(John Leyba, Denver Post file)

Cannabist Q&A: Limits on plants, tourist smoke spots, insomnia strain

Welcome to our 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!
I have a question and I can’t find the answer. I am not sure I want to know the answer, but here it is. When Amendment 64 passed, it clearly stated it will have nothing to do with Amendment 20, the medical marijuana amendment. I was allowed to grow my medical plants outside, but with the new growing rules for 64, I am not allowed to grow those plants outside.  Am I still allowed to grow my medical plants outside? Also, since these amendments have nothing to do with each other, can I grow my six Amendment 20 plants and six Amendment 64 plants? Thank you for clearing this up. –Cannabis Cultivator

Hey, Cannabis Cultivator!
Interesting question! State law doesn’t prohibit outdoor grows. But you can’t grow just anywhere, either. As we have discussed previously, growing space must be “a permanent or semi-permanent area covered and surrounded on all sides,” according to HB 14-1122. According to marijuana lawyer Warren Edson, local county or city laws might prohibit or restrict outdoor grows.  “If a town or city is incorporated then those rules dictate.  If a town/city is not incorporated, then the county rules dictate,” clarifies Edson.  For example, the city of Golden has banned outdoor growing, and in Denver, a maximum of 12 plants are allowed at a residence even if there are more than two adults living there, and the grow must be fully enclosed and locked, whether it is inside or outside.

As for plant count, according to Edson, Section 7(a) in Amendment 64 says nothing in the recreational amendment limits a medical marijuana patient. Amendment 64 allows up to six recreational marijuana plants. Your physician can recommend six or more medical plants under the Amendment 20 state law.  The number of plants and strains is up to you and the physician.  So, it is possible for an adult over 21 who is a medical patient to have 12 plants — six recreational and six medical — and be legally compliant with state laws. However, while the state laws do not limit privileges, a doctor may subjectively limit them. Edson states: “Please keep in mind that this is with the doctor’s recommendation.  If the doctor thinks you can meet your medical needs with your six recreational plants, then you could be out of luck.”

Your question regarding the separation and similarities of the constitutional amendments bring up interesting legal differences between medical and recreational marijuana homegrows. Edson points out a few intricate discrepancies. You can give away rec weed but not medical.  The medical law has a cap on the total weight limit you can possess at home from a home grow, while under the recreational law you can keep anything you grow at that site. Edson admits, “It gets complicated.”  XO

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Hey, Cannabist!
Given that consumption in public in Denver is illegal, where can a tourist who’s in town freely consume? I’ve heard that some of the recreational stores have smoking facilities. Is this true, and can you recommend some? I’m flying into Denver, but I’m staying out in Broomfield in late July. Thanks!!! –Dagga Day Tripper

Hey, Dagga Day Tripper!
Yes, you are right,  public consumption of marijuana is not allowed by Colorado law. The definition of “open and public” in Amendment 64 has been a hotly debated issue in Denver. Some interpret open and public to mean exactly that, open and public, making marijuana consumption legal in private spaces only. Others interpret the phrase to allow for open consumption in appropriate places. For example, open alcohol consumption is not legal, but open alcohol is allowed at street festivals with proper city licensing.

Smoking outside anyway is not a safe bet. Police in Denver and Boulder have been issuing more tickets for public marijuana consumption lately. In Denver, first-time offenders face a $150 fine.

Six months into legalized recreational marijuana sales, the consumption options for tourists remain limited outside of private residences. Cannabis tour companies offer sightseeing tours with stops at recreational marijuana centers. Some tours are cannabis focused, with stops at centers, gardens, and cannabis culture landmarks. Other tours offer a stop for recreational purchases with typical city sightseeing activities.  According to JJ Walker, CEO of My 420 Tours, cannabis tours utilize private limos or buses, which are exempt from Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act smoking restrictions. Marijuana consumption is done in the private vehicle between destinations.  A few local tour companies are My 420 Tours, Rocky Mountain High Tours and Roots and Culture Cannabis Tours.

Private social lounges and members-only smoking clubs are popping up. They are never in conjunction with recreational marijuana shops, though, because consumption at licensed marijuana businesses is not allowed. Patrons purchase a daily or monthly membership, and bring cannabis to smoke or vape in a social setting.

Private smoking clubs, operating in a gray area of law, are tolerated by local governments to various degrees. iBake is a Denver head shop with a club for members to smoke marijuana or tobacco.  Other clubs include Club Ned in Nederland, Maryjane’s in Denver, Three Kings Dab Supply in Wheat Ridge  and Studio A64, The Lazy Lion and Speak Easy Vape Lounge in Colorado Springs. In downtown Boulder, Hot Box Lounge was open for six weeks before closing its doors. XO

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Hey, Cannabist!
I have been battling insomnia for years. During my teen years, I was prescribed a medication to help me with sleep and I should say it did help me a lot with rest and sleep. Now, I am almost 30 years old and my body can no longer handle the stress of lack of sleep. I have been interested for a while in the medical use of marijuana for a sleep aid. I was wondering if you can help which strain I should use. –L.A. Confidential

Hey, L.A. Confidential!
Medical questions are tricky to answer because medical marijuana has plenty of anecdotal evidence for effective treatment for ailments and diseases but not much actual scientific data to back it up. I talked to California-based physician Dr. Frank Lucido, who is a medical cannabis consultant. Dr. Lucido cautions patients from taking budtenders’ strain recommendations too seriously because there are no medical studies to back up the medicinal claims, and the budtender’s job is to sell product. Dr. Lucido says strain attributes should be considered marketing and not fact.

In general, either indica-dominant or hybrid cannabis strains are recommended because indica varieties are considered to be more physically relaxing and have more sedative effects than sativa-dominant varieties.

Martha Montemayor of Healthy Choices Unlimited, a Colorado medical marijuana evaluation clinic, recommends cannabis with a cannabinoid profile higher in CBN and CBD with a small amount of THC to help with insomnia. Montemayor advises if you have a hard time falling asleep, but no problem staying asleep, you might try smoking or vaporizing, which takes 1 to 3 minutes to take effect and lasts 1-3 hours. Also, a sublingual tincture or spray, which takes 15 to 30 minutes for onset, can last 3-5 hours and may be another option for inducing sleep.  If you can fall asleep but cannot stay asleep, edibles and capsules, which have an onset delay of 1 hour, can last 6-8 hours and may help keep you asleep.

In finding your correct dosage, Montemayor recommends starting with a dose of 2.5 milligrams of activated THC and increasing incrementally if needed. If you want to use edibles or capsules as a sleep aid, it is important to know how it affects you first before you use it regularly. Individual differences in metabolism and body weight, among other factors, affect the onset and absorption of THC in the body.  I hope this is helpful. XO

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