The author in search of a place to legally smoke his legal weed.
On Wednesday, I bought some legal weed at Colorado's newly opened recreational pot stores. What an incredible feeling of freedom and liberation! Finally, after nearly a century of oppression and millions of arrests, the War on Marijuana is over—at least in the Rocky Mountain State, where I'm now safe from harm for choosing buds over booze.
Except that certain restrictions still apply when it comes to enjoying this newly legal herb. For instance, any of the following could quickly earn me a citation, an arrest, or even a felony charge.
- Possessing more than an ounce of cannabis
- Displaying or smoking cannabis in public view (except on a front porch)
- Selling cannabis without a license
- Sharing cannabis with someone under 21
- Transporting cannabis across state lines
- Driving while impaired by cannabis
- Bringing cannabis to Denver International Airport
Colorado residents can also get fired for legally smoking reefer on their time off. Or potentially lose custody of their children, even for responsible marijuana use. The authorities have even been trying to put the kibosh on pot clubs that don't sell herb, but do allow on-site consumption.
Which brings up the question of where, exactly, I can roll up and smoke all of the lovely, lovely ganja I purchased on the first day of legal sales. Well, for starters, it's cool to blaze up in any private residence. Also, a few hotels offer 420-friendly smoking rooms.
And that's about it.
Tea Pad Revival
Back in the 1930s and 40s, the hepcats and Vipers who served as marijuana's early adopters gathered at places called “tea pads” to partake of their shared sacrament. Typically informal after-hours affairs, these floating pot parties cropped up in private apartments after the jazz clubs closed. And man-oh-man, those tea pads must have been swinging, what with the whole place baked as cakes, including the musicians, who could freely indulge in their wildest, most experimental improvisations among such highly open-minded fellow aficionados.
Tea pads also served as a neutral space where men and women, black and white, young and old, of all economic means and political persuasions could meet, unwind, intermingle, get high and exchange ideas away from polite society’s disapproving eyes.
In 1938, the New Yorker's Meyer Berger dedicated weeks of leg-work to garnering a coveted invitation to one of these underground cannabis clubs. In “Tea for a Viper,” he finally gained entrée to Chappy's, a dark, austere spot in Harlem with jazz music, muggles, and dancing till dawn. After getting to know the regulars, Berger became convinced that the reefer madness tales of the day didn't hold up to close observation.
Federal agents told me that vipers are always dangerous; that an overdose of marijuana generates savage and sadistic traits likely to reach a climax in axe and icepick murders… Medical experts seem to agree that marijuana, while no more habit-forming than ordinary cigarette smoking, offers a shorter cut to complete madness than any other drug. They say it causes deterioration of the brain. Chappy’s customers scoffed at this idea. They said reefers only made them happy. They didn’t know a single viper who was vicious or mad….
In 1944, a blue-ribbon report on marijuana commissioned by New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia further described the phenomenon.
A "tea-pad" is a room or an apartment in which people gather to smoke marihuana… Usually, each "tea-pad" has comfortable furniture, a radio, Victrola, or, as in most instances, a rented nickelodeon. The lighting is more or less uniformly dim, with blue predominating. An incense is considered part of the furnishings….
The marihuana smoker derives greater satisfaction if he is smoking in the presence of others. His attitude in the "tea-pad" is that of a relaxed individual, free from the anxieties and cares of the realities of life. The "tea-pad" takes on the atmosphere of a very congenial social club. The smoker readily engages in conversation with strangers, discussing freely his pleasant reactions to the drug and philosophizing on subjects pertaining to life in a manner which, at times, appears to be out of keeping with his intellectual level. A constant observation was the extreme willingness to share and puff on each other's cigarettes.
With that spirit in mind, I contacted a friend in Denver and asked permission to use her downtown apartment as a sort of makeshift tea pad for the evening. After assembling an esteemed panel, we put on jazz records, twisted up some reefers, and set about the serious business of assessing all the weed I'd managed to score. Due to the long lines at every open store in the state, I only ended up visiting two locations. And given my limited budget (read bud-get) and the high prices around town, we only had a few strains from each shop to sample. But I didn't hear any complaints.
After assessing the taste, smell, and affect of each variety, we narrowed our choices down to two overall favorites, rolled those up again, and started taking notes. The rest, as they say, was history.
"Golden Goat" from Medicine Man
$61.30 per 1/8 ounce (including tax)
A sativa-dominant hybrid with an Island Sweet Skunk x (Hawaiian x Romulan) lineage, this particular sample of Golden Goat greeted the nose with a pungent blast of citrus. Lime green with copious red hairs, the small, dense buds ground up perfectly due to a thorough cure. Once lit, the joint tasted great from start to finish, with a smooth, even burn. And the buzz felt giddy and cerebral, befitting the strain's sativa heavy genetics.
"Sour Diesel" from 3D Cannabis Center
$17.50 per gram (including tax)
A long-flowering sativa-dominant strain that originated on the East Coast, this Sour Diesel sample produced an almost astringent aroma, with a hint of the grapefruit sourness noted in the name. Although a little dry, the joint burned smooth enough to produce a pleasant taste, and produced a clear, nearly soaring high when inhaled in high doses.