Now I’m not suggesting this as an apres-ski option (although some will I’m sure) – but as a postscript to my late ski season Rockies road trip there’s a remarkable standout feature of the Colorado towns and villages I visited.

Rob's article on Grass skiing

The dispensary at Tabernash, near Winter Park, Colorado

They nearly all seem to have a dispensary. Many have two. And by dispensary I mean an emporium dispensing recreational and medicinal cannabis…weed, pot, grass, marijuana (or Mary Jane) in many and diverse forms.

I knew Colorado was one of ten states where cannabis has been legal to buy in small quantities for customers aged 21 and over for some years – in Colorado it was approved by a referendum actually, in 2012. 

Each Colorado community has decided individually whether or not to take advantage of the law, Amendment 64. But the state certainly has no shortage of recreational marijuana dispensaries, with nearly 510 licences issued as of last year.

Purely in the interests of research you understand, we investigated one such outlet in Tabernash, a township near the ski resort of Winter Park.

The receptionist at the Igadi dispensary was friendly and efficient and there were a number of formalities to complete, including producing photographic evidence of age, in our case passports. Then we were allowed to proceed through the magic door to the cannabis store proper.

The range of products on offer was astonishing – ready-rolled joints, cannabis capsules, cannabis flowers and wax (usually smoked in a vaporiser) and of course a wide selection of delicious-looking edible products including chocolate chip cookies, fruit gums, granola and chocolate. All of course with a generous portion of cannabis in the recipe.

Rob Freeman Mad Dog Ski Feature

Just browsing thanks: Wide range of cannabis products at the Tabernash dispensary

From the retail area is a picture window into the store’s own bakery where the edibles are produced. ‘Take and bake’ chocolate chip cookie dough is available to buy and pop in the oven when you get home – ‘bake the cookies fresh at home and eat them while they are still warm – great for friends to bake and enjoy together for any occasion’.

There is another picture window into a vast indoor forest of cannabis plants –  ‘the largest observable marijuana grow in the world’.

Rob Freeman feature

New crop: Marijuana under cultivation at the dispensary in Tabernash

 

Staff member TJ was pleased to show us the impressive extent of the store’s offerings. There are daily deals – ‘Munchie Monday’ has 25 per cent off Igadi edibles. Or on ‘Stock Up Sunday’ there’s the same discount off edibles and concentrates.

The customers included a steady stream of the more elderly, who headed straight for the medical counter. Those with a medical certificate buy their supplies free of tax.

With most dispensaries it’s cash only. Credit card companies are wary of falling foul of federal law, which still treats sale of cannabis as illegal. So dispensaries have an ATM on-site!  An eighth of an ounce of ‘bud’, the term for smokeable leaf, is about 40 to 60 dollars. But that is in fact enough for quite a few joints (I’m told). Non-residents, such as tourists, are allowed to buy only a quarter of an ounce at any one time. But there’s nothing to stop people going to a number of dispensaries in one day, although the maximum you can legally possess  is one ounce. But marijuana leaf is light, so that would be more than enough to last any tourist on a short visit (again, so I’m told).

Different strains and blends on offer include Dairy Queen, Cheesequake, Moonshine Haze, Blue Dream and Ghost Train Haze. You’d have to ask our store expert, TJ, the merits or otherwise of these.

And there are rules. No giving it to minors, not surprisingly, or using it in public unless you want to risk 15 days in jail (some businesses set aside private areas for pot use). And of course, no driving under the influence – beware the ‘edibles’, which take longer to take effect and can have much longer-lasting results.

In fact it’s all very complicated! If one were to smoke a joint in one’s hotel room, you’d risk a fine for contravening the hotel’s no smoking rules. And if you took it onto the balcony you’d face a fine for public use. Many are turning to vaporisers, often odourless. And helpfully, dispensaries usually sell those too!

And we couldn’t help but reflect how apposite it was that one of the slang terms for cannabis, Mary Jane, is also one of the two main peaks that comprise Winter Park’s skiing, just down the road from the dispensary. 

Useful information

On his road trip Rob visited resorts, including Winter Park, covered by the money-saving Ikon ski pass. He used the Hertz online America Road Trip Planner and he flew Heathrow to Denver with IcelandAir . He skied on Faction‘s latest range of skis whilst reporting for MadDogSki.com. The Igadi dispensary he visited is at Tabernash, Colorado,