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Monday, September 8, 2014

When Stoners Congregate - by Citizen Jay




     On any given day in any given city you can find tokers together doing their thing.  Cannabis has many benefits; one of these is the power to bring people together.  Where cannabis is forbidden, those who enjoy its benefits do so clandestinely—in the shadows.  But they still do it together.  Friends listening to music on a sunny afternoon.  Brothers fishing together on the creek.  Patients meet to discuss their ailments and treatments.  It’s a natural thing.


     Here in Colorado, stoners have been congregating like everywhere else.  Only in this state it is LEGAL to do so—well kind of anyway.  You see, in Denver, the community has been trying to establish safe, fun places for stoners to go to have a good time together.  But despite its legality, this has been an uphill battle.  Because in Denver, the city council has voted to ban public smoking establishments.  There is literally no place to go in Denver to toke up.  You are not allowed to consume cannabis in public—and according to city officials that means just about any place other than your own home.  

     Unless you happen to know of a private club or event.  But even here the waters are murky.  Because according to the city, an event isn’t considered “private” if it has been advertised on Facebook or any other social or print media.  And if there’s an admission fee forget about it.  Not private according to the city.  These same standards don’t apply to alcohol related events.  It’s a double standard that has to be pointed out.  Especially when you consider the amount of deaths attributed to alcohol every year versus cannabis.   And when you consider that Amendment 64 was touted as a “treat cannabis like alcohol” law.  Well, regardless of how flawed the analogy between cannabis and alcohol is, it’s the best fit we have right now.  But our elected and appointed officials are not keeping to their word—they are not treating cannabis like alcohol at all.  But I digress…

      Where there is a strong medical cannabis community, like here in Colorado, those who participate will naturally congregate.  In the last decade that medical cannabis has been available in Colorado there have been few places to go to meet with other patients.  This is mainly due to the small size of the medical cannabis community across the state, which has hovered around 100,000 people or so.  Before January of this year, medical patients on the Front Range were able to meet on a monthly basis at sponsored MMJ Meet and Greets that were held successfully for close to five years.  In January, the city decided that the MMJ Meet and Greets were “public events” and therefore forbidden.  This is despite the fact that you had to have a medical card to get in.  Many in the community were upset by this.  The Meet and Greets were a great place to meet new people, find out about new dispensaries, and even sample the meds from those.  Since the city declared them “public,” they have ceased all together.

     With the advent of adult 21+ sales, that market potential has jumped to an estimated 3,000,000 strong.  A HUGE difference in consumer rates.  When you take into account those coming from prohibition states the problem of where to go becomes more pronounced.  

     There is still an enormous fear factor involved when it comes to making cannabis policy.  This comes from literally decades and generations of fear mongering propaganda that has most people the world over believing that cannabis is harmful.  Despite the fact that cannabis is NONTOXIC most still call it a “poison” and treat it as such.  This has led to mass hysteria where cannabis is concerned.  And this is the core of our fight.  To change the hearts and minds of people towards cannabis and those who find its use preferable.  One of the ways we can do that is to show people by example what happens when cannabis users get together.  

     While Denver is still battling with itself over where people can partake a couple of its neighbors are moving forward with more progressive attitudes.  In the areas surrounding Denver—in those other incorporated communities—places are popping up that allow the cannabis community to congregate.  Most notably, unincorporated Adams County has taken advantage of Denver’s hesitancy.  The High Times Cannabis Cup likewise took advantage of this last March holding the event in the Denver Merchandise Mart, which despite its name actually resides just over the Denver County line in Adams County.  Event of this scale have the ability to bring lots of revenue to town.  Adams County is savvy.

     But on a smaller scale, large events aside, businesses catering to the needs of stoners have the ability to generate a lot of revenue too simply because there a lot of people who’d want to use them—just like bars and other night clubs.  How many bars did you pass on your way to work this morning?  I pass 5 all on the same block.  There is plenty of room for this type of business.  We need more of them.

     Right now I know of only a handful businesses or places one can go in the Metro area to partake with other likeminded cannabis consumers.  In the last few months a couple have come and gone.  Those that have gone have been mostly in Denver; shut down by the police on orders of the city council for public consumption of cannabis.  A cop at one such recent shut down actually stated that the only place in Denver to consume cannabis legally was in your own home.  

     iBake Denver is also in Adams County.  It’s right around the corner from the Denver Merchandise Mart.  This pipe and tobacco shop hosts a small intimate space where people can come in and smoke what they’ve got.  Because it’s a tobacco shop, they allow cigarette smoking inside.  It can get pretty heady in there.  People come here from all over the world.  Having heard about it on the internet, it’s frequently the first stop people make when coming to town.  While you can’t buy cannabis at this establishment, you can certainly consume it there.  If you show up without your own you can likely find a “friend” to toke you out.  iBake is one of the oldest membership-only clubs in the metro area.  It’s also the home of iBakeRadio.com, which can be found on iHeartRadio.  When stoners congregate the good word gets out.

     In Wheatridge, an auxiliary community to the north and slightly west of Denver, Three Kings Dab Supply is the place to meet your fellow stoners.  This enterprise has developed a two-tiered business approach. In the front, they are a head shop selling some of the best Colorado made glass anywhere.  In the back they are a private cannabis club where memberships can be purchased for the day, week, month, or even a year.  Membership allows you to go to the back of the shop and outside to smoke and dab with friends.  Recently, the club has invited a group of glass blowers to set up for demonstrations and even lessons.  When stoners congregate creativity abounds.

     Recently, the City of Aurora has voted to allow retail cannabis sales.  The 710 Hat Pin Social Club has become a place for the cannabis community to come together.  On a weekly basis, the club hosts a small competition between hash makers.  It’s becoming more popular and is known as Top Shelf Thursdays because it is partially sponsored by Danielle DeSailles of Top Shelf Extracts fame.  The event boasts a pot luck dinner and      

     DJ to boot.  This last weekend, the club hosted a memorial for Jenny Kush, an advocate that was taken from our community by a drunk driver last Memorial Day.  When stoners congregate awareness is risen and people are safer.
As our industry and community flourish the need for additional places like these becomes increasingly evident.  We need more of them to accommodate the market.  We need a variety of them to accommodate our diverse communities.

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