Long, strange trip: 420 in the Mile High City | AspenTimes.com

Long, strange trip: 420 in the Mile High City

Benjamin Welch
The Aspen Times
Some dude named Brian with a righteous beard loads a big 'ol joint on April 20 in Denver. Samsung Galaxy 7, no filter.
Benjamin Welch/The Aspen Times

Marijuana brings people together. The stoners with their video games and their Twitch streams. The elderly first-timers who are ready to spice up their lives without the oregano. The partiers who want to risk an ACL tear on the disco floor. The casuals who fall asleep on their couch with Cheetos spilled over them like Al from “Toy Story 2.” The gangsters who (insert racially appropriate joke here). The high schoolers who (insert age-appropriate joke here).

It was with this spirit that I found myself in a Denver marijuana lounge with a cohort of stereotypes on the highest holiday for weed enthusiasts: April 20, 4:20 p.m. A cacophony of coughing like I have never heard in the back of a Geo Metro resounded through the room that resembled my grandparents’ basement in 1969, plus Bob Marley flags and those bead curtains that were invented in the ’70s.

After about four years of legalization but lack of clarity on where smokers can partake, marijuana lounges are finally gaining traction in Denver. While it’s great that patrons now have a non-judgmental place to imbibe, I think it’s eventually going to be a tough sell to consumers unless they can also bring booze.

While marijuana is good for conversation, alcohol is the instigator of action. You can’t have a DJ at a weed lounge and expect people to dance. Pot heads aren’t going to overconsume in an effort to gather enough courage to leap onto the stripper pole.

The seating arrangements also have to be meticulous. People who are high AF don’t want to sit on bar stools, but they don’t want to flop on the ground atop camel-hair pillows like at a hookah lounge, either. It needs to be comfortable yet regal — you remember going to your grandmother’s house and there was a cushion on the toilet seat?

“I cannot believe this. I’m from Utah and smoke a couple of times a year, and all these people doing it together in a room blows my mind,” a tablemate said, as she laughed and tried to Google when her flight to Phoenix left Denver International Airport. The last time I saw her, she was scarfing M&Ms and frozen taquitos into her mouth.

An eight-tentacle dab bong was erected on the center table. A guy who looked like an oversized version of that caveman character from “Lost” ripped profusely until I thought he was going to cough himself inside out like Kriss Kross. A woman who appeared to be born in 1899 began blessing the four corners of the lounge and burning a whole flower of “Kryptonite Kush” like sage. Everybody was accidentally bumping into each other and apologizing profusely.

A hipsterly bearded man named Brian took an empty seat, depositing a giant carton of weed and a massive spliff on the table.

“Can I join?” he asked — rhetorically, I assumed.

“You may joint,” I responded, emphasizing the T. It either wasn’t funny or just nobody got the joke. I deal with that conundrum a lot, apparently even on days when everyone is supposed to be giggly by default.


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