A lot has changed in Colorado since 2012, when voters backed the decriminalization of marijuana via Amendment 64. For one, "mile high" puns are now as tired as "Rocky Mountain High" puns, with all due respect to John Denver.
Yes, the first year of recreational marijuana sales was exciting, but the novelty is wearing off. These days, it's a given that there's cannabis to consume, and that partaking adults have better options than a furtive joint in the bathroom.
So let's talk about the buying.
Coloradans can purchase up to an ounce at one time, and tourists up to a quarter ounce. Now, that won't be happening in the Springs, whose City Council has banned recreational dispensaries in town — odds are there won't even be a petition to get a question on the ballot until 2016. Still, to find a rec shop, you don't have to travel out of El Paso County.
Last July, Manitou Springs welcomed
Maggie's Farm (141 Manitou Ave., maggiesfarmmarijuana.com). Though the Maggie's brand — which also includes medical shops in the Pikes Peak region — is built on its outdoor-grown marijuana, the Manitou location is moving wholesale weed until this year's recreational crop is ready to go in late September. In the meantime, the in-stock flower, concentrates, house-rolled joints and limited edibles will rotate. All flower is $20 per gram and $50 per eighth. Colorado residents get 10 percent off everything. Call ahead to see what's available.
Manitou's other option — also its final one, per city rules — is brand-new Emerald Fields (27 Manitou Ave., emeraldfields.com), a self-styled "cannaboutique." It, too, will start off by selling weed from other grows, as well as an array of oils, edibles, hash pen cartridges and merchandise. "We want this to be a one-stop shop for everyone's needs," says director of marketing Caitlin Murphy.
So now that you have your marijuana, where to enjoy it? If treating weed like alcohol is your thing, the Springs has a selection of cannabis social clubs. Take Studio A64 (332 E. Colorado Ave., studioa64.com), which feels like a familiar corner bar or coffee shop. Instead of taps or syrup pumps, the back counter has lighters, grinders, rolling papers and a selection of glassware. It serves cannabis for on-site consumption, plus a small selection of fresh smoothies, coffee and espresso drinks. Patrons can bring food in from El Taco Rey or the Triple Nickel Tavern, both of which are next door. A one-day membership is $5, or you can pay for a month for $30. Ladies get in free on Friday.
If you're into vaporizers or dabbing, check out Speak Easy Vape Lounge (2508 E. Bijou St., speakeasycannabisclub.com). The place prides itself on its dab bar and offers more of a club or party vibe, with regular hip-hop shows. Plus, its snack bar is huge.
Just down the block you'll find The Lazy Lion (2502 E. Bijou St., thelazylion420.com), which offers a free smoking space for anyone 21 and up, plus high-end smoking rigs for paying members. Members can also sign a form allowing the club to grow marijuana for them, with compensation for the club on a per-bud basis. Check its schedule for fight-night broadcasts as well.
Club 710, a cannabis-centric social group ($10 one-time fee for Coloradans, 321/626-9469) meets the last Saturday of the month at Club History Vape Club (2308 E. Platte Ave., goo.gl/muzsAl), where a one-night venue fee for Club 710 attendees is $10.
A brand-new option is the 420 Speakeasy (1532 N. Circle Drive, 420speakeasy.net), which deals in Prohibition-era style and member-made oils. Bonus: It's next door to a Baskin-Robbins.
Since a hotel is really a home away from home, it's only fair that out-of-town smokers have options for weed-friendly accommodations.
The Avenue Hotel B&B (711 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, avenuehotelbandb.com) is a little over a mile up the road from Maggie's and Emerald Fields. They don't allow any flames inside — the building dates back to 1886 — but smoking is fine outdoors. A stay includes a gourmet breakfast, cookies, hot drinks, beer and wine, but let's be honest — it's hard to beat watching the sun set behind the mountains, smoking a joint and then soaking in the hot tub. Adds owner Gwenn David, "It's right in the middle of the historic district; you can't get a better location!"
Right next to Emerald Fields, there's a Comfort Inn (45 Manitou Ave., manitoucomfortinn.com). Smoking is banned in all rooms, but there is a designated smoking area for guests.
Some other small places, like the Blue Skies Inn (402 Manitou Ave., blueskiesinn.com), may not really mind what is being smoked, so long as it's legal and in the designated smoking area. Just do yourself a favor and call ahead. And keep in mind that most larger hotels ban cannabis smoking outright.
Now, far be it from us to suggest commuting while high. But it's possible that you might get hungry after you indulge. So grab your wallet, call a friend or a cab, and listen closely — some places are crying out to you.
For instance, there's only one place we know of that serves fried mac and cheese and offers classic arcade cabinets. That's SuperNova (111 E. Boulder St., supernovabar.com), a place well worth your time and quarters. We could say the same about the Manitou Springs Arcade (900 Manitou Ave., manitouspringspennyarcade.com), but there tend to be families everywhere, and pretending to be sober while a mother of three leers at you (or so you think) is the kind of thing that keeps pot smokers at home. So if you're in Manitou, you may instead want to try Ruffrano's Hell's Kitchen Pizza (9 Ruxton Ave., hellskitchenmanitou.com), home of the mac and cheese pizza.
Downtown, The Cheese Grill (26 E. Kiowa St., goo.gl/VxoH8l) serves killer grilled cheeses, a carnitas sandwich with roasted Hatch green chilies, and perhaps the ultimate stoner offering: the grilled cheese cheeseburger, a cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwich buns.
Up north, try Crave Real Burgers (7465 N. Academy Blvd., craverealburgers.com). Its award-winning burgers err on the side of crazy, but the Luther takes the cake. Allegedly invented by Luther Vandross, this burger is served on two glazed donuts with bacon and a fried egg.
For something a little more upscale, Il Vicino (11 S. Tejon St. or 5214 N. Nevada Ave., coloradosprings.ilvicino.com) has delicious wood-fired pizzas — try the Pollo E Pumante — and solid sandwiches besides. Consider India Palace (5644 N. Academy Blvd., indiapalacecoloradosprings.com) for a rich aloo gobi. Another Indy reader favorite, NaRai Thai (120 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 805 Village Center Drive, narai-thai.com), has great curries, such as a hearty but nuanced massaman. All three of these places also carry local IPAs on tap, which keep spicy, rich food from cloying the palate and feature marijuana's cousin, the hop.
Finally, you could pack your own doobie snacks and head into outdoor seclusion. Red Rock Canyon Open Space (3550 W. High St.) has impressive views and meandering trails aplenty. It's a former quarry, which makes for a strange vista, great for minds to wander.