Skyler Hall weighs grams of marijuana while Cheri Hackett replenishes his supply at BotanaCare 21+ in Northglenn, CO on December 31, 2013.

Talking pot in a modern world: Vaping, Sour Diesel and beyond

Pot, marijuana, cannabis or weed — it’s all slight variations on a plant.

And yet walking into a newly legal recreational pot shop can still be intimidating given the dizzying array of choices. Some shops have a discerning collection of bud: Nine or 10 carefully chosen strains behind the counter in hospital-like jars. Some have triple that amount.

Add in the vape pens, pipes and edibles — from suckers to brownies, puppy chow (a snack for humans, not pets) to gummy bears, chocolates to tinctures — and the selection alone can be somewhat overwhelming.

Feeling out of the loop in these high Colorado times? Don’t worry.

“I don’t think there’s any wrong questions somebody can ask when they walk into one of these places for the first time,” said Craig Adelman, one of the owners behind the Mile High Medical, Colorado Care Facility and Metropolis group. “Any question they want to ask about products and services is fair game.”

Let’s start with why you’re buying. Know this before walking up to the counter.

Buying for medical reasons: Are you hoping to alleviate recurring back pain or cure a long-lasting case of insomnia? Talk candidly with the bud-tender about what ails you, and how often, and your guide will point you in the right direction.

Buying for recreational reasons: You’re buying marijuana to relax, to cook with, to get silly on — all reasons you might buy a bottle of malbec. Are you looking for more of a body high or a head buzz? Are you making brownies via a cannabutter or using the pot for more savory recipes? Again, tell your bud-tender.

Some basic terminology:

Marijuana is most often classified via strains. “Pineapple Express” was a James Franco movie, but it was a strain before that. “Maui Waui” is a Kid Cudi hit, but it’s also a popular strain. The biggest strains in Denver right now, according to industry site Blue Dream, Golden Goat, Flo and Sour Diesel.

Most types of cannabis are broken down as indica or sativa. (Maui Waui is a sativa, Purple Kush is an indica.) Think of sativas as high-energy, awake, daytime strains and indica as late-night, couch-lock, sleepy strains.

“If we’re thinking of these as NyQuil and DayQuil,” said Adelman, “sativa is your DayQuil and indica is your NyQuil.”

How do you prefer to consume your cannabis?

The old-fashioned joint: At many shops, you can buy these pre-rolled to avoid the frustration.

Pipe/bong/one-hitter: The classics are still widely available at headshops all over the region.

Vaporizers/vape pens: Many modern tokers prefer vaporizing their cannabis opposed to smoking it, saying it’s healthier and it stretches your stash. That comes at a modern pricetag, too. Top-model Volcano Vaporizers sell for $500-$700; pens (such as the the Denver-rooted OpenVape) are significantly less expensive, going for $45 (including the pen and the cartridge) at area shops.

Dabbing: This method of ingesting pot, which involves the inhaling of heated cannabis concentrates (called wax or shatter), isn’t for the beginner. But it’s among the most popular ways to consume pot on the market.

Edibles: You’ve made jokes about pot brownies. And now you can taste them — along with enhanced sodas, candy bars, lozenges, tinctures, gummies and gluten-free cookies.

Ricardo Baca: 303-954-1394, or

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