given numbers and told to return in two hours to make their purchases.
Cheyenne Fox, an employee and daughter of the owner of a Denver marijuana store, attaches radio frequency tracking tags to pot plants maturing inside a grow house. Local businesses are reaping the harvest as tourists flock to Colorado, where buying pot became legal Jan. 1.
In return for the wait, they were given limited edition certificates to prove they were among the first Americans to ever buy marijuana legally and without a prescription.
Since Colorado legalized recreational pot on Jan. 1, Evergreen has served ganja lovers from as far away as Australia and New Zealand, said co-owner Tim Cullen.
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Sam Walsh, a budtender, sets up marijuana products as the 3-D Denver Discrete Dispensary prepares to open for retail sales on Jan. 1 in Denver. Tour companies are offering visits to the pot growers.
Even the tourist information desk at Denver International Airport had a list of the nearly 20 places in the city to buy legal grass.
“I’m still amazed the federal government is letting this happen,” said Cullen. “I can’t wait until New York state goes legal. Colorado will be small-time compared to that.”
Two people have been cited for public consumption since Colorado became the nation’s first state where buying a joint is completely legal.
People wait in line to be among the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at the Botana Care store in Northglenn, Colo., on New Year’s Day.
The penalty for toking in public is the criminal equivalent of a parking ticket, with a top fine of $150.
Legal highs — and simple rules — are why Colorado is already becoming the first “pot tourism” mecca in the United States, the Alpine Amsterdam, if you will.
Marijuana is weighed at Evergreen Apothocary in Denver as recreactional marijuana sales became legal at dispensaries across Colorado on Jan. 1.
As such, tour companies are stoked to light up the drug vacationers.
“The demand for our service has been nearly overwhelming — there’s a tidal wave,” said Peter Johnson of Colorado Green Tours, whose magic bus ferries visitors on tours of three of the newly legal dispensaries for $399 — weed not included.
Marisa Impellizzeri, 27, of Kentucky, outside Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, where she waited to buy recreational marijuana.The graduate student in advertising and brand management was in Denver to visit friends.
An eighth of an ounce is running about $65.
Matt Brown owns another “green” tour company, My 420 Tours — which describes itself as “your best friend in Colorado.”
He said 4,000 people have already signed up for his ganja express, which will include visits with the pot growers, chefs who cook with wacky tobaccy and some of the dozens of shops in and around Denver where it’s now legal for anyone 21 or older to have a date with Mary Jane.
Customers stand in line after the opening of 3D Cannabis Center, a legal recreational retail outlet in Denver, on Wednesday morning.
“We want to show you that this is real and something you can go home and talk about with people,” said Brown.
But Brown and others have already run into one major sticking point — where to put all those would-be potheads. The entire city of Denver only has about 600 hotel rooms where smoking is allowed — and it’s unclear whether owners will add more.
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Sean Azzariti, an Iraq war veteran, prepares to make the first legal recreational marijuana purchase in Colorado from advocate Betty Aldworth at the 3-D Denver Discrete Dispensary on Wednesday in Denver.
“I haven’t really decided,” says Dan King, owner of The Boulder Outlook Hotel.
“It’s possible that we can designate rooms where marijuana is allowed if there’s enough demand.”