Weed occupies a weird place in Colorado Springs. It's legal to smoke in private, thanks to the state constitutional amendment voters passed in 2012, but that's not so easy for visitors, especially, to pull off. There are no recreational pot shops inside city limits because of a contentious City Council vote in 2013 to "opt out" of that side of the biz. (Bummer, don't we know.)
Residents can grow six plants at home for recreational purposes, though medical patients can grow up to 12 per residence. Council, over the past year, has passed new local laws that regulate indoor home grows of all kinds (not just weed plants) that stipulate safe electrical wiring, ventilation and other safety considerations. But, if you do it right, you can still grow, baby, grow.
You'll still see plenty of green crosses that adorn medical marijuana centers around town, but you'll need a valid in-state red card to make purchases there. So if you're the kind of pot tourist without documentation of chronic pain then take a hike ...
... To Manitou Springs, that is. On Manitou Avenue near Highway 24, find a retail branch of Maggie's Farm (141 Manitou Ave., maggiesfarmmarijuana.com) and Emerald Fields (27 Manitou Ave., emeraldfields.com) — the only two recreational pot shops in El Paso County. They've got pretty much anything you could ever want, weed-wise: a wide selection of strains, edibles and novelty products like bath salts. If you're the required 21 or older, get ready to show your ID multiple times and pepper your budtender with questions that inform your purchase. Just don't smoke on-site.
Where tourists can legally partake is somewhat tricky, given that public consumption is a no-no and it's against the law in parks and on federal lands. Of course, it's up to you (and your Fear and Loathing-style attorney) to decide whether smoking a joint in the great outdoors is worth the risk. We'd understand if it is, but don't come crying to us if you get ticketed. As for private 420 venues, there are some motels on the strip near the two rec pot shops, like Avenue Hotel Bed & Breakfast (711 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, avenuehotelbandb.com), that may welcome you. Or, make friends who live here and light up in their living room. You could also head to any of the dozen or so clubs, if they haven't been shut down by the time you read this.
(The City has banned these clubs and, last we heard, eager to up enforcement. State lawmakers are also looking to regulate consumption clubs in a way that doesn't necessarily bode well for our pioneering local businesses. If you're a tourist and the lack of social toking spots is a buzzkill, maybe let our lawmakers know, OK?)
But, if doors are still open at press time, may we recommend My Club 420 on the Northside (6628 Delmonico Drive, Suite A, myclub420.com); Studio A64 downtown (332 E. Colorado Ave., studioa64.com); Canna Canyon (1507 W. Colorado Ave., facebook.com/cannacanyon) or the One Love Club (212 S. 21st St., coloradorastafari.org) on the Westside; and the Dab Lounge (1532 N. Circle Drive, facebook.com/thedabloungeco) or Speakeasy Vape Lounge (2508 E. Bijou St., speakeasycannabisclub.com) on the Eastside. These are members-only clubs (except for One Love, which is a Rastafari community center), so you joining for the day may require a donation.
All right, assuming you're savvy enough to procure and consume some pot (go here if you need more info: tinyurl.com/pot-in-cssprings), there's plenty to do that appeals to the altered senses.