The Clever Root

Spring / Summer 2016

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Page 26 of 92

F orget the 49ers, named after Northern California's 1849 Gold Rush. 2016 is all about the Green Rush, and it's not outside the realm of possibility that one day the Colorado Rockies may find themselves re- named after the state's ongoing commercialization and legalization of recreational cannabis. The Colorado Can- nabinoids, anyone? So as the marijuana movement plants roots in Colorado, more and more tour- ists are making their way to the Rocky Mountain state looking for more than just a natural high on top of a mountain. "Since we went recreational in 2014, we've seen a dramatic change in who our customer base is," explains Stephanie Hopper, owner of Ballpark Dispensary in Denver. "About 70–75% of our customers are tourists," she continues. Located two blocks from Coors Field just outside of Downtown Denver, Ballpark Dispensary is uniquely positioned to monitor the trends in Colorado cannatourism, since the home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team is already a natural draw to out-of-towners. "People are interested in the Colorado cannabis experience," says Hopper. "We get a lot of people who are new to cannabis, and are finally at a place where they can have a conversation about cannabis and ask questions about cannabis in a legal, safe space they've never experienced before." With legal marijuana piquing consumers' interest, Hopper tells us there are still some kinks to work out: "The first question we're asked by tourists is, 'Where can I legally consume this?'" For the time being, the answer is pretty limiting: private residences only. As advocates work with legislators to develop a plan for marijuana cafés where cannabis can be safely and responsibly consumed recreationally in public, Hop- per is also working with local hotel and restaurant associations to find new ways to cater to the new cannatourist. "We need to figure out how we can establish a safe environment," she says. "How do we get cannabis out of back alleys and rental cars? Hotels need to start offering something to this audience. If they can't open a marijuana café, maybe they can designate a few rooms for consumption." Some hotels have already implemented such policies, but they're largely hush-hush services available to guests who ask. The "Bud and Breakfast" movement is increasingly gaining traction, and companies such as High There! Hopper (no relation to Stephanie Hopper) have found legal loopholes that allow guests to smoke aboard this 20-seater party bus as it rolls through the streets of Denver. But while some consumers are just looking to light up, Hopper attests that the vast majority of cannatourists she encounters are interested in exploring, experi- encing and getting educated on cannabis. "Education is essential," she explains. "People are coming here to get this experience and to be somewhere they're not alienated and looked at like they're criminals; they just want to experience every- thing that is happening here." And Hopper is on hand to help make their Colorado cannabis experience simple, sweet and properly served: "We've worked with our suppliers to develop single-serving size items because my customers are going to go to the ballpark, have some beers and sit in the sun. I want to control their experience a little bit to make sure it's a positive one—that way, we know they'll be back to experience it again." safe environment," we get and rental offering If they If they If maybe rooms implemented they're available Stephanie Hopper runs Ballpark Holistic Dispensary in Denver, CO. Rocky Mountain High CANNATOURISM IN COLORADO IS ON THE RISE BY RACHEL BURKONS COLORADO CANN BIS 2 6 | t h e c l e v e r r o o t

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