My First Trip to a Legal Cannabis Dispensary

For cannabis smokers, the drive en route to a legal marijuana dispensary is filled with anticipation similar to that of a kid on his way to Disney Land. As a resident of the Lone Star State, the words “legal” and “marijuana” never collide. For this reason, I was unaware of the treasures that may await at one of Colorado’s legal marijuana dispensaries. I imagined there would be rows upon rows of fragrant, budding plants sitting underneath bright, white lights; maybe even a little green fairy frolicking around, tending to them with a watering can. What I found at Strawberry Fields in Pueblo, Colorado was much more laid-back, but just as cool.

Strawberry Fields dispensary in Pueblo, Colorado (Photo: Sara Cantu)

Walking into one of Colorado’s legal marijuana dispensaries isn’t unlike entering a doctor’s office, at first. We were asked to wait in the lobby, as dispensaries are only allowed to accommodate one group per “budtender”. There are chairs. There is an awkward silence. There is someone behind the glass. What you’ll also find is an armed security guard checking I.D.. The one who greeted me, my brother and two friends was friendly enough. Aside from the comfortable armchairs and small side tables filled with pamphlets, there was also an ATM machine – a major convenience for someone who wants to buy weed, but doesn’t usually carry cash. Many of Colorado’s marijuana dispensaries are “cash only”. It makes sense.

Once the party before us was done, we were invited to enter a small room, close in size to the counter area at a gas station. Marijuana-themed artwork filled the walls. To the left of me was a tall shelf filled with rows of tiny, just-budding plants. Behind the counter were two dudes, “budtenders” who immediately asked us where we were from, and what we were in the mood for. Dozens of cannabis-filled jars sat behind the counter, each labeled according to strain. Underneath them were two rows of brightly colored packages filled with treats you might find at Willy Wonka’s factory, if Willy Wonka liked to get high.

Assortment of Cannabis at Strawberry Fields (Photo: Sara Cantu)

As a frequent cannabis smoker, but one with little knowledge of the wide variety before me, I asked for a recommendation. The budtender selected one called “Space Cream” and slid it across the counter for me to smell. One whiff was all it took for me to excitedly utter “I’ll take it”. Frankly, it could have smelled like cabbage and I still would have taken it, because when someone offers to sell you cannabis, in a completely legal setting, proving wrong everything you thought to be true about the United States and drug policy, you say yes. I also picked up some “Pink Kush” because I liked the way it sounded. The budtender weighed the buds using a scale, then slid them into two separate medicine containers, each labeled accordingly. He even offered me a hefty “locals” discount, which was a really nice gesture, although I would have been happy to pay regular price. The price of legal marijuana is less expensive than the kind you’d buy from a dealer’s house – another joyous discovery I made at Strawberry Fields. The receipt displayed every single tax upon my purchase, and there were many. By the end of the taxes and fees, the receipt looked a lot like those ridiculously long CVS receipts, but is still my favorite one, to date.

My brother, who was kind enough to introduce me to the magic of Strawberry Fields, scooped up some THC-filled chocolates. We had plans to see Batman vs Superman that day, and he said only edibles would do. I thanked the budtenders (profusely) as we left, and off we went, on our very merry way.

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