People pose for a photo op during the High Times Cannabis Cup at Denver Mart on April 20, 2014. (Seth McConnell, The Denver Post)

High Times editor: ‘Colorado cannabis industry is an economic miracle’

High Times magazine’s New York-rooted editor-in-chief Dan Skye has spent plenty of time in Colorado researching and photographing the state’s medical and recreational systems, but his current, pre-Cannabis Cup trip to the state has been uncommonly eye-opening.

“The Colorado cannabis industry is an economic miracle,” Skye said Monday from a stop in Pueblo, where he’s meeting cannabis business owners and reporting on the state’s first-of-its-kind legalization. “Everyone in the United States is following Colorado’s lead.”

We spoke with Skye a few days before his magazine’s flagship Cannabis Cup sets up shop at the Denver Mart, and we talked about his feelings on Colorado’s “mature” marijuana industry, the changes Cup-goers should expect at this year’s expanded event and everything in between.

Six takeaways from our interview with Skye:

1. Local names becoming national names

Skye looks forward to future states going recreational, but he said Colorado businesses have a distinct upper hand since they were first to the game.

“People say that California will put Colorado to shame, but Colorado already has the infrastructure and they’re working hard to make their names national names. I went around the state and visited 27 different dispensaries and companies, and the thing for me is how professional the industry has become and how everybody has dreams and they’re branching out into California, Illinois, Nevada, Minnesota and Massachusetts as well. It’s amazing what’s happening.”

2. The future of marijuana tourism in Colorado

Even though marijuana tourism has been hard to nail down, Skye thinks cannabis will continue to help drive people to Colorado.

“People love cannabis here, and it’s one of the great tourist states in the United States. Summertime is a great time to be in Colorado, and the ski people love it here in the winter. So Colorado will always be a popular place for cannabis tourism.”

3. A High Times bureau … in Denver?

High Times is New York proud, but that hasn’t always been ideal for the magazine’s coverage of more pot-lenient states. After all, NORML did open its first non-D.C. office in Denver recently.

“We should actually have an office here (in Denver). There are so many things happening here. I’ve been taking cannabis photographs for 25 years for the magazine, and if I came to Colorado you have everything happening here: Greenhouses, indoor warehouses, small grows, massive outdoor grows.”

4. A maturing industry, too busy for a shared smoke

What surprised Skye the most about his swing through Colorado?

“No one has time to smoke anymore. Everyone’s too busy. Everyone’s so mature and normal and straight and working hard. It’s business, and people have their lives invested here. It’s cannabis 24/7.”

5. Finding normalization amid the pioneering businesses

What distinctively Colorado moment sticks out for Skye from his road trip throughout the state?

“When I sat down with the OpenVape people, they seemed incredibly professional. And what struck me about them is, they have a beautiful office, and they treat cannabis like it’s the most natural thing in the world, like it’s a commodity. They’re normal, straight-looking professionals who are coming from other industries, and they’re treating marijuana like a commodity that can be used responsibly — and they’re creating good equipment to use it.”

6. Appreciating Colorado’s Good to Know ads, campaign

Skye saw a number of marijuana-related advertisements throughout Denver, and he particularly liked the state’s Good to Know campaign.

“The billboards in Denver are great. They’re just saying ‘Don’t smoke and drive’ and other basic things. It’s a positive campaign. I like it because, look, a lot of us are veteran marijuana smokers, and a lot of people use it. But a lot of people are coming to town and sampling marijuana — and really good marijuana for the first time — and it’s a reminder that this is a substance that should be used responsibly. It’s not a bad reminder for people. Edibles should be consumed responsibly, and concentrates are a very, very powerful medicant, if you will. These have to be used responsibly, like everything else, in moderation.”