Sean Beckwith: Letting Snowmass grow
If you work at a front desk long enough, someone is going to ask you where to find weed. Some may get requests more than others, especially those with semi-groomed beards and untamed curls like myself. I’m not saying I’m getting requests for uppers like I’m a valet driver in “Casino,” but I’ve had my share of middle-aged white guys ask me in hushed tones where to buy weed.
“Excuse me, I was wondering where I might score some weed.”
“You’re looking to ‘score’ some weed? This isn’t angel dust. You’re not Pooky. Calm down, Gary. Just Google ‘dispensaries.’”
And … that’s how I’d like to answer a lot of questions at the front desk. However, being in Snowmass, I can’t give them well-rehearsed directions as if it were the grocery store or Base Village. You have to explain a bus route, what Rubey Park is and recommend a shop or two in Aspen because Snowmass doesn’t allow pot shops.
It’s not a hassle for me because I live in Aspen and, when I lived in Snowmass, I had a guy. That’s not the case for a tourist marooned in Snowmass looking for a relaxing puff that’s not a two-hour round trip by bus.
I realize the splendid coincidence that is a guy who may smoke weed complaining about being forced to exert effort to attain pot because of the lazy stoner stereotype. I picture Jeff Sessions cackling at this piece in the same manner he does when he spots a black guy eating fried chicken or an unsuspecting child approaching his troll-toll bridge.
There’s more to it than convenience for pot heads. Not everyone who smokes weed is identifiable by tie-dye shirts and the smell of patchouli oil. I understand trying to maintain the “Pleasantville” facade that Snowmass is this utopian family resort. No other Aspen Skiing Co. mountain offers a place where you can drop off kids for ski school on the bunny hill and then catch world-class turns on The Wall.
That being said, have you been to apres at Venga Venga? There are more moms letting loose than a Tuesday night book club at Cheri’s house.
“I know you said you’re going to book club but, not only have you been on ‘The Largesse of the Sea Maiden’ for a month now, it’s covered in red wine stains.”
As weed moves out of the “Reefer Madness” cloud, it’s becoming more socially acceptable. Dads are walking around with vape pens and someone at Cheri’s book club is always holding.
The old guard will phase out and eventually town will have to evaluate if they need to make concessions in order to draw a younger crowd. Snowmass doesn’t have to turn into Snow-Vegas Village but some introspection is needed.
Does Base Village, which is already a ghost town after the apres crowd clears out, want to maximize the millions of dollars going toward development? It’s a legitimate question. If you say “Building 6” or “development,” sleepy citizens start chugging coffee and dialing friends on rotary phones.
That’s not a dig at the older crowd as much as it is identifying whose voice is more powerful at council meetings and work sessions. One of the largest groups of young people resides at Club Commons, an employee-housing complex that constantly rotates residents. It’s difficult to chime in on town politics when you’re more concerned with finding out which random roommate keeps drinking your milk.
Those people would probably love a dispensary in a place like the soon-to-be-redeveloped Snowmass Center, creating a Snowmass version of Aspen’s City Market/Grog Shop/Stash combo. If the compromise is keeping pot shops out of Base Village and the mall, that’s fine; let the little ones discover what weed is on the internet like they do with everything else.
The final argument for bringing Snowmass into 21st century Colorado is money. Town isn’t losing out on a few dozen $20 bags a week. It’s losing numerous foreign families who spend hundreds of dollars and walk out with tote bags; the resident who knocks out all three errands — food, booze, weed — in a trip, and the afternoon shopper who makes the trip for a joint and leaves after visiting a few other stores and having lunch. Snowmass prohibiting marijuana sales is akin to a restaurant forgoing alcohol sales.
I’m constantly bombarded with questions about shopping in Aspen from across my marble barrier and it seems silly to give people more incentive to leave Snowmass. My guess is 43-year-old Gary of Des Moines, Iowa, isn’t going to make the leap from Pax pen to nose candy with his kids in the other room. I can’t guarantee as much for the EDM bros in town for the X Games, but everyone knew they were going to be a pain as soon as they asked for four parking passes.
Those cranes towering over Base Village aren’t building a retirement home. People are going to smoke weed regardless of whether they get it in Aspen or Snowmass. The marketing board even gave the non-endorsement endorsement. It’s not like “The House of Trees” weed shop is going next to the Tree House. Help me help Gary and Cheri.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor for The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.