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Catherine Durkin Robinson: Visiting Mile-High City yields nostalgic trip

Can you imagine traveling to New York City and not eating a slice of pizza and a hotdog? Spending time in Boston and not sampling some tasty chowder or Boston cream pie? What about Philly? Could you vacation there for a week and not go near a cheesesteak sandwich?

When in Chicago, one must deep-dish it, mustn’t one?

Therefore it stands to reason that if someone is traveling to Denver, someone must sample the weed.

It’s practically a requirement.

I was in Colorado last week and this is exactly the message on every T-shirt, bumper sticker, and welcome center.

The recreational use of marijuana became legal via Colorado voters in 2012. Conservatives lost their minds since they prefer natural highs like the buzz they get after closing a factory or busting a union as God intended. But now aren’t they in a pickle: The taxes levied on pot brokers yielded so much revenue, voters will soon decide whether to return part of those excess taxes to the proprietors of weed dens, or spend it on improving schools, bridges and roads.

I wonder how many will vote to return the money? Like a good conservative would? Not many, I’m sure.

Imagine all we could do with such revenue here in Florida.

Back to my visit …

At first, I was a little disappointed. I imagined Denver Dispensaries to look like a Stanley Kubrick film: lots of colors and confusion. I looked for psychedelic murals on the front of buildings featuring pot plants and mushrooms. Instead, dispensaries looked like any other shop in a strip mall.

Drive down Colfax Avenue and it’s hard to tell the difference between a marijuana shop and a store selling batteries for your cell phone.

Once inside, you must present your driver’s license in order to prove you are over 21. I looked at the bouncer and wondered if all the weed had ruined her eyesight.

Clearly I’m several decades ahead of Justin Bieber and his fans. Then I saw her card a 90-year-old and quickly got over myself.

It’s not flattery; it’s the law.

The door opened, and that’s when the smell hit me.

I closed my eyes and felt immediately transported back to 1993. I smiled at the memory of lava lamps and sandalwood incense burning while crystal-necklace-wearing poets in flannel shirts watched “Dazed & Confused“ on an endless loop.

Then I opened my eyes.

The dispensary looked like my ophthalmologist’s office. Clean and tidy with white counter tops, white shelves and white floors.

A shopper’s assistant asked if it’s “been awhile” and I nodded. She was eager to help. I was happy for the tutorial because I’d read Maureen Dowd’s column about overdosing on weed cookies. No thank you. It’s happened to many newbie potheads. Even worse? Some have killed others and themselves because they went overboard and dosed too high.

And you thought the worst thing about weed was that it made you eat too many Nutter Butters and pretend to understand “The Wall.”

I wanted plenty of assistance to ensure a safe experience.

I smelled several bowls of weed and acted like I understood the budtender’s descriptions of nuances and differences. She reminded me of a hostess at wine tastings. Except with more piercings.

I asked about edibles and she directed me to another room. Three large computer monitors presented dozens of cookies, brownies, candies and gummy bears. I defy anyone to scroll past red velvet cookies called “Love’s Oven” and not let out a little squeal of excitement.

You choose the products you want then proceed to the counter, where they only accept cash. There you receive cookies, joints encased in what looks like pill bottles, or just the buds themselves. They put the products in a bag and you are on your way, happy and safe without fear of arrest or trippy deadheads looking for a miracle.

My budtender’s advice to only take one or two cookies at a time was spot on. I still don’t know the difference between a mellow and an all-body high, but I’m forever grateful to her for suggesting the “less paranoid strand.”

Some things remain the same between a ‘90s buzz and its more modern, and legal, experience. For example, talking like Jeff Spicoli never gets old. Every time you say “The Dude abides” it gets funnier. You can never really love cheeseburgers enough. Oh, and getting up early and exercising the next morning is more difficult than it ought to be.

Weed is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Too much makes you lazy and fat and, oh my, there are more cookies left!

No, this is not something I’d do all the time. But it should be regulated and reasonably priced, for any and all consenting adults. If fast food and guns are legal, then plants should be legal. Our roads and schools and bridges and conservatives would benefit, too.

You don’t have to be high to appreciate that.

Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, and runs a few races. You don’t have to agree with her … but it’d be cooler if you did. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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