Lexi Menees, 8, sells Girl Scout cookies outside a marijuana dispensary in Phoenix as her parents, Heidi Carney and husband Justin Menees, stand nearby on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (Terry Tang, The Associated Press)

Cannabis Q&A: Girl Scouts, unemployment benefits, first-time shopping advice

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 askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist!
Are Girls Scouts selling cookies outside marijuana dispensaries? Nom Nom Nom!
— Cookie Monster

Hey, Cookie Monster!
No, Girl Scouts in Colorado are not selling cookies outside marijuana centers. Most of the recent media hubbub surrounded a California Scout setting up a table outside a San Francisco dispensary and making brisk sales. Some people heralded the Scout for being a savvy marketer, selling cookies to people inclined to get the munchies. Other people are concerned about the close proximity of kids to cannabis (it happened in Phoenix too).

In Denver, compliant marijuana businesses are already 1,000 feet away from any school or child care center. After much effort has been made by business owners to comply with this distance regulation, it would be awkward for Girl Scout troops to then set up a cookie sale at a Denver center.

The policy of marijuana center sales is not new for the Girl Scouts of Colorado. According to Rachelle Trujillo, chief marketing and communications officer, the organization’s policy is to allow cookie sales outside family-oriented businesses only, like grocery stores. Girls are not allowed to sell cookies outside adult-oriented businesses such as liquor stores, casinos or marijuana centers. So, the troops in Black Hawk can’t hawk cookies outside casinos and Denver troops can’t sell munchie treats to marijuana center customers.

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Hey, Cannabist!
Will this affect your unemployment benefits if fired for testing positive for medical marijuana use (not on the job)?
–Working Stiff

Hey, Working Stiff!
Yes, it is very likely unemployment benefits would be affected — and possibly denied — if an employee is fired for testing positive for medical marijuana use.  No language in the marijuana amendments 20 and 64 protects drug-tested employees for non-work medical or recreational marijuana consumption.  This employment issue is being defined by case law and so far, medical marijuana in the state constitution is not persuasive enough to redefine matters.

The case that sets this precedence in Colorado is Beinor v. Industrial Claim Appeals Office. In 2010, Jason Beinor, who had a doctor recommendation for medical marijuana, lost his job for a hot UA and was fired under his employer’s zero-tolerance drug policy. He was denied unemployment benefits, took the matter to court and lost his case.

The court gave several reasons for this ruling. One, being a medical marijuana patient doesn’t make an employee exempt from following employment policies.  Two, marijuana, is federally defined as a Schedule 1 controlled substance with no known medical use.  Three, medical marijuana is not a prescribed drug, it is doctor recommended. So in this case, according to the company’s employment policy, when an employee tests positive for an unprescribed controlled substance, termination is immediate.

Check out the language in your employment contract. Read the clauses on employment drug testing so you know the policy that applies to you. XO

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Hey, Cannabist!
I’m from out of state and a few Saturdays from now, I’ll be travelling through Denver on my way to Colorado ski country for a few weeks.  I plan to stop at one of the dispensaries in the Denver.  The customer reviews on Weedmaps have been helpful in selecting a likely location, so I feel good about that.

I’ll be staying in a private home in the high country, and I’m aware of the restrictions on out-of-state purchases.  What other things should I be prepared for at the dispensary?  Should I still be prepared for long lines?  I want to be a welcome and well-behaved guest, so any tips you can give me are appreciated. 
–Vacationing Flatlander

Hey, Flatlander! 
Sounds like you have a fun trip planned.  I like how you’ve researched the basic rules of use, and found an appealing marijuana center to visit when you get here.  You are well on your way to being a well-behaved tourist!

What else is helpful to know? The lines at centers with recreational marijuana licenses are not wrapping around the buildings anymore. Expect a line between five to twenty people, depending on the time of day. Also, no on-site consumption is allowed, so don’t light up in or near the center, and don’t drive stoned.

Colorado Map: Recreational stores and dispensaries

One of the best parts of your trip will be your first shopping experience in a marijuana center. It’s a feast for the senses!  The smell, the selection, the names of the varieties, the range of edibles and concentrate products, the people … it’s an eye-opening and sometimes overwhelming experience.

Enjoy the experience and have fun. Tell your budtender it’s your first time at a center and ask for a full explanation of the menu. Smell every single aromatic sample, even if you don’t follow everything the budtender is saying at the time or can’t tell the difference anymore. Select a few appealing strains and products to enjoy at your leisure.

You might even feel and act like a kid in a candy store. It’s a phenomenon for some first-time customers to be in wide-eyed wonder inside a legal marijuana center.  On my Facebook wall, my friends bantered around possible names for this phenomenon, like “pot shock,” “weedphoria,” “cannabliss,” or “ganja giddy.”  

Whatever it’s called, if you find yourself in this state of amazement, know this is a normal reaction to a new and unique situation.  After your cannabliss shopping trip, stash your goodies in the trunk of your car for safe-keeping until you reach your destination.   Enjoy your visit! XO