Steamboat Springs dispensary logo

Steamboat Springs dispensary logo Fair Use

After a week in the brave new world of legal marijuana, I am happy to report that civilization as they know it out there does not seem to have come to an end. Last Tuesday, my wife and two of our twenty-something sons hopped a plane to Denver and drove through Rocky Mountain National Park to Steamboat Springs, where the wildflowers were blooming, the aspens leafing out, and the kayakers twisting and turning on the snowmelt-swollen Yampa.

The folks who run the place decided there would be no weed (legally) sold downtown. Smoking anything in public, especially in front of young children, is frowned upon. Indeed, the only visible signs of marijuana culture in the business district were a couple of t-shirts in the window of a clothing store, one a take-off on a Coca-Cola ad, “Enjoy Cannabis / Have a Toke and a Smile” (pronounced tacky by my sons), and the droller “Herb Patrol / elev. 10568 feet / Protecting you since…we can’t remember.”

To get to the nearest dispensary, you drive north out of town, past Elk River Guns and the local Church of Christ, to a warehouse strip called Downhill Plaza (downhill being a positive concept in Steamboat). The storefront under the Rocky Mountain Remedies sign admits you to a joint (as it were) medical-recreational shop — the medical part behind antiseptic glass in the back and, in the front, something reminiscent of an old-fashioned apothecary, with glass canisters full of recreational balls of hemp behind the counter and packages of THC-laced candy on the walls.

The place opened for business January 8, a week after legalization went into effect, and business has been good. The product is 100 percent local, in line with the region’s prevailing culinary farm-to-table ideology. After checking i.d.’s for proof of adulthood, one of the two young proprietors brought out canisters for the sniffing. A couple of grams of Astroboy and Heavenly Haze White Widow and some watermelon sours later, we proceeded to the rather brightly lit head shop a few doors down for a grinder, a lighter, and papers. Altogether, there’s the sense of a long-dry town that has just decided to sell alcohol: legal yes, but not quite proper.

As for the other forms of culture in Steamboat, they’re thriving too. F.M. Light & Sons still purveys the best array of cowboys boots in the Rockies and Lyon drugstore still serves root beer floats and egg creams at its classic soda fountain. The Chief Theatre advertises a full complement of plays and concerts.

On Thursday, Off The Beaten Path, the local independent bookstore, was holding one of its regular members meetings. Upstairs in the beautifully rebuilt Bud Werner Memorial Library, dozens of citizens showed up for “Questions of Faith Religion & Spirituality,” a q-and-a session with a panel of local Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Course in Miracles (but not Church of Christ) clergy.

After our sojourn in Steamboat, we headed back to Denver for the wedding that was our raison de voyager. It was what might be called a Neo-Orthodox Jewish affair, complete with groom’s tisch, bride’s bedeken, and schtick — but mixed seating and dancing. That evening, a bunch of out-of-town boomers and their millennial offspring sat around a brazier of gas-fired coals, joking and reminiscing. A joint was lit and passed from hand to hand. It seemed pretty civilized.

Categories: Culture

Mark Silk

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

26 Comments

  1. Mark, A fun read. I applaud your interest in various religious points of view. The Jewish wedding sounds like a lot of fun. I just hope the wedding photographer didn’t get too stoned as they might end up photographing the mirror ball from 20 angles and forget about the bride. LOL.

    As for me personally, regarding “the evil weed”, been there. Done that. I’d stick to those root beer floats. They sound good enough to me. And at 10,500 feet, that’s high enough for me without the Heavenly Haze.

  2. samuel Johnston

    Recreational intoxication not only predates civilization, it predates man. Unhappily, so does bad judgment, so y’all be careful out there.

  3. ” Smoking anything in public, especially in front of young children, is frowned upon”

    really…you can honestly attest that smoking weed in front of kids id universally frowned upon by all Colorodians from 18 to 88…and any out of state visitors too. Wow ..that is quite a skill….I guess you can also attest that this severe social stigma will never “evolve” with proximity and time. Oh wait….I forgot …you don’t actually care if it does or doesn’t as long as you can rationalize your own choices.

    What a world we live in where liberals scream bloody murder if a someone wants to smoke outside within 10 feet of a building but they have no problem creating a culture where pot use is the norm and kids will inevitably be exposed.

  4. BossIlluminati

    the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

    nothing Christians hate more then gays and marijuana, except abortion…hope they are enjoying the domination by both around the globe, cheers

    1000s of my friends and family have grown 30-99 plants for 20 years, thanks for keeping prices high and NORCAL wealthy…#1 crop in cali = $15 Billion Untaxed…

    “any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death” – cali secret 420

    from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

    20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary….nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states and more blacks are in prison then were slaves before the civil war…even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice…no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol…not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

    Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
    Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
    Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
    Deaths by Guns: Millions
    Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
    Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever…they are killing my American family while denying freedom

    love and freedom forever

    AMERICA’S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS! 33

  5. Pot is no different than alcohol. My state took the step to legalize marijuana and I am very glad of it!. The hysteria over it’s legalization anywhere is greatly misplaced. As a sometime user of medical marijuana I don’t like the high it gives me most times, but it is helpful with my chronic pain issues. What did you expet to find in this city? Everybody high and everything falling apart? Nope, an everyday and normal American city. Most people, as with alcohol, are responsible citizens with their use of it and I have found that to be true with pot as well if not more so. While I do not find the high to be all that impressive I do find it helpful to use it for my chronic pain and am glad of it’s legality so others can enjoy it’s benefits as well.

  6. uhhh…oohhh….USA today is reporting that the Rocky Mountain Poison Control is experiencing a statistically significant increase in the number of calls for children exposed to pot….(and these are only the reported cases that were likely initiated due to a serious health scare)

    I know how honorable Prof Silk is, his concern will immediately switch to the health and well being of these innocent defenseless kids who are just starting in life and he will become a passionate crusader against pot…. just kidding…its the bishops fault….

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  1. […] Marijuana culture in ColoradoReligion News Service, on Tue, 03 Jun 2014 11:56:24 -0700To get to the nearest dispensary, you drive north out of town, past Elk River Guns and the local Church of Christ, to a warehouse strip called Downhill Plaza (downhill being a positive concept in Steamboat). The storefront under the Rocky Mountain … […]

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