Colorado rang in 2014 with a bit of a mellow buzz -- a certain relaxed attitude -- and it was a feeling that lasted throughout the year. Sure, that mellow was harshed by continuing problems with police and sheriff's deputies, as well as a very contested (and expensive) election season. But we also got a few needed civics lessons in the form of same-sex marriage and student protests. In the end, though, our minds remained tuned to the biggest story of the year: legalized marijuana. What will 2015 bring? Who knows? Anything can happen when you're a mile high. For proof, here are our strangest Colorado marijuana stories of 2014, compiled from news sources across Colorado -- including Westword. Or, you can check out all our Year in Review 2014: Strange But True.
Although many government and tourism officials in Colorado are still uncomfortable with marijuana legalization, many businesses hopped on board last year. One of the first was Spirit Airlines, which lit up this advertising campaign in January: "The no smoking sign is off. Get Mile High with $10 off your next flight. Fares so low they're barely legal in some states." It continued: "If you want to make a beeline for Colorado right now, we don't blame you -- but we're up to take you to plenty of chill destinations.... Book today...and be sure to pack some munchies."
In the old days, people liked to steal Corona Street signs because of their reference to beer. But times have changed, and in January, the Colorado Department of Transportation got tired of replacing I-70's 420 mile-marker sign, located about 25 miles west of the Kansas border, which kept getting stolen. In its place, workers installed a mile 419.99 sign.
Lots of people from outside Colorado weighed in on this state's legalized pot in 2014, everyone from talk-show hosts to newspaper pundits, comedians, musicians and politicians -- like the Pennsylvania lawmaker who took an official trip here to smoke up. But New Jersey governor Chris Christie prompted the biggest outcry when he bashed marijuana legalization in April and took a few pot shots at Colorado while he was at it, saying, "Go to Colorado and see if you wanna live there. Head shops popping up on every corner and people flying in just to get high." It was enough to inspire even our own pot-disapproving governor, John Hickenlooper, to fire back at Christie with a list of eight reasons why Colorado is better than New Jersey.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd flew to Denver to get stoned -- and boy, did she ever, writing a column that was widely mocked for its childlike naiveté. Please don't eat more than one large pizza, either, Maureen, or you might get a tummyache. Here's an example of Dowd going to pot after eating an edible: "I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn't move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn't answer, he'd call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy."
The Denver Broncos faced off against the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl last February, and although the results of that game were infinitely forgettable for Denver fans, the rest of the country will remember the game for its various nicknames: the Pot Bowl, the Stoner Bowl and so on. The joke caught on because Colorado and Washington were the only two states at the time to have legalized recreational marijuana.
On a visit to Denver in July, President Barack Obama was walking through a crowd when a man asked, "Do you want a hit of this
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?" Obama laughed (but didn't say "No"), and the video went viral. The president did stop for beers at the Wynkoop Brewing Company on the same trip.
The Denver police and some media outlets whipped residents into a frenzy in the days before Halloween with dire predictions about people dropping THC-infused edibles, many of which look exactly like real candy, into the bags of unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. The DPD even poured out the paranoia on Facebook, posting images of regular candy -- like chocolate bars, gummy bears and lollipops -- and similar-looking THC edibles side by side. "Can you tell which candy is a marijuana edible?" the photos asked. That question mirrored one posed by local nonprofit Smart Colorado on billboards around town. But after all that fearmongering (the story went national and international as well), there wasn't a single report of a kid being dosed with anything but sugar.