Denver is a tightly packed pot community, with a exploding number of medical marijuana dispensaries (about 250 in Denver and over 400 in the state, according to WeedMaps.com) as well as voter-approved tolerance for recreational use.
The Mile High City has the marijuana-themed entertainment to match, from song-and-dance shows to outrageous stand-up comedy, “Legalize it!” concerts and pot-themed conventions and festivals. But when the smoke clears, is it a good thing when our pot culture becomes pop culture, when the “high” in the Mile High City is the punch line of national jokes? Are we just cementing lazy stereotypes, or are we actually evolving our attitudes about marijuana? For the most part, Denver’s pot culture still follows the tired cliches about forgetful, cotton-mouthed stoners and pot’s exaggerated reputation as a psychedelic drug. But some argue that weed-themed culture doesn’t have to make grand statements.
On Aug. 21, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park home of the Mile High Music Festival will host the Cannabis Festiva, with music from No 1 Left Standing, Statewide Emergency and other weed-friendly acts. Of course, outside of the planned pro-legalization speakers, the event seems an excuse for local bands to party under the weed banner. A week after that, Equinox Theatre Company will open its own version of the “Reefer Madness” musical based on the cult 1936 propaganda film for a three- week run at Denver’s Bug Theatre.
Marijuana-seed king and hemp-clothing purveyor Adam Dunn even relocated parts of his $3 million-per-year business from Amsterdam to Colorado four months ago to take advantage of the burgeoning weed culture. Dunn has the connections to seal Denver’s budding reputation as a pot city. As Denver’s marijuana culture starts to rival better-known pot cities such as Los Angeles and Vancouver, some think it’s not a fluke. “Colorado has always had a reputation for cannabis connoisseurship prior to this, and then now with the laws loosening a bit they can really play that up,” said Danny Danko, senior cultivation editor for High Times.
It’s an optimistic goal, and pot smokers are ultimately a diverse group. But as much as pot culture has grown lately in Denver, Ii may very well become the Amsterdam of the United States.