On January 1st, marijuana was legalized in the state of Colorado for sale to anyone over the age of twenty-one. No medical cards or glaucoma required. I spoke to Connor Bennette, who flew to Colorado just to participate in this historical event.
First, I asked Connor what his experience was like. He described,
"I traveled over 1500 miles to be there. I stood in line for 2 hours yesterday, then showed my ID proving that I was over 21. Then, I legally bought marijuana, candies, and a joint from the store. It was fucking phenomenal."
A two hour wait?
"It was actually really fun standing in line. We made a bunch of new friends, told horrible jokes, and froze our butts off together."
Did it feel dangerous?
"The 'authorities' were worried people would be freaking out or rioting or something. It was nowhere even close to that. Everyone was incredibly chill, peacefully waiting in line together."
How was buying drugs in a legalized setting different than how it is done in places where pot is still criminalized?
"It was super legit, no sketchiness, way safer. There's nothing like trying to 'find a guy' much less even 'having one'. Everyone was mad chill inside [the dispensary]. There were two security guards - one inside the door, one outside, and only a small handful of people allowed inside at a time."
How about quality control?
"They had tons of different strains, candies galore. 'So you want some of these chocolate mints? Now, would you like that in Sativa or Indica?' The control over your 'high' is going to be a seriously awesome change. Much more of a tool, way less of a 'smoke it if you got it' and 'whatever comes along' sort of attitude."
How does the legalization of marijuana effect society overall?
"I said this a couple times yesterday, [I had] tremendous respect for the Coloradoan's 'No Big Deal' attitude. Most people are like yeah, that's cool. We smoke a little bit, whatever. It's not really even a 'thing'. Even for myself, I've smoked the least of my life since being out here. When the marijuana isn't the star of the show anymore, it's back to a secondary / supporting role. In the past, it was so difficult to find, it was such a 'big deal' we'd make an entire night out of the act of smoking. Now, I feel it's much more of a thing to make other activities better."
As a final point, Connor added,
"I've got a great coup de grace 3rd point to talk about too, and that is the taxes. There is a 32% tax on everything I bought yesterday. For recreational marijuana, the taxes are high from the start. [There is a] very good reason for this. It's got to be a money boat from the beginning to serve as a model for the rest of America. What we don't want is someone coming around in a year or two and trying to reverse everything we've accomplished here. Note: for medical marijuana (red cards) taxes are much lower still, and much more in line with other products. However, this is specifically recreational we're talking about today. Now ultimately, once we start seeing the info graphics comparing [the] cost of drug related court costs, prison costs, police, all the overheard - versus the crazy amount of money it's making the local governments – it's going to be a no-brainer."
Thank you to Connor Bennette for this super high interview, and thank you to Colorado legislatures for setting the precedent for the rest of the nation. Smoke up America!
-Kat Vallera, author of "Around the World in 80 J's"