Marijuana: Rolling Stone calls Denver ground zero of "The New Stoned Age"

The June 20 cover of Rolling Stone describes the stars of the new comedy This Is the End as "The Doobie Brothers" -- a notion that ties in well with a special section on marijuana entitled "The New Stoned Age."

Under that label is a headline that reads, "Too High to Fail: Inside Denver's Weed Boom." The accompanying article is a veritable advertisement for the pot scene in D-Town, described as "ground zero for the legal stoning of America." And that's not to mention the piece on hash by our own William Breathes.

TC Labs' Facebook banner.
TC Labs' Facebook banner.

"Too High to Fail," written by Jonathan Ringen, focuses on TC Labs, which describes itself on Facebook as "a collective of like-minded individuals united to improve cannabis concentrates," and Gaia Plant-Based Medicine, an enterprise with affiliated locations in East Denver, Colorado Springs and Berthoud.

Still, what may be most notable about the profile for local readers is the way writer Ringen depicts pot's rise here. Here's his opening paragraph: "Even if you didn't know that Denver has become America's undisputed stoner capital, there are clues. Like the two Jerry Garcia-themed bars. Or the 24-hour-a-day stand-up-comedy radio station. And the too-perfect-to-be-a-coincidence nickname (Mile High City) and NBA franchise (the Nuggets). But even if you didn't pick up on any of that, there's a good chance you'd notice the smell - skunky, green, a little piney -- wafting through an open car window as you cruise along I-25 into town."

Gaia Plant-Based Medicine is featured in the Rolling Stone article.
Gaia Plant-Based Medicine is featured in the Rolling Stone article.

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Later, Ringen acknowledges that "few of Denver's legal-weed entrepreneurs are living like Rick Ross. In the eyes of the federal government, their businesses are still illegal, which makes it tough to get a bank account, let alone credit. And with more dispensaries than Starbucks, prices have fallen to the point where you can buy an ounce of solid herb for as little as $150 -- half of what it would cost in California."

Still, he prefers to end the report on, yes, a high note -- a group sampling a piece of shatter. Ringen writes: "Suddenly, as if a cable attached to your brain was yanked skyward, you're higher than you ever thought a human being could get. This is America's insanely baked future, and, for a few hours at least, the future is kind."

This is the sort of imagery that fires up ganjapreneurs even as it inspires officials such as Denver City Councilman Chris Nevitt to apply the brakes, at least to some degree. In an interview last week, he argued in favor of preventing anyone other than current medical-marijuana-business license holders from launching in Denver until January 1, 2016, due to concern that even supporters of Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of cannabis, may freak out if things move too quickly.

"Citizens voted for Amendment 64 two-to-one," he pointed out. "But nonetheless, I think it's clear that after voting for it, some are still nervous about what this world is going to look like. There's a concern that, 'Oh my God, now that it's completely legal in Colorado, marijuana will just overwhelm our economy and our streetscape.'

"So by having this phase-in period," he continued, "we're basically saying to our citizens, 'The marijuana stores that you see now, the marijuana businesses that are currently operating -- well, that's all you're going to see for the next couple of years. They're not going to take over our streets or our economy.'"

Given how different this take is from the tenor of the Rolling Stone article, don't be surprised if area politicians use the issue as an example of why restrictions are needed to prevent Denver's reputation from being dominated by weed.

Here's a link to the aforementioned William Breathes article, "Crazy-High Times: The Rise of Hash Oil" -- a piece that serves as an intro to more detailed Westword items such as this 2011 hash-tips post. Breathes, by the way, was profiled by Rolling Stone in March -- but unfortunately, that offering isn't online.

More from our Mile Highs and Lows archive: "Highly concentrated: tips for better hash from Colorado's best."


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