I didn’t go to Colorado for the weed, but if I had it would have been worth it—even from Boston
Nearly three years since Mass voters moved collectively in favor of recreational cannabis, I shouldn’t have to fly across the country to experience the whole kid in a candy store feeling I am waiting for. Yet that is the exact scenario in which I found myself in Denver last week, as I visited several shops while in town for a media conference. (I know what you’re thinking, and I’m just not really into hiking, sorry.)
When it comes to the kind of products I pay attention to, I naturally favor the boutique approach to cannabis cultivation, and I will continue to review the products and experiences that are (slowly) becoming available at rec stores in the Commonwealth. I even checked out a couple of small craft operations in Colorado and certainly commend the independent entrepreneurs going that route. If I can afford their products, I will buy them as a first choice. Here and on the road. Nevertheless, I would be lying if I said I didn’t drool over the idea of a cannabis emporium, something like a Sports Authority for the exercise of getting extremely stoned. In short: the kind of marijuana supermarket that we aren’t likely to get any time soon in these parts.
Before you knock me for the easy comparative criticism, just consider the Xanadu scenario in which I found myself. Of the mega stores fitting the vague description of what I sought in the mountains, none were more inspiring than Oasis in Denver (I went to the location farther west, but either of the two in city limits would have done the trick). Even as someone who has (humblebrag alert) toured commercial grow ops and kicked back at San Francisco dab bars with the Sam Malone of budtenders keeping my bowl warm, the place brings tears to my eyes, all as the cool air fills my nostrils with a rushing unburnt flower effervescence that calms every last nerve in my body. 39-year-old me : shopping at Oasis :: 9-year-old me : diving into Willy Wonka’s chocolate river.
The people helping me seemed to enjoy being and working there. I didn’t get into the details, or ask if they felt valued by their employer, but unlike your average overworked Home Depot helper, they happily and knowledgeably guided me to both categories and specific products I desired. Where are the edibles? The chocolates? The drinks? The motherfucking live resin?! The crew doesn’t just know where everything is; if prompted, they’ll graciously school you on anything from taste to texture. With them holding my hand, I compiled a smorgasbord that featured the following treats among others:
- Taste Budz Watermelon Blast Sativa gummies. At 10mg a pop, these are the modern definition of daily cannabis candy. If not hourly. Smooth, delicious, and affordable at $16/100mg bottle, these gummies also come in indica and hybrid varieties, and get this—they even list the strain. Which I’m sure some pot elitists will say is a lot of nonsense; still, I appreciate the gesture.
- 100mg of coffee and donut-flavored milk chocolate by Coda. One of the higher-end edibles I selected, I guess it tasted swell. And got me sufficiently stoned. Nothing against the chocolatier, I’m just trying to avoid over exaggeration. I bought some other chocolate as well, and it was also quite good. If they ever get to opening a recreational dispensary in Boston, I may make it a habit.
- A $10 grinder with the Colorado seal. I understand that rents are high in Boston and Cambridge, I really do, but the difference in cost between certain accessories online and in a lot of storefronts often seems absurd. By all means show me the light if my mathematics don’t compute, but if I can buy a decent grinder online for like $7, how come the same models cost upwards of $30 in Somerville? Can’t they just buy them online for $7 and sell them for $15? In any case, the fact that I acquired this fine specimen for a mere 10 bucks is more or less representative of Colorado prices all across the board, from sophisticated distillates to blunt wraps.
- And the flower, my first love, which is now conveniently available at Oasis in more flavors than grocery stores have for cereal. I put my faith in a pinch of Blackberry Kush, another of the potent Cheesel, as well as a few shreds of Sour Tangie, which burned like proper potpourri. The highlight was a Headband Kush.
Plus I got a Glueberry OG joint for a buck for being a first-time customer. It might as well have come from the Denver Chamber of Commerce with an invitation: Move here, if for nothing else, then for dollar spliffs!
You get the picture yet? I know, I’m going to hell for this one. I’m supposed to be rooting for all the small players in Mass. Not the bigs out west! And we will. As soon as I wake up back in Boston.
I really wish I didn’t have the urge to use my time in Denver to indict the Bay State and our Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). But I am inclined to remark on the fact that we are still out in the desert looking for a sprawling Oasis-like facility in Mass, since every time I witness the free flow of cannabis firsthand I am reminded of how pointless the CCC’s conservative tendencies are.
We’re going to have boutique mom-and-pop shops. We’re going to have big box pot stores. For the love of Colorado, please get it done already.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.