(Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

Advice for Washington weed buyers: 8 tips from Colorado

Dear Washington.

You made it! July 8 marks your very first day of legal recreational marijuana sales. It was a long road here for all parties involved, but now it’s time to sit back, hope for the best and watch it all happen.

We in Colorado did this very same thing in January — although we did it a bit differently. The Colorado and Washington legalization models are very different, but Colorado began its legal sales blindly, with no other states in the union to learn from. Has Washington learned from Colorado’s mistakes and successes and Maureen Dowds? Surely the governments and industries have shared plenty, and hopefully it will make for a smooth transition.

But there’s also the lessons the public has to learn on its own. Sure, they might have seen video footage of the 300-people-deep lines stretching around Colorado pot shops on Jan. 1 or read about the wildly inconsistent levels of activated THC in Colorado’s marijuana-infused edibles. But some things must be learned first-hand, and this is a friendly note that might help that acclimation process.

1. “My, those are long lines”: Yes, there will be lines, and those lines will be hours-long. If you need to own (and possibly frame) a receipt stamped “July 8″ bring your Kindle, comfortable shoes and a desire to meet new friends. If you can wait a few days for your first legal recreational purchase, do. The lines will start getting shorter and shorter immediately. Within a week or two you’ll be able to pop in for an eighth on your lunch hour. Within a month or two the lines will be contained inside the store.


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2. “Ah, the high price of legal weed”: Yes, freedom is expensive! When I talked with Colorado pot shoppers on Jan. 1, the one word I heard most was “freedom.” And surely it’s a popular hashtag today in Washington. But these purchases will be costly — anywhere from $10-$25 per gram, some are saying. Yes, it’s a lot of money. Yes, the prices will eventually come down. But no, they won’t come down anytime soon. The market will take a while to regulate — years, even. In Colorado, more than six months after legal sales began, we’re still buying $16 recreational grams — and sometimes $20 recreational grams.

3. “The basics of supply and demand in the free market”: Washington law says you can buy up to an ounce of marijuana, but don’t expect to be able to buy that full amount anytime soon. Recreational marijuana supply in Washington is low, so sellers will likely limit the amount of green each person can buy. This goes for all the infused products, too. With recreational marijuana sales now legal, check out how those pot brownies and infused coffees fly off the shelves — it’s fast. So when the sign on the shop’s door says bud purchases will be limited to an eighth, have patience. When the budtender tells you about their one-edible limit, have patience. Soon enough you’ll be able to order your full ounce — or a six-pack of mix-and-match brownies and chocolate bars.

4. “I’m worried about legal pot and what it’ll do to Washington”: You’re not alone. The first month is going to be intense — really intense. Want to see what Colorado’s first month was like? Check it out: That time we legalized marijuana: 10 defining moments in the recreational era. What did it look like six months later? There was $202 million in sales and $17 million in taxes and fees, and there was a lot more, as we documented in our Six Months In series.

5. “Use edibles, but with caution”: Speaking of those ever-popular edibles, be careful with them. Brand new to marijuana? Consider yourself a well-seasoned expert? Either way, show caution on your first couple experiences with these potent sweets and drinks. We put together this comprehensive dosing guide — Get educated about edibles: Eight tips for getting right dose — and it contains sound advice for novices and experts alike.

6. “It’s been a while since my last joint”: Nervous about your first trip to the pot shop? It’s understandable. The world of cannabis has changed a ton since the ’70s and ’80s. But give us 20-30 minutes of your time and we’ll have you caught up. No. 1: Start with this piece, which helps you talk marijuana in the modern world. No. 2: Play around with our New Cannabis Lexicon, the glossary of all dank glossaries. No. 3: Spend a few minutes with our professional strain reviews. Check out the differences between Afgoo and Blue Dream and Flo. Admire the photos, which are admittedly beautiful — and the different bud structures signify the differences between these strains. (Skip to our Top 25 list, if that’s easier.) And No. 4: Simply check out our gear reviews, and look at the many shapes and sizes and colors of vape pens — and glass and pipes and desktop vaporizers and beyond.

7. “Oh, you’re from Washington? Let’s chat pot for an hour”: We know the feeling. When we travel as Coloradans, no longer are we asked about John Elway and Aspen and John Denver — all people wanna talk about is weed. If you’re over the marijuana small-talk, take this advice from our Q&A columnist.

8. “But I have more questions”: Great, because we have more answers. The Cannabist is based in Colorado, but we’re covering marijuana everywhere it matters — from Uruguay to California to New York to Amsterdam to (yep, you guessed it) Washington. Send your marijuana questions (on growing, the law, smoking, whatever) to our Cannabist Q&A columnist now: askthe cannabist@gmail.com.

Welcome to the ride, neighbors. And if you ever find yourselves bummed that Colorado has a six-month headstart on you in the recreational cannabis sales realm, simply think back to Feb. 2, 2014 when your Seahawks had their way with our Broncos. That should make you feel a little better — and us a little bitter.

Signed.

Ricardo and The Cannabist staff


Six Months In:
A special report from The Cannabist

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Big changes ahead: Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry starts a transformation Tuesday that could add hundreds of new pot businesses to the state and reconfigure the market’s architecture

Listen to the NPR audio: What has Colo. learned from its legal pot sales?

Watch the live stream: Katie Couric, Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper talk marijuana in Aspen on July 1, the six-month anniversary of legal recreational pot sales in the state