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Cannabist Q&A: Synthetic pot, insomnia weed and much more

Welcome to our new Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 64-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at

Hey, Cannabist!
Does synthetic marijuana offer a different high than the normal stuff?
–Mock Mick

Hey, Mock Mick!
Synthetic marijuana is different from actual marijuana; it is various herbs mixed with synthetic cannabinoids. When smoked, it mimics a high — similar to natural marijuana but doesn’t last as long. Health impacts from synthetic marijuana use are not well known, but many have been taken to Colorado hospitals in the last year because of the dangerous drug (most recently on Monday). Also notable: Synthetic marijuana does not trigger a positive for THC on urine tests. XO

Read more Cannabist Q&A: Travel, edibles potency.

Hey, Cannabist!
I’m in my 70s and have fought insomnia for more than a decade. I’ve previously relied upon ambien, but even that’s starting to lose its potency. Do you have a recommendation for a strain or an edible that might help me fall (and stay) asleep?
–Sleepless in Stapleton

Hey, Sleepless in Stapleton!
For enduring sleep, you want an infused product to eat before bedtime because the effects of an edible will last longer than inhaling cannabis. Find an edible made with either indica-dominant or hybrid cannabis strains because indica varieties are considered to be more physically relaxing and have more sedative effects than sativa-dominant varieties. In finding the right dosage to achieve a full night of rested sleep, you might find you only need to eat a fraction of the whole edible to sleep well and wake up clear headed. We recommend caution with edibles, since it takes longer to feel it. But start by buying an edible that can easily be broken into 10-milligram pieces. (Hard candies are usually good for this, but some chocolate bars also work well.) Start with a 5-milligram dose an hour before bedtime. If that doesn’t do the trick, try 10 milligrams the following night. If you get up to 20 milligrams per night and it’s not helping, cannabis might not be the best option for your type of insomnia. XO


Hey, Cannabist!
I’m coming to Colorado in January to party. I know I can buy it, but where will I be able to smoke it?
–Punxsutawney Phil

Hey, Punxsutawney Phil!
At this time, consumption is only legal in private places. So, you won’t find advertised cannabis coffee shops or social clubs because they are not legal. Hopefully you will be staying with friends and have a comfortable home option. If you don’t have a private place to wake and bake, new tour and guide companies are offering programs and events for out-of-state visitors to be entertained and safely (and legally) enjoy cannabis. Cannabis-themed events are advertised, and venues are known by word-of-mouth to be tolerant to open cannabis consumption. However, the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, which bans tobacco smoking in most bars, restaurants and clubs, was amended this year to include marijuana smoking. So many of the cannabis-friendly places could still be fined for violating this newly amended state law.