It’s a tour becoming more common in Colorado’s neighboring states. A trip that gives “out-of-towners” the chance to experience legal marijuana.
In Salina, it’s UberDank Destinations. For $420 guests get a ride across the border, a trip to a recreational marijuana dispensary and an overnight stay at a “smoker-friendly” hotel.
Bart Allen is the president of the newly formed company. He also drives the bus.
“I think what we’re trying to accomplish, which is educating people and letting them know things they don’t know about, it’s been very successful from that stand point,” said Allen.
He said their tour is more about medicinal benefits of the drug rather than “getting high.”
“If you want to come get high, just get in your car and drive to Denver,” he said. “You don’t need me.”
Eyewitness News joined the bus in Colorado on their 5th trip on 28th. Part of the tour, three men from Oklahoma.
“Mainly I’m just curious,” said one of the men who wanted to remain anonymous. “I have a family member who is really ill, going through chemo therapy and her doctor said medicinal marijuana could help with the pain and the nausea.”
A man from Norman, Okla., came for a similar reason.
“I came to do some research for a friend of mine who has leukemia and thought I would check it out,” said Sonny Webb. “There are so many different styles, strands, potencies for different conditions.”
The tour bus stops at Medicine Man, a dispensary that sells both recreational and medicinal marijuana. It’s also one of the closest dispensaries to the Kansas border. It’s also one of the closest to Denver International Airport, which may be why they see so many out of state IDs.
“One thing that was really surprising to me was on day one of January first and second, we saw over 650 customers, over half of the IDs we were looking at were from out of state,” said Elan Nelson, who does business strategy and development for Medicine Man. “Today we still see about 300 customers per day and more than half are coming from out of state.”
The group was asked to show their IDs as they walked in the door and was put into the line for the recreational marijuana side of the store. One of the cashiers at the front walked them through the purchasing process and gave them suggestions as to what to buy.
“Say someone’s coming in and they want an energetic high, but they also want to relieve a little bit of pain,” said the man behind the counter. “We got this guy right here, which is Jack Herer 3. And this one’s gonna be great because it’s going to a nice uplifting Sativa, but like I said it’s got some CBD qualities in there and that’s what’s going to manage your pain and make it dealable.”
There are dozens of different marijuana strains grown at Medicine Man, each with a very unique name. Golden Goat, Super Skunk, Alien Dawg, just to name a few, were all given their names by the person who created them.
The cashier tells Eyewitness News, edibles are a big hit for out of town folks.
“Mainly they’re going with the edibles or a quick smoke like a gram or something that they don’t have to worry about having too much left over,” he said.
After all, it is still illegal to take any amount of the drug across the Colorado border.
“We do have people ask every day if they can take it across the border,” he said. “Of course we always say we don’t recommend taking any of our stuff over the border or to the airport because it’s really strict. Once you go across state lines, you’re going to be coming back for a lot of court dates once you get caught.”
Bart Allen said he doesn’t see that as a problem, at least not on his tour.
“Most people are so worried to come over here from Kansas, that moving on to smuggling the next day is really a huge leap,” he said. “We warn and tell them it’s not legal and what the cops do to you will be nothing compared to what my lawyers to you.”
Out of town tourists are allowed to buy up to a quarter of an ounce of pot. Medicine Man said that’s enough for about seven large joints. The average person will buy an eighth of an ounce at a time. For recreational pot, the average price is $44. But that’s before tax. State tax on recreational marijuana is 25% added to the normal sales tax of 2.9%.
“With recreational marijuana certainly they tacked on a lot of things really to fund the regulatory frame work,” said Nelson. “One of the really beneficial things they did was the excise tax. They’re going to take the first 40 million of that and put that towards school construction so we’re really going to be benefitting out communities in a very visible way.”
And those taxes are adding up. Reports show more than 1 million dollars collected in Colorado from marijuana sales in January of 2014, the first month recreational marijuana sales were legal. Any many dispensaries who would like to sell still haven’t been approved to sell for recreational purposes.
For many, prices really aren’t a problem. In fact, prices are expected to go down later this year when demand levels off. Until then, many dispensaries have artificially inflated them in order to make sure their stocks don’t run out.
“I think it’s that experience, it’s something new, it’s something odd,” said Nelson. “Certainly I’ve given a lot of tours through this grow with various reporters throughout the globe really and every reporter wants to take a selfie with the plants. This is new, this is strange, it’s taboo in the state you are coming rom so I think it’s exciting.”