“It was either Vegas or Colorado,” said “Wilma,” a D.C.-area woman, of her 40th birthday vacation plans.
Wilma along with friend “Betty” were in Denver, sans husbands and children, to spend a Saturday on the “One-Day Dispensary and Grow Tour” offered by My 420 Tours. And I was on the tour with them — reviewing the outing for you and other Cannabist readers.
Despite the Colorado Tourism Office’s lack of promotion, marijuana tour companies like My 420 Tours sprouted up alongside adult recreational shops at the beginning of 2014. For $150, the five-hour tour gets participants legally stoned in a private limo and make stops at a head shop, two dispensaries, a downtown restaurant and a marijuana grow.
On this particular Saturday, some guests were vacationing on an all-inclusive Thursday-through-Saturday marijuana tour package that included staying in a vape-friendly downtown hotel room, a cooking-with-cannabis class, a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens for the Chihuly glass exhibit and the Saturday we are about to experience. Many guests were couples celebrating milestones. According to Jason Green, logistics lead for My 420 Tours, 20 percent of his clients are from Texas and another 10 percent are international visitors.
At 10:30 a.m., a temporary check-in table in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1450 Glenarm Place, organizes all the guests. I sign in, show my ID and am wrapped with a yellow wristband. Our two guides are Jenny Harris, a guide with the company since June, and Brytanie (pronounced Brittany) Dotson, a new hire on her first tour. Green will follow behind the bus in a support vehicle.
We load into the bus at 11 a.m. The private party bus is posh with tinted windows, black leather bench seating, overhead paneling that changes colors, red and green lasers, two stripper poles and a built-in ice chest stocked with bottles of water. The 35 guests completely fill the available seats.
As we get rolling, Harris holds onto a pole and starts her welcome rap. Marijuana and marijuana products are defined in broad and mostly accurate descriptions; sativa and indica, vaporizers and edibles are briefly mentioned. For edibles, Harris recommends a maximum dose of 15 milligrams of THC and 5-10 milligrams for beginners. If you want to eat the whole edible, “do it on your own time — we want you to have a nice time with us,” she said.
Pot tourism: Is it good or bad for Colorado?
As Harris talks, Dotson passes out several cone joints to light up and pass around. At some point, the stoner-themed music mix starts to play, and Harris continues to educate us on current marijuana topics and historical facts. A vape pen is passed around, and the accompanying message is the stealth benefits for tokers using a vape pen. (No mention of the recent bans of public vape pen use in the area, though.) We are puffing and passing and then vaping and hey, what do you know, another joint passes by.
With her arms wrapped around the pole, Harris makes what I assume is an icebreaker comment, speculating about the tacky feel of the stripper pole. (Awkward!)
We arrive at our first stop, Illuzion Glass Gallery. Not only is Illuzion a head shop with a gigantic selection of smoking paraphernalia, it’s also an inspiring showcase of functional glass art pieces.
With lots of natural light and clean counters, the shop layout also comfortably accommodates the large group. There is plenty to peep and ogle, but less than half of the guests make purchases and take advantage of the 10 percent discount offered to the tour guests. The first stop seems over pretty fast, maybe 30 minutes. (A benefit of being a tour guest: If you are stoned and forget your credit card in the shop, it will likely get returned to you before the bus leaves!)
Oh no! A munchie emergency delays our departure. Harris speculates that a hungry couple, recent grad school graduates from New Mexico, had wandered off to the closest restaurant to get a bite to eat. She retrieves them. Together again and driving to the dispensary, I notice the stoner music soundtrack has been forgotten. Dotson unpacks the large glass pipes, Harris packs the bowls with herb and the pipes are passed around the bus.
It’s not exactly a game, but we answer a handful of stoner trivia questions and people shout out the answers, “Headshop!” and “Cottonmouth!”
We arrive at Native Roots Apothecary at 1555 Champa St. Store Manager Michael Pyatt, known strictly as Pyatt, steps on the bus, compliments the heady bus aroma and gives us the details: We have specials and recommendations, we have our own check stands, stay together and have IDs ready. We line up down the stairs to the sharply designed, modern garden-level suite and have time to look at our special tour menu, which includes basic dosing information and recommendations for sativa, hybrid and indica flowers and prerolls — and edibles for beginners and experts.
Most everyone makes a purchase, taking advantage of the several exclusive My 420 Tours discounts. Drinks and hard candies were 25 percent off. A flower special of some sort had a handful of people spending more than $100, earning a preroll for only a penny.
After an hour of shopping, Pyatt returns to the bus to thank us for stopping by. (Ah, nice professional touch!) Native Roots did the day’s best job at making us feel like valuable guests in their swanky store.
Inside the bus, “Slim,” a lanky kid from Houston with pale skin and glasses, is determined to overindulge. He pounds a newly purchased Dixie Elixir drink containing 75 milligrams of THC while several people around him, myself included, warn him not to drink the whole thing.
“I’ll be fine,” he says, “you should see me drink.”
“OK,” I thought, “we’ll be watching you have an anxiety attack in a couple hours.”