Marijuana

Is all the pot being found on forests lands going to marijuana dispensaries?

These days it sure seems like Smokey the Bear and his furry pals have picked up a nasty little habit, what with all the pot being discovered growing in Colorado wilderness areas. This summer $2.5 million of the stuff was found on Sugarloaf Mountain, and now a bunch more has been discovered in the Ralston Creek Wilderness Area.

So what's the deal? Do these stashes have anything to do with the dramatic upswing lately in Colorado marijuana dispensaries? Are wilderness regulars stumbling upon the main source of all that in-demand medicine?

The answer is most likely no. Here's why:

Most of the stuff being found at dispensaries these days is indoor-grown weed, usually cultivated with hydroponics and organic nutrients. Most dispensary goers tend to be pot snobs: If they're going to go to all the trouble to get a medical marijuana license, they want their herbal infusions tended to as carefully as a well-aged Cabernet.

That's why dispensary owners and other ganjapreneurs who are growing the medical marijuana to meet ever-increasing demand are mostly dabbling in indoor facilities. Not only can they be more exacting in their product than with outdoor strains, but they can cram in more lucrative harvests each year. Using a variety of lights and grow techniques, they can speed up each plant's cultivation. Furthermore, the plan is probably safer -- locked away from prying eyes, it's much less likely that a wandering hiker or bird watcher is gonna stumble upon their haul.

Sure, you do find outdoor strains at many dispensaries, but it's usually a small fraction of their spread and often reserved for those looking for bargain-basement meds -- the Kroger of dope, in other words. And while the dispensary owners likely won't admit this, many of these outdoor varieties probably aren't coming from Colorado; instead, the middlemen are said to be going from pot store to pot store selling a suitcase full of ganja grown in California. While messing with drugs coming in over state lines could get dispensary owners into a heap of legal trouble, it's certainly easier getting their wares from these Willy Lomans of weed than risking park rangers snatching up any investments in the woods. And if there's one thing we know about pot smokers, they often don't mind taking the easy way out.

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner