What to Know About Colorado Dispensaries Before Making the Trip

taking weed out of a jar

The state of Colorado is known for many things; beautiful mountains, stellar craft beer, a killer music scene, but most of all legal marijuana. Ever since Colorado legalized retail marijuana, its tourism skyrocketed. From full blown cannabis vacations at marijuana friendly hotels to marijuana tours, Colorado’s weed culture is a blend of everything people love about the state.

Over the years, Colorado has established a sustainable, compliant, and consumer-driven marijuana industry. The local cannabis market is now a part of the Colorado community. For those planning a cannabis trip to this beautiful state, here is what to expect from the traditional Colorado weed culture.

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The Colorado Way

Colorado Pot Flag

Colorado marijuana is all about changing the perception of legal cannabis. It aims to show the professionalism of the industry and introduce consumers to high-quality cannabis.  Not only does the state hope to provide easy and affordable access to marijuana products, but they are on a mission to offer education on CBD, THC, and everything cannabis to the average consumer. For this reason, Colorado is the go-to marijuana vacation for curious cannabis tourists.

The Size of Colorado’s Marijuana Market

To give people an idea of just how large Colorado’s cannabis market is; there are about 520 recreational dispensaries in the state. In the city of Denver alone, there are about 150 recreational dispensaries. These numbers don’t even include the number of medical marijuana shops in the state. When it comes to finding legal weed in Colorado, consumers don’t need to search too hard.

While Denver does have a multitude of legal shops, the rest of the state’s dispensaries are relatively spread out. Even the mountain towns are stacked with local retail dispensaries. There are so many dispensaries to choose from it can be overwhelming! Don’t worry though, Leafbuyer has a dispensary finder that shows consumers the top dispensaries near them, the shop’s menu, and the top marijuana deals.

Things to Know Before Shopping at a Recreational Dispensary

It is entirely understandable for a cannabis tourist to have a plethora of questions about Colorado’s weed culture and how it works. It can be a bit intimidating walking in a legal shop for the first time but trust us; there is nothing to worry about. Here are the most important things to know before shopping at a retail marijuana shop.

  • Make sure to bring a valid form of identification; drivers license, passport, or state-issued ID. (Must be 21 to enter a recreational dispensary.)
  • Have the form of identification out before walking into the dispensary and keep it out until the budtender takes one final look.
  • Bring cash just in case the dispensary does not have an ATM or cashless ATM.
  • Budtenders are there to help, educate, and guide consumers through the plethora of marijuana products; be sure to ask a ton of questions before making a purchase!

Ultimately, these are the main things a consumer needs to know before shopping at a recreational dispensary. However, there is much more that goes into the Colorado weed culture. From consumption laws to purchasing limits, consumers need to be aware of the legal regulations surrounding Colorado marijuana.

Marijuana Regulations in Colorado

big indoor grow operation

As a consumer, it is essential to know just how much weed you can buy at a time. Not only to ensure you have enough cash to pay for it all but to also stay within state guidelines. While dispensaries are ultimately in charge of keeping consumers within purchasing limits, it is a good thing for consumers to keep in mind while shopping. Aside from purchasing limits, there are various other regulations marijuana tourists need to know.

  • Recreational consumers may only purchase an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana in a dispensary per day. There is no limit as to how many dispensaries a consumer may visit per day.
  • Consumers may only have possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in public.
  • Public cannabis consumption is illegal in Colorado and consumption must be done in private, at a consumption lounge, or in a marijuana-friendly hotel. Do not walk the streets smoking a joint!
  • Even smoking while on a hike is technically illegal in the state of Colorado; especially, in the state or national parks.
  • Driving while high is considered a DUI in the state of Colorado. Just take an Uber or Lyft!
  • Consumers may not shop with an invalid, expired, or damaged form of identification. It must be legible, and the dispensary has the final say when accepting an ID.
  • The transportation of marijuana outside the state of Colorado is illegal and considered a federal crime. Mailing marijuana products is also a federal offense.

Purchasing Limits

Now that the basics of the marijuana regulations are understood let’s take a more in-depth look into the purchasing limits in Colorado. While there is a plethora of different marijuana products, the recreational market bases its purchasing limits off the type of marijuana product being purchased. Some cannabis products are stronger than others. Cannabis concentrates reach anywhere from 60 to 99 percent THC, while cannabis flower only tests around 15 to 25 percent THC.

  • A recreational consumer may purchase 28 grams of cannabis flower at a time.
  • A recreational consumer may only purchase 8, 100mg edibles at a time.
  • A recreational consumer may only purchase 8 grams of concentrates at a time.
  • A recreational consumer may only purchase eight full gram cartridges at a time.
  • A recreational consumer may purchase however many cannabis topicals they please; there is no limit.

Product Equivalencies

Keep in mind; a consumer may only purchase up to 28 grams in total. If someone buys an ounce of flower, they have reached the limit. If they are buying 8 grams of concentrates, they have reached the limit. However, consumers may mix and match marijuana products to equal up to 28 grams. Here is how Colorado’s marijuana equivalency works when purchasing in a rec dispensary.

  • There are 28 grams in an ounce of marijuana, which breaks down to 8, 3.5 grams bags; otherwise, known as an eighth.
  • One gram of concentrates is equivalent to one-eighth of flower.
  • A 100mg edible is equivalent to one-eighth of flower.
  • A 1000mg or full gram cartridge is equivalent to one-eighth of flower or one gram of concentrates.

With purchasing limits like Colorado’s, it is crucial to understand this equivalency. Knowing these limits before shopping allows consumers to mix and match the desired marijuana products properly. If it seems a bit confusing, ask the budtender to guide you through the process.

Common Questions from Cannabis Tourists

grinding up weed

Again, it is understandable to feel nervous when shopping for the first time. Most budtenders are well versed in Colorado’s weed culture and can guide consumers through the new world of legal cannabis. It is common for new consumers and tourists to ask budtenders a plethora of questions while shopping. Here are a few common questions that arise.

  • Do most shops have an ATM available?
    • Yes, most recreational dispensaries do have an ATM in the lobby. It is excellent for when consumers forget to bring enough cash, but it does tend to have a hefty processing fee.
  • Can consumers shop in groups or must they shop individually?
    • Yes, consumers may shop in groups of 4 at the most. Any larger groups will be split up to allow for proper and quality customer service. It is a good idea for beginning consumers to shop together.
  • Are there long lines at Colorado recreational dispensaries?
    • It depends on the location of the dispensary and the time of day. Some dispensaries are always popping and tend to take on a lot of daily traffic. However, many of the large dispensaries have enough budtenders on staff to keep the traffic flowing. It usually will take no longer than 10 to 20 min at the most. Granted, shopping during rush hour or lunch break increases the potential of standing in a line.
    • If you want to skip the line by placing your order ahead of time, download the Greenlight app!
  • Do Colorado recreational dispensaries take credit cards?
    • No, dispensaries are unable to accept credit cards at this time. That may change if the federal government passes federal banking reform in the near future.
  • Are Colorado dispensaries laid-back or fancy retail shops?
    • Most dispensaries are laid-back environments with an educational experience. It is the goal of every dispensary to provide quality marijuana, stellar customer service, and the utmost of discretion to all marijuana consumers. While some shops may seem nicer or fancier than others, the overall shopping experience is almost always a good time!
  • Can consumers smoke in their hotel rooms in Colorado?

Overall, the Colorado weed culture is one heck of an experience. Not only does Colorado have premium cannabis, but its unique product selection is mind-boggling to witness. Plus, getting baked while surrounded by mountains is something to remember!

For the best weed deals in Colorado and around the country, head to the Leafbuyer deals page!

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Justice Council is a freelance writer, CBD specialist, and cannabis enthusiast located in Denver, Colorado. His wide range of experience as a budtender, delivery driver, and CBD sales rep has given him a unique look into this new world of cannabis. Throughout his career in the industry, Justice has written many pieces on culture, economics, product knowledge, and career opportunities within the cannabis space. He takes pride in being part of a truly pioneering industry.