Travelling to the USA and planning on getting ripped? Read this first.
Words and photos by Bones
Marijuana is now totally legal in eight American states, including travel hot spots California, Nevada, Colorado and Alaska. While it remains a divisive issue, many pundits believe it’s only matter of time before the whole country ends its expensive and failed attempt at prohibition. It sounds like a great big bud fest but the reality is very different. A casual toke can still get you in ten gallons of trouble in hard-arse law enforcement states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Not only does the law differ state by state but also county by county. And then there’s the feds who still classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 Drug, like cocaine and heroin. It can be confusing even without a head full of heads.
Up in Smoke
Purchasing is straight forward in the legal states (Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Oregon). You go to a dispensary, flash your ID and a licensed budtender helps with your selection. But each state has very different laws. In Alaska, for example, you can carry up to an ounce no problem, but if you happen to carry it within 500 feet of a school then even a small bud in your dreadlocks could get you five years in a prison. Smoking legal weed is problematic across all states. There are virtually no cannabis cafes or clubs like in Amsterdam. It’s banned in most public and commercial places and many hotels will evict or fine smokers. If you carry or smoke weed on federal land (including many ski resorts and all national parks) you could invoke the full might of federal law. Buzz kill or what?
Know Your Product
Cannabis dispensaries offer a dizzying array of products. Scores of marijuana strains are available by the bag, the ounce or the pre-rolled scoob. There’s every kind of pipe, bong and vaporizer as well as a vast array of THC-infused cookies, gummies, brownies, caramels, and chocolates. Vaping—where the bud is heated up but not burned—is popular as it’s discreet and better for your lungs. Edibles are a hit for similar reasons. But be warned: that cute little gummy bear might give you an intense high that can last up to twelve hours. Popping an edible on your way home from the pub or before a day of heli-boarding is not recommended unless you’re familiar with the results. THC potency should be clearly marked but if you’re unsure start small and wait patiently. And remember: sativa strains will get you pumped; indicas will wind you down.
For the Connoisseur
Colorado is like a discreet Weed-Disneyland. The first state to legalize recreational pot in 2013, it has the most established and varied weed commerce (Denver has more pot stores than McDonalds or Starbucks combined). Mile High Limo Tours will pick you up from the airport, take you to the nearest bud store and encourage you to choof on the way to your weed-friendly hotel (often identified as being 420-friendly). You can book a cooking with cannabis class or get a massage with THC-infused oil. Several companies offer cannabis tours of grow-facilities and outlets and there are several big weed festivals throughout the year. The Denver Post has a regular marijuana review column and a dedicated website, The Cannabist (as seen in the Netflix doco: Rolling Papers). Among the many apps, Leafly Marijuana Reviews has the best reputation. A global resource, it reviews buds and products, guides you to the nearest dispensary and provides the latest updates on legal and medical issues.
Final Tip: Ditch your buds well before you cross a state border or go anywhere near an airport.