Newbie marijuana buyer? We've got some advice for you

Newbie marijuana buyer? We've got some advice for you

Credit: KING

Newbie marijuana buyer? We've got some advice for you

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by Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

NWCN.com

Posted on July 8, 2014 at 8:07 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 8 at 8:07 AM

DENVER — In light of Washington's start Tuesday of legal marijuana sales, USA TODAY asked Colorado experts for suggestions on how newbie marijuana buyers should proceed. We've edited and condensed the answers for clarity and space.

• Ask the budtender — yes, that's what they're called how strong the marijuana is.

How long might the high last? Should I smoke this or vaporize? How much of this edible should I eat? How long should I wait if I don't feel anything? How was it grown? Did the grower follow organic procedures or dose it with pesticides?

In Washington, all marijuana and edibles must be tested for quality and additives.

"You'll know exactly what you're getting, and what was applied to the product," said Brian Smith, spokesman for the Washington State Liquor Control Board, which also regulates marijuana.

Related: List of pot retailers in Washington state

Related: Map of Washington state marijuana retailers

• Don't be afraid to price shop. Prices in the first few days or even weeks will likely be distorted as buyers flock to stores.

In January, some Colorado marijuana stores saw empty shelves and short supply because of high initial demand that drove prices upward of $600 an ounce. However, this past weekend, one chain of stores was selling high-quality marijuana bud for $85 an ounce.

"It's all about who you have behind your warehouse. A lot of people here focus on bulk over quality, and it's widely recognizable," said Michael Morones of Mile High Green Cross of Denver, which bills itself as a premium medical-marijuana store.

Mile High Green Cross now sells most strains for $200 an ounce, not including taxes. Oh, and get used to paying taxes on your weed.

It's the trade-off for having a regulated, safe environment in which to buy.

• Don't stress out at first over the exact strains available if supply is low. Sativa strains tend to give a more cerebral high, while indica strains tend to give an "in da couch" high that relaxes the body.

But both have wide variations. Again, making the comparison to alcohol, experts say inexperienced users probably won't be able to tell strains apart until they've had a chance to try them side by side.

Along those lines, because how the strains are grown has much variation, two genetically identical strains could have significantly different effects.

"Let's be honest, new users are really only going to feel high, they won't have a taste or feel for the differences yet," said Lucas Fiser, a columnist for the Denver Post's Cannabist section.

• Don't think that edibles are the safest way to start. You don't take your first drink with 190-proof Everclear; you start with something easier, like beer.

"Take it slow and easy at first to learn how your body responds," said Kristen Mastre, a longtime marijuana user, mother of two and blogger for Budding Fort Collins. "You don't need to smoke an entire joint your first time. That's like drinking a full six-pack in one sitting."

• Don't take it out of the state. No, really, cops just across the Washington borders will be watching.

While it remains illegal to pull someone over just because a cop suspects a driver might be carrying marijuana, we've heard scattered stories of police in border states singling out people with Colorado license plates for extra attention.

Remember: While it's legal to buy marijuana in Washington state, it remains illegal in all of the border states. And no, telling the cops you paid taxes on it won't sway them.

But airport security screeners aren't looking for marijuana, at least in Colorado. This year, the Transportation Security Administration has caught just 10 people with pot in their carry-on luggage at Denver International Airport. All threw it away at the request of police and were allowed to board.

"Generally, we are not seeing this as a major problem," airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said. "We have about 53 million passengers each year, so the number of contacts is extremely low, and everyone has complied with the rules when asked."

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