Passengers flying out of Denver International Airport after a vacation or work trip here have lots of choices if they want to squeeze in one last Colorado activity or buy a souvenir. They can drink local craft brews at cafes branded by Rock Bottom and Boulder Beer, eat at Elway's or Steve's Snappin' Dogs, and shop at the Tattered Cover or Kazoo & Company. They can buy Denver Broncos hats, Climax beef jerky, Rocky Mountain T-shirts, and shot glasses and underwear imprinted with the state flag.
But when it comes to Colorado's budding marijuana industry, the only souvenir that tourists can take with them is a photo of DIA's sign prohibiting the herb's use.
"That's what really gets me," says Ann Jordan, who recently incorporated her business, High-ly Legal Colorado, to sell flip-flops, socks and other souvenirs depicting marijuana leaves. "How can you sell the Colorado flag on shot glasses and underwear -- and that's okay -- but not this? I don't know where they're drawing the line."
Jordan says she approached a program manager for Provenzano Resources Inc. -- the company that handles all of the retail lease agreements at DIA -- last month about selling her wares in the terminal. "She was very positive about it," Jordan says. "She said a lot of tourists complain because there's nothing [marijuana-related] at the airport that they can take home."
Those tourists are already frustrated because they can't smoke, vape or eat cannabis products at DIA, let alone bring them on a flight -- so being able to buy a souvenir might be a good way to calm them down, Jordan says the woman told her.
But later the PRI rep said that Jordan's souvenirs wouldn't be allowed after all.
PRI program manager Christy Doyle says the company has no comment on the subject and referred all questions to DIA authorities.
Update: "We did have an employee who interpreted our marijuana policy as applying to all related merchandise and turned down the request," says airport spokesman Heath Montgomery. "However, as we don't have a formal policy, we will be discussing this and decide if such a policy is needed and whether or not we want to allow marijuana promotional products to sell in our retail program."
DIA banned pot possession in 2013 and posted signs reading, "It is unlawful to posses, consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell, transport or grow marijuana in this airport. Violators may be fined up to $999." But the signs say nothing about displaying merchandise depicting marijuana.
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Jordan herself is no stranger to pot souvenirs. Her daughter lives in Amsterdam, and Jordan, a retired teacher, has been buying cannabis socks and boxer shorts as souvenirs for her friends and family for years.
"They're easy to pack, and a great memento," she says. Once retail pot sales became legal in Colorado in 2014, she decided to start selling the souvenirs here. "Plus, I have three grandsons, and they need money for college."
In addition to the socks, Jordan trademarked the design of some cannabis-decorated flip-flops that leave an imprint of a pot leaf in the sand behind you.
At the moment, she's selling the souvenirs online and in a few pot shops, like Caregivers for Life, and in head shops and music stores such as Twist & Shout and Angelo's CDs. She also has accounts in mountain towns like Central City and Manitou Springs.