Colorado Rocky Mountain High

anonymous Taffet

An anonymous Taffet with her purchase from Green Man Cannabis

Earlier this month, I visited Colorado for the first time since the ban was lifted.

Same-sex marriage? Eh. That’s old hat in Colorado. I’m talking about the ban on recreational marijuana that was lifted last year.

Colorado voters overwhelming decided to legalize recreational marijuana. Despite this being a very regulated new industry, there are now more pot stores — I’m sorry, Colorado, I mean cannabis dispensaries — than there are Starbucks or McDonald’s restaurants in the state. The state’s a little touchy about how we reefer, I mean refer, to their huge new industry.

The state’s raking in the bucks. With a prescription, purchasers of medical marijuana pay just the sales tax. Recreational users, however, pay sales tax plus any state and local tax. In Denver, that means 20.5 percent tax.

I was in Colorado to visit family. We converged on a cousin who lives south of Denver and relatives came from Mississippi, California and London. Us out-of-staters decided we had to visit one of the state’s newest attractions. Oh, we made it to Garden of the Gods in the hills below Pike’s Peak. And we crossed the Continental Divide, drove over mountains more than two miles high in Rocky Mountain National Park, photographed marmots, elk and mountain sheep and shopped in Boulder and Estes Park.

But our visit to Green Man Cannabis in Denver was, well, fascinating.

Of course, I wasn’t buying any for myself. The trip was entirely inspired by one of my cousins. Really.

First, find a location. Basically, if you’re in Denver and there’s a shopping center, you’ll find a dispensary. They’re out, they’re open, and they have big, well marked signs.

Next, you must show ID. Colorado residents may purchase up to an ounce a day. Out-of-staters may purchase ¼ ounce in a single transaction.

With IDs checked, pass through the door to the dispensary. Stoners — I mean salespeople — have the product behind the counter. These salespeople are well educated about their product. Our saleswoman had quite extensive personal experience with the products she was selling. Any retailer would be proud to have salespeople with such good product knowledge. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had actually sampled much of the product in order to enhance her selling ability.

In their bid for professionalism, the weed stores — I’m sorry, cannabis dispensaries — have an entirely new lingo. They don’t sell pot brownies. Instead, there’s a variety of “edibles” — hard candies, cookies, chews, drinks and tincture. They don’t sell reefers, but you can buy pre-rolled product. You can also purchase topicals: “medicine that can be applied directly to the skins surface for muscle and joint pain as well as skin irritation relief.”

And of course there are cannabis varietals that are displayed in clumps in glass jars. Our saleswoman did a good job of explaining the difference between each of the samples and recommended just what she thought we — I mean my cousin — would enjoy.

She was also clear on the law. The business is strictly regulated. My cousin was leaving the state the next day. No, she shouldn’t pack it in her suitcase. Pot is strictly forbidden on federal property. That means don’t bring it to national parks, national forests, federal court buildings or airports.

Even though the city of Denver operates Denver International Airport and Denver police are responsible for its safety, federal law is followed. So Denver police who have more important things to do will reluctantly — pot tax is where their next raise will come from — arrest anyone caught with weed in the airport. And they use sniffer dogs, although we didn’t see any at the airport.

Interestingly the ban on bringing pot into a federal court building implies it’s perfectly fine to bring it into a county courthouse.

The law prohibits smoking in public. That’s why edibles have become so popular. There are no laws about sucking on candy in public. And there are DUI laws with a legal limit for THC in the blood while driving.

According to one anonymous source — OK, according to one cousin who lives in Colorado — quite a few dispensaries opened and closed quickly. The remaining ones are run by serious business people, many of whom are now expanding to multiple locations.

In January 2014, pot sales began slowly and the state only collected about $3 million in tax revenue. By July 2015, marijuana tax revenues topped $10 million for the first time.

The state and the dispensaries are having a problem, however — where to put their money. Banks are federally chartered and regulated and have been reluctant to take deposits from dispensaries or even from the state, because they could be seen as laundering drug money.

And the rest of the trip? You owe yourself a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.

—  David Taffet

Judge tosses Colorado same-sex marriage ban, but stays ruling pending appeal

U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore issued his ruling today overturning Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage. His ruling comes less than a month after a state district judge ruled in a separate care that the ban is unconstitutional.

Moore rejected Attorney General John Suthers’ argument that failing to issue a stay would be harmful to the state and cause legal confusion. But the judge did temporarily stay his ruling to give Suthers’ office until 8 a.m. on Aug. 25 to appeal his ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read The Denver Post’s story on the ruling and the complicated background of state court rulings vs. federal court vs. a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in a similar case in Utah and the more than 3oo marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in Colorado since June 25.

—  Tammye Nash

Marriage equality updates: While we wait on Colorado …..

U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore, who heard arguments yesterday in a suit seeking to overturn Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage, has indicated he is likely to rule in favor of the gay couples who say the ban is unconstitutional. The real question is whether Judge Moore will put his ruling on hold until the inevitable appeals are heard and decided, according to this report by The Washington Post.

Colorado Attorney General  John Suthers isn’t opposing the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction overturning the marriage ban, but he does want Judge Moore to stay his ruling. On the flip side, though, plaintiffs’ attorney Mari Newman argued against the stay, reminding the judge that “justice delayed is justice denied.”

Judge Moore is expected to announce his ruling and his decision on whether or not to issue the stay sometime today. But while we are waiting to hear from Colorado, here are a few more marriage-related tidbits to ponder. (And yes, David Taffet usually does the marriage news roundup here on Instant Tea, but he’s on vacation this week.)


Rubio still opposes marriage equality

Official Portrait

Sen. Marco Rubio

File this one under the “Color Us NOT Surprised” heading: Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, is expected to reiterate his opposition to marriage equality in a speech at a Catholic university later today. OK, so he’s not gonna actually say he opposes same-sex marriage. What he’s going to say is that he believes states’ should be allowed to define marriage as they see fit, whether he agrees with them or not, and without interference from the federal courts.

Rubio, a possible Republican presidential candidate, has also said he is not in favor of a federal constitutional ban. By saying that he personally opposes same-sex marriage but believes states should be able to define marriage as they see fit, Rubio is likely looking for a little bit of semi-neutral middle ground in preparation for that possible run for the White House.

This report in the Tampa Bay Times gives more detail on his words and his voting record.


Equality Florida to deliver petitions to Bondi

The four same-sex couples challenging Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage along with representatives of Equality Florida Institute are set to deliver 7.000 petitions signed by Floridians to Attorney General Pam Bondi, urging her to “stop wasting taxpayer resources” defending the ban.

Monroe County Chief Circuit Judge Luis M. Garcia issued a ruling on July 17 declaring the ban unconstitutional, although on Monday, July 21, he issued a stay of the ruling as the case moves through the appeals process.

Equality Florida says that recent surveys show that at least 57 percent of Florida residents support marriage equality.

The petitions will be delivered Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, the Miami Herald’s Fred Grimm posted this column criticizing the twice-divorced Bondi for appealing Garcia’s ruling.

“With five divorces between the two of us, Pam Bondi and I aren’t exactly paragons of marriage stability,” Grimm writes. “Nothing in Florida law, however, would keep either one of us from denigrating that hallowed institution once again.”

—  Tammye Nash

UPDATE: Colorado’s pro-marriage equality decision stops marriage equality


Mork and Mindy’s house in Boulder, Colorado. About 100 same-sex couples have married in Boulder in the last few weeks. Could marriage equality lead to humans marrying aliens?


A ruling by the district court in Boulder County that followed the state court’s ruling allows the county clerk to continue issuing marriage licenses.


In the most ironic decision on marriage equality since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act a year ago, a state judge ruled Colorado’s marriage law unconstitutional.

Normally that would be good news, but the ruling actually stopped same-sex marriages in the state.

After the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Utah marriage ban, several county clerks in Colorado began issuing marriage licenses. Because Colorado is in the same circuit as Utah, those Colorado county clerks reasoned the Utah ruling applied to them as well.And because the stay specified Utah, they reasoned the stay didn’t apply to them.

The county clerk in Boulder County continued issuing licenses despite threats from the state attorney general. So the AG took the matter to court where he lost yesterday.

Good news? Normally. But while the judge ruled that Colorado’s marriage law is unconstitutional, he placed a stay on his ruling pending further appeal.

Since the stay this time applies to Colorado, the county clerk in Boulder must stop issuing licenses.

About 100 licenses have been issued in Boulder and a separate hearing will be held to determine if those marriages are valid. In cases in other states where licenses were issued before a stay was placed on a legal decision, those marriages have been upheld and recognized.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Marriage equality win in Colorado

Colorado state District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled Wednesday that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2006, is unconstitutional. But Crabtree immediately stayed his ruling as the case moves through the appeals process, Reuters has reported.

In his ruling, Crabtree wrote: “There is no rational relationship between any legitimate governmental purpose and the marriage bans.”

Also on Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced he will appeal a ruling by a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit appeals court directly to the U.S. Supreme Court rather than asking for the full 10th Circuit court to rehear the case.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and lawsuits challenging same-sex marriage bans are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court while two other lawsuits challenging bans in Oklahoma and Virginia have already been heard by appellate courts.

—  Tammye Nash

Boulder won’t back down, Florida case in court and more

equalityfloridaToday in marriage equality news: A Florida attorney told a trial court the state’s marriage ban should end. Colorado’s attorney general told a county clerk to stop issuing licenses until he has a final ruling even though he favors an end to the ban. The ACLU wants to make sure licenses issued in Wisconsin are considered valid.


Florida’s marriage ban case went to court yesterday.

Attorney Jeffrey Cohen asked the judge to issue a ruling similar to those in more than 20 other cases across the nation striking down discriminatory marriage bans as unconstitutional. Cohen also pointed out that while Florida allows same-sex couples to adopt children, it still refuses to let them marry.

“It’s the right of a person to choose who they love and who they make their future with,” Cohen said. “We should not make anyone a second-class citizen.”

The judge didn’t indicate when she would rule on the case.


Colorado Attorney General John Suthers demanded Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall stop issuing marriages licenses.

But this isn’t an issue of liberal v. conservative. Suthers wants Hall to stop until he receives a clear ruling from the Tenth Circuit and joined Gov. John Hickenlooper in requesting the court overturn the state’s marriage ban. Hickenlooper is a Democrat and Suthers is a Republican.

Hall has refused and continues to issue licenses to same-sex couples. She began issuing the licenses immediately after the Tenth Circuit ruled Utah’s marriage law is unconstitutional. The appeals court stayed its decision, but the stay specified Utah, so Hall, along with two other county clerks in Colorado, began issuing licenses. With legal council, she said the ruling applies to Colorado, which is also in the Tenth Circuit, but the stay on the ruling did not apply to Colorado, since it specified Utah.

While Suthers would like Colorado’s marriage ban overturned, his motion to the court could stop Hall until the court issues a final ruling.


In Wisconsin, the ACLU is filing a suit seeking legal recognition for the marriages of the same-sex couples who wed in the days after a federal judge overturned the state ban. Following Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling, more than 500 same-sex couples were married. Days later, Crabb stayed her ruling, pending appeal by state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.


Although a date hasn’t been set, the Irish will vote on marriage equality sometime early in 2015. Should people really be allowed to vote on other people’s civil rights? According to all courts who’ve weighed in on the issue in the last year, it was wrong when voters in the early 2000s stopped LGBT rights. Does even a yes vote make this election any better?

—  David Taffet

Colorado clerks begin issuing marriage licenses


Couples can marry in Boulder … for now.

As a result of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling yesterday that struck down the Utah marriage ban, Boulder County has begun issuing marriage licenses. Lafayette and Longmont counties will begin on Friday, according to the Denver Post.

Colorado is in the same circuit as Utah, so the Boulder County clerk said the ruling applies to her state. The attorney general disagrees and said the licenses won’t be valid.

By the end of the Wednesday, two couples were married. Boulder’s county clerk said she will continue issuing licenses today.

On Wednesday, the Tenth Circuit issued a split ruling declaring Utah’s marriage ban unconstitutional. The court put a stay on its ruling until it’s heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The stay only mentions Utah, not Colorado, and Boulder’s county clerk acted after advice from the county’s legal staff. The circuit also encompassed Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming.

The attorney general’s actions indicate that Colorado will not accept the decision of the court in its marriage cases, as the Oregon attorney general did several weeks ago, and will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

—  David Taffet

Marriages to begin Thursday in Minn., R.I.; Colorado grants 1st gay divorce


Gay Rhode Island state Rep. Frank Ferri will marry Thursday.

In Minnesota and Rhode Island, same-sex couples can begin to marry at midnight tonight. Meanwhile, Colorado granted its first same-sex divorce.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the Minnesota marriage equality bill into law on May 14. Courthouses in Minneapolis, St. Paul and other large cities will be open at midnight tonight to accommodate couples who want to be among the first to take advantage of the new law.

Minneapolis Mayor Ron Stein plans to marry about 40 couples on the first day of marriage equality.

Betty Crocker, based in Minnesota, is donating wedding cakes for the first day of wedding celebrations.

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., the largest shopping mall in the U.S., will host a wedding on Aug. 1 in its Chapel of Love.

Rhode Island already had civil unions and recognized marriages performed elsewhere. When the civil union bill passed, it satisfied no one. Opponents of the bill wanted no relationship recognition and marriage-equality proponents saw no purpose in getting a civil union when all surrounding states offered marriage.

Now, couples may go to city or town clerks to turn their civil unions into marriages. Other couples are expected to marry beginning Thursday morning.

Rhode Island state Rep. Frank Ferri is planning to marry his partner Tony Caparco. They were married in Canada in 2006, but will remarry on Thursday. House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is also gay, will preside, according to the local NBC affiliate.

Also this week, Colorado granted its first same-sex divorce. Earlier this year, the state passed civil unions. Although same-sex couples can’t marry in Colorado, they can now dissolve marriages from other states.

—  David Taffet

LGBT activists plan rally tonight in Dallas in response to North Carolina marriage ban

Activists march down Cedar Springs Road in 2009 after voters in Maine overturned marriage equality. (JOHN WRIGHT/Dallas Voice)

In response to the passage of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina, LGBT activists in Dallas plan a rally tonight on Cedar Springs Road.

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL, said the rally will call for the Democratic National Committee to move its 2012 Democratic National Convention out of Charlotte, and for the DNC to add support for same-sex marriage and full federal equality for LGBT people to the party platform. The rally will also call for leaders like Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and President Barack Obama to end their silence on marriage equality.

“The passage of Amendment 1 sends a clear message that a majority can, by a popular vote, restrict the rights of a minority. This is dangerous territory and undermines the principals our nation was founded upon. Fair minded people across this nation must speak up and condemn the passage of this amendment.” Cates said in a press release. “We are calling on all leaders, from Mayor Mike Rawlings to President Obama, who have claimed to be our friends and campaigned for our votes to end their silence on issues of civil rights for LGBT people and take a substantive stand for what they know is right.”

North Carolina, where first cousins and convicted murderers can still marry, becomes the 30th state to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — and the last of the Southern states to do so. Amendment One, which voters approved by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, also prohibits all other forms of relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, as if to add insult to injury, Republicans in the Colorado House blocked a vote on a civil unions bill late Tuesday.

Tonight’s rally begins at 7 at the Legacy of Love Monument, at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. Participants are encouraged to bring signs, flags banners and candles. For more information, contact Cates at The full press release is below.

—  John Wright

Girl Scout cookie boycott may backfire, if Twitter is any indication

The Huffington Post reports on an effort to boycott girl scout cookies in response to the organization’s trans affirming positions. Last fall, after a Colorado troop leader initially refused to allow Bobby Montoya to participate because she was identified as male at birth, Girl Scout leaders in that state with the support of the national organization quickly responded by re-enforcing their policy of allowing all girls to participate. “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl,” said the GSC statement, “Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

That act of common decency inspired this video:

If the initial response on Twitter is any indication, however, the burgeoning boycott may backfire, begetting a bumper year for Tag-a-longs, Thinmints and Trefoils (those yummy shortbread cookies).

—  admin