Patriots fans in Denver for game scoring plenty of legal pot

No matter how the AFC Championship game between Denver and New England turns out, the Broncos playoff run will turn out well for Justin Staley. Why? Staley's an owner of Mile High Medical Cannabis, whose location, at 1705 Federal Boulevard, is only steps away from Mile High Stadium. Last week, plenty of San Diego Chargers fans in town for their match-up stopped by the shop to take advantage of legal recreational pot sales -- something that presumably helped them deal with a 24-17 loss -- and visiting Patriots boosters are following suit.

"We had around 225 or so Californians come in" prior to the Broncos-Chargers game, says Staley, whose employees check IDs for each customer. "There were Philip Rivers jerseys all over the place."

Chargers caps were in evidence, too, as witnessed by the guy on the right in this photo from MHMC's Facebook page, which also features a glimpse of his pal's San Diego T-shirt:

The trend has continued with New Englanders who've traveled to Denver to watch Tom Brady face off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. As of midday yesterday, Staley says his staffers had seen 78 people with Massachusetts IDs, and you can bet plenty of others will be stopping in between now and Sunday, following an article in the Boston Herald about Pats fans purchasing weed in advance of the big game; it focused on the shop and included quotes from Staley.

The Herald piece has added even more chores to Staley's day. When we reached him, he'd already been contacted by numerous news outlets, and 7News had just done a live remote for its 11 a.m. Thursday newscast. But given the whirlwind since January 1, when Mile High Medical Cannabis kicked off recreational sales with two-hour lines, he's grown accustomed to the rush. And he understands why Bostonians in Colorado have been taking advantage of the laws here.

"They've made medical allowances there, and they're talking about recreational for 2016," Staley points out. "But when people come here, they want to be part of history. They're excited about it. And if you're involved in this industry, you're all about the movement."

With that in mind, the Mile High Medical Cannabis crew has been very welcoming to all the people who've been stopping in wearing Patriots gear, even though most employees are big Broncos fans -- with one significant exception. "We've actually got a budtender who's a Patriots fan," Staley reveals. "I don't know why, but he said he was going to wear his Patriots jersey on Sunday." He laughs as he admits to telling him, "That's against the dress code."

As for the Broncos lovers on the payroll, Staley acknowledges that "there's been a lot of biting of the lip this week" when customers arrive in full Pats regalia. "But everyone's been super-friendly. They're just excited to have a place to consume cannabis legally, and they're not causing any problems. There have been no fights or altercations between Broncos fans and Patriots fans outside our store."

Such peacefulness is in stark contrast with the beating of a Broncos fan in San Diego after the Chargers' loss -- an incident at a SoCal watering hole caught on video. "I felt sorry for that gentleman," Staley says. "Maybe if they had recreational cannabis in California, they would have been able to avoid that. But they're limited to medical in California. Not everyone can partake."

Until then, big games at Mile High Stadium are likely to bring lotsa out-of-state visitors to Mile High Medical Cannabis.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Videos archive: "Chargers backers' post-game beating of Broncos fan caught on video: Stay classy, San Diego."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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