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

TCC board member will match $500 donations with every song dedication at ‘O Holy Night’ show

The Turtle Creek Chorale just sent over the below notice in which board member Brian Rogers talks up family and tradition. It’s sweet. In it, he proposes a pretty original idea — sponsoring a carol as a sort of glorified dedication. For a $500 donation to the chorale, you can dedicate “Silent Night” to your parents, partner, children, etc. Kinda cool, right? Well, if you have that kinda change, definitely. To sweeten the pot though, Rogers is matching every single donation until Nov. 30. Your dedication will appear in the program, and you’ll get a framed version of it.

This can be tough, though. My favorite carol changes every year, and so far, I haven’t hunkered down with my Christmas music yet. Does Weezer’s “Holiday” count? The Turtle Creek Chorale performs its annual holiday show, O Holy Night, Dec. 15, 20 and 22 at the Meyerson. For tickets, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

Query • 11.05.10

How will Tuesday’s elections affect the LGBT community?


Karen McCrocklin — “Now, more then ever, we need to make progress personal. Changing hearts and minds is the most effective on a one-to-one basis. Whatever the political climate, we can continue to create change by living openly, authentically and unapologetically.”

Jade Esteban Estrada — “Many LGBT community members will step up and see how easy it is to lose our recent gains and will become more passionate in their leadership, visibility and activism. I believe it will stir the pot and get them more involved.”

Wendy North — “It will make people either move to Canada or get working to effect change. Write opinions to the paper, social media or tell everyone you know how you feel. Change happens slowly. Start now!”

Terry Loftis — “Nationally things will move forward albeit probably at a slower pace than before. I don’t think the American public see our efforts as the big threat.”


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Chief Halstead: 'I will find you and I will fire you' (unless, apparently, you raid a gay bar)

Wesley Lamb
Wesley Lamb

“To those very, very select few who think that you can stand against policy, that you can violate the public’s trust, I will find you and I will fire you,” Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead told a news conference yesterday, according to The Star-Telegram.

No,  he wasn’t talking about the officers who raided the Rainbow Lounge. He was talking about the latest string of scandals to hit the department including this week’s arrest of officer Wesley Lamb.

Lamb was arrested for smoking a doobie — in uniform — in his patrol car.

Not kewl, dude.

—  David Taffet

Porn star dies during arrest

Andrew Grande — better known to his fans as porn star Dustin Michaels — died during the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 12, when police in Panama City, Fla., tasered him while attempting to arrest him. reports that Grande had apparently gotten into an argument with a female friend with whom he was riding. He made her let him get out of the car at a hotel parking lot and then pushed her when she followed him. Someone called the police, and when they arrived, Grande reportedly tried to swallow a plastic bag of marijuana.

What happened next was caught on video by a camera crew with TruTV. The graphic video shows Grande fighting back as officers wrestled him to the ground and tried to handcuff him. It shows one of the officers shooting Grande with a taser gun, and it shows Grande immediately beginning to choke, reaching down his own throat to try and dislodge the bag and frantically trying to signal his predicament to the officers.

The video also shows the officers trying desperately to help, administering the Heimlich manuever and doing anything else they could. But to no avail. Grande was taken by ambulance to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Here’s the video. But be warned, it is pretty disturbing stuff.
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—  admin