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Denver's True Priorities Show When Worried About No Weed, Booze

The line outside of Denver Kush Club after Mayor Michael Hancock’s original order to close dispensaries at 5 p.m. March 24.EXPAND
The line outside of Denver Kush Club after Mayor Michael Hancock’s original order to close dispensaries at 5 p.m. March 24.
Thomas Mitchell

As part of a citywide order to stay at home to limit the spread of coronavirus, on March 23 Mayor Michael Hancock announced that recreational marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores would be among the businesses that must close at 5 p.m. on March 24 and remain closed for over two weeks, to discourage large gatherings of people.

So what did the people do immediately after the announcement? Gather in large groups.

Hancock's original executive order deemed that liquor stores and recreational pot shops weren't essential in the same way that grocery stores, hardware stores or medical marijuana dispensaries were. But they seemed pretty essential to panicking customers, and as the lines started forming, Hancock changed his mind...or at least clarified his order.

Because maybe opening a 24-hour window when all Denver residents would have to buy their liquor and weed for the next two and a half weeks was a bad idea.

Just hours after calling for no more liquor or retail pot sales, Denver announced that both types of business categories could remain open as long as extreme social-distancing practices were enforced; per Governor Jared Polis's March 22 order, recreational dispensaries can only serve customers via curbside pick-up for now.

If Hancock's original order was inspired by the sight of people playing volleyball in the parks last weekend, the vision of Denverites flocking in herds like their toilet-paper-hawking ancestors to pot shops and liquor stores most have been even more horrifying. Check out some photos tweeted by participants of the madness below.

Customers flocked to a Starbuds dispensary in metro Denver.

Argonaut Liquors had hundreds of people wrapped around the block after Hancock's order on March 23.

Because of social distancing, the lines were even longer than a normal cluster, like this gathering outside of a Green Solution in downtown Denver.

Small liquor stores were feeling the pressure, too, which quickly spilled into their surrounding neighborhoods.

The flood of panic buying extended into metro and suburban communities, as well, even though they were not affected by Hancock's order. Look at the line outside of Chronic Therapy, a Wheat Ridge dispensary.

Some of these lines even led to the alleyway, the unofficial dispensaries of another time.

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By the looks of it, a lot of these lines — especially those in crowded parking lots with little sidewalk support — weren't practicing social distancing very well.

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