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Travel: Ground floor
of a budding industry

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Downtown Denver on the way to Botanico, a marijuana dispensary. | Jim McBee

Downtown Denver on the way to Botanico, a marijuana dispensary. | Jim McBee

One of the nice things about co-owning the magazine is that when you say you want to check out the recreational marijuana scene in Colorado, your boss doesn’t laugh you out of the newsroom.

First things first: Yes, I inhaled. I ain’t no Bill Clinton. But I did have a less hedonistic motive. Recreational marijuana will be on the Michigan ballot in 2016. What’s it like in one of the first states to legalize?

Lisa Schneider, proprietor of Adagio. | Jim McBee

Lisa Schneider, proprietor of Adagio. | Jim McBee

We’ll write a much more serious piece to cover the policy implications closer to the election, but for now, meet Lisa Schneider, 56, from Long Island, N.Y. She describes herself as a mother of five, a former PTA president, “and I don’t smoke.” Her husband, Joel, was a securities attorney for 30 years, and miserable — and he does toke. Over the years, as various states liberalized legal stances on marijuana, the Schneiders wondered how to get into the weed industry. Joel and Lisa kidded around about owning a bed and breakfast. With the 2014 advent of legalized, recreational marijuana in Colorado — and restrictions on where people could fire up — that chuckle turned into a Denver house: Bud and Breakfast at the Adagio.

“A huge hotel was not realistic,” Lisa said. But huge hotels generally do not allow smoking of any sort, and Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes are still illegal in Denver. That left would-be marijuana tourists dry and not so high. “Unless you live here, you have no place to smoke,” Lisa said. The Adagio claims to be the first “cannabis-friendly lodge” in Denver, and is now one of several Denver sites listed on coloradopotguide.com, some of which are private homes available through airbnb.com.

The Schneiders took over the Denver site on April 15, 2014, then established a Grateful Dead-themed site in Silverthorne, Colo., in October 2014, and started a B&B in Colorado Springs in July.

At the Adagio, the Schneiders provide all the paraphernalia you’d ever want on and in a buffet they call the Bud Bar. But by city law, visitors have to provide their own weed. “The city of Denver has been tough,” Lisa said. “They have a million dispensaries” — the implication being that those dispensaries don’t want competition for tourist dollars. Each Colorado community has its own rules about whether marijuana can be sold and by whom. “It seems that they’re making up the laws as they go along,” Lisa said.

Adagio’s Bud Bar has everything you need to get high — except the weed. | Jim McBee

Adagio’s Bud Bar has everything you need to get high — except the weed. | Jim McBee

For all that, legalization has brought a tourism boost, Lisa said. Mostly out-of-staters like me. And a number of journalists; I was far from the first to contact the Schneiders. “We’ve had people from all over the world.”

Lisa says their niche isn’t just pot smoking, but the camaraderie among guests. “Within 20 minutes, you’re not strangers anymore,” she said.

One young Wisconsinite guest who has a high-pressure sales job reveled in the morning relaxation: “Smoke a bowl and have a bomb-ass breakfast?” she said, incredulously. No way could she experience such a thing back home. Other twentysomething couples flew in from Alabama and Chicago. I didn’t get to stick around long enough to experience the full house, though. Early deadline this month!

Jim McBee

Founding partner, creative director and ink-stained wretch with The Ann magazine.

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