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Today’s top five things to do in Summit County

Living Room Concert Series

Frisco, Aug. 24

4:30 p.m., Next Page books and nosh, 409 Main Street, Frisco. Join the local legend Randall McKinnon for a laid back late afternoon of music in the comfortable confines of your favorite bookstore! Happy hour drink and food specials and you can even help pick the tunes.

Western Dance Nights

Dillon, Aug. 24

6 p.m., Dillon Amphitheatre, W Lodgepole St, Dillon. Great opportunity for folks to have fun! Learn all styles of Country Western Dancing: Cha-Cha, Swing, 2 Step, Waltz, Line Dances! DJ~Dancing Cowboy! Suggested donation $10.

Lunchtime Lecture

Frisco, Aug. 24

noon, Frisco Historical Park, 120 Main Street, Frisco. “Mining, Skiing, and Summit County Water.” Aside from personal use and consumption of water over the years, historically, two of the major users of water have been the early mining operations and the modern ski areas.

Breckenridge Walk Through History

Breckenridge, Aug. 24

11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. Breckenridge Welcome Center, 203 S Main St, Breckenridge. Enjoy a 90 minuted tour through Breckenridge’s Nationally Recognized Historic District with a local expert. Along the way, hear stories about the hardy souls who lived in Breckenridge more than 100 years ago and enjoy exclusive access to historic homes. Reservations not required. Call for pricing and reservations (970) 453-9767 or www.breckheritage.com.

Open Canvas Painting Night

Breckenridge, Aug. 24

7 p.m., Ready Paint Fire, 323 N. Main St, Breckenridge. Its Canvas Painting Night! Choose from ANY of our fabulous paintings and give it a go! Wine, beer and soft drinks available, bring your own munchies.

To view a full listing of today’s events visit http://www.summitdaily.com/Entertainment/Calendar/

Marijuana vessels: Joints, pipes, bongs, bats and other ways to smoke

If your preferred method of cycling THC through your bloodstream is smoking, options abound for inhaling the heady stuff. These paraphernalia pieces vary in price, depending on where they are purchased and how high-tech they are, but from a standard joint to elaborately artistic glass pieces, you’re sure to find the vessel that suits your needs.

Joints

Easily transportable and discreet, it’s no wonder that joints are still prevalent, despite all of the advancements in smoking technology. Most shops carry rolling papers, blunt wraps and even rolling devices to roll your own joints, or a few, such as the Breckenridge Cannabis Club, sell pre-rolled joints if your fingers just aren’t that nimble.

How they work: A joint is similar to a hand-rolled tobacco cigarette and can be rolled with or without a filter. Crumble or grind whole flowers into smaller pieces, remove any stems and seeds and roll into a rolling paper. Light one end, and take a drag, called a hit, from the other.

Pipes

The next step up from a joint is a hitter or bat, an incredibly simple pipe. Hitters can be made of various materials, but one of the most common is glass.

“A bat is a small, straight piece of glass with a hole on each end, one for your material and one to smoke out of,” said Zach York, processing supervisor at Alpenglow Botanicals.

If you’re looking for something a bit larger, graduate to a bowl-style piece, a glass pipe with a relatively deep bowl fitted with a carb or choke on the side and four or five inches of glass between your face and the end of it. This is one of the most popular vessels for smoking marijuana, a less common style of which is the steamroller.

“Not as many people like those,” York said of the steamroller-style pipe. “It’s a straight tube with the carb at the very end and the bowl at the end of the piece. The only difference is the shape.”

How they work: To smoke out of a hitter, load one end of it, typically the end with the larger flare, by packing the marijuana tightly into it. Light the packed material, and take a hit from the other end. A bowl-style piece works in a similar fashion, with flowers packed into the bowl. If the pipe has a carb, inhale with your finger over the hole on the side of the bowl and release the carb while continuing to inhale to draw the smoke into your lungs.

Water pipes

Adding a water filter to a pipe allows for a cleaner, smoother intake and arguably a more flavorful experience when smoking. The cooling aspect of the water can help eliminate coughing and throat irritation from smoke, York said.

The universal title of water pipe applies to vessels in a range of sizes, from smaller bubblers, which have water filtration at the end of a bowl glass piece, on up to tabletop-sitting bongs.

How they work: Putting your mouth onto the mouthpiece of the pipe creates a vacuum, and inhaling draws the smoke into the chamber, where it bubbles through the water. Once the chamber fills with the desired amount of water-cooled smoke, the smoker can release the vacuum with a carb and continue inhaling to draw the smoke into their lungs.

Vaporizers

The latest smoking technology, for marijuana and tobacco, comes in the form of the vaporizer. Vaporizers are used for smoking both flowers and hash, and the idea behind this pen-style apparatus is to surround the material with heat, rather than combusting it. Butane vaporizers use a metal heating element or wire around a wick, York said, and others use a ceramic heating element.

“The idea is to have as little combustion as possible or eliminate combustion totally,” York said. “The portable vaporizing pens do that as best they can because you’re still loading your material onto a heating coil that gets red hot. There are some heating elements with the vaporizers that come with a built-in metal screen over the heating elements.”

How they work: Marijuana flowers are packed into one end of the vaporizer pen, called the oven, similar to packing the bowl of a pipe. Heat surrounds the flowers and releases the active ingredients in the marijuana as a vapor, which is inhaled through the other end of the pen. Larger vaporizers are constructed differently, but the general idea of decreasing the amount of inhaled smoke is the same.

Year in Review: Colorado’s First Year of Legal Marijuana

On the eve of legal marijuana’s first anniversary, the front lobby at Herbal Bliss in Frisco was almost eerily quiet.

A snow-white husky slept curled in a plush chair while her owner, dispensary manager Dan Blaise, caught up on paperwork behind a nondescript desk, the sort found in a doctor’s office or law firm. The walls around him feature no tie-dyed pot posters or Grateful Dead tributes — just an ad for vape pens and a few printed signs to remind customers about Colorado’s marijuana laws. A handful of local customers pet the dog and flash their IDs before disappearing down a long, narrow hallway leading to the dispensary’s equally nondescript bud room.

Then the crowd came. A group of eight had just flown from central Texas to Keystone for New Year’s Eve, and before heading to the resort, the group’s Summit Express driver offered to swing by the Walmart shopping center. It’s home to just about everything needed for a bash: grub at Walmart, champagne at Antler’s Discount Liquor and, of course, legal pot.

As the Texas group gathered for a photo outside, Blaise set aside his paperwork to greet them at the door. He said nearly half of all visitors simply stop by without making a purchase, just to say they were at a dispensary. Yet some customers come back every day during their vacations, buying edibles one day and pre-rolled joints the next, all while sharing stories about the “old days,” like one man who smuggled trash bags of hash from Vietnam in the ’70s.

Oddly enough, New Year’s Eve was the first slow day at Herbal Bliss since the holiday rush began. Blaise hardly had a free minute to handle managerial humdrum like budgeting and product ordering. But he didn’t mind.

“We get a lot of people saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here, I don’t know what I want,’” Blaise said as he watched the group outside shuffle around for the photo. “But we expect that. You’d think that first-time customers would stop coming in, but some of them are coming back time after time. They just seem excited to be in a dispensary. “

And they were. Like roughly 90 percent of all dispensary customers in Summit County, no one in the Texas group had visited a dispensary before, let alone bought legal marijuana. Three from the group were schoolteachers who simply wanted to walk inside a legal pot shop, and before leaving empty-handed, one admitted he can’t smoke anyway — his employer runs mandatory drug tests.

But the cultural tides are shifting. In little more than a year, marijuana has been decriminalized in four states and the District of Columbia, while 23 states now allow medical use and sales. The Obama administration in February ordered banks to accept funds from legal dispensaries — a sticking point for the cash-only industry — and the Colorado Department of Revenue collected roughly $36.5 million in tax, license and fee revenue from the new industry by October, the latest month for which data was available at press time.

In the same time frame, Oklahoma and Nebraska asked the U.S. Supreme Court to combat Colorado’s marijuana laws, and two Summit County locals have been arrested in other states and accused of trying to sell a combined 431 pounds of Colorado-grown weed.

For Blaise, who returned to paperwork after the Texas group wandered off, those cultural shifts mean one thing: more business than he — or anyone in the dispensary community — ever expected.

“We’ve been way busier than before when we were just medical,” Blaise said. “Weed is becoming the new bottle of wine when you come to the mountains. It’s what you buy for a party or a birthday or just about anything.”

NEW INDUSTRY, NEW HIGHS

Thanks to Amendment 64, Colorado has fast become a beta tester for the American marijuana experiment as a whole. In December 2009, when the first round of medical dispensaries began popping up across the state, roughly 44,000 residents had applied for the medical marijuana registry, including Blaise. They were known as red-card holders, and they were the only folks allowed to buy marijuana under the state constitution.

Just five years and a landmark election later, the industry is wildly different. Colorado is now home to nearly 300 retail dispensaries and 450 medical centers, with the promise of dozens more after the Denver suburb of Aurora approved dispensaries in October. More than 278,000 patients are now on the medical registry, but they hardly account for the bulk of current users.

In July 2014, revenue from retail sales ($29.7 million) overtook medical sales ($28.9 million) for the first time, according to a report from The Washington Post. Factors like a 10 percent special retail tax skew the numbers slightly — medical sales don’t have a special tax — but with access now open to anyone in the state older than 21, local dispensary owners have bolstered their retail operations. After all, just 10 percent of their clientele live and work in Summit County. The rest are like the Texas group: out-of-state visitors who come once or twice a year for vacation.

“The first year was incredible,” said Nick Brown, owner of High Country Healing, the only dispensary in Silverthorne. “I expected it to be big, just a huge change for High Country Healing, but I never saw it growing this quickly. We’ve been fighting to keep up all year.”

Before marijuana went legal, Brown predicted his Silverthorne operation would see a 200 to 300 percent sales increase over 2013. Instead, HCH posted a 400 percent sales increase this year and his staff tripled, growing from nine to 31 employees. The HCH grow site once produced enough cannabis to sell wholesale; now it barely meets demand for the Silverthorne store.

For the town of Breckenridge, marijuana is a bona fide new revenue stream. In-town dispensaries saw $6.1 million in total sales through November, up from $1.8 million in 2013. The three-fold increase brings roughly $500,000 in tax revenue back to the town, according to the town’s finance services manager Brian Waldes. It’s $30,000 short of the town’s original prediction, but he admits no one knew what to expect.

“Keep in mind, we had no history to go on, so we took what medical marijuana revenues had been and made an educated guess,” said Waldes, who noted that no town funds rely solely on marijuana revenue. “But we’re very much like the canary in the coal mine. While it has brought new revenue to the town, I’m not quite sure if the risks were worth it this early.”

NEW YEAR, NEW UNKNOWNS

Despite monthly (and almost weekly) shifts, owners like Blaise and Brown are excited to be on the front line of a burgeoning industry, particularly in a tourist Mecca like Summit County. The local dispensary community is relatively small — nine stores total, located in Frisco, Breckenridge and Silverthorne — but it has outperformed every other mountain community in terms of tax revenue.

In August alone — the tail end of the summer season — Summit County generated roughly $114,500 in marijuana tax revenue, according to numbers from the state. That’s double what Pitkin and Clear Creek counties generated, and nearly triple what Eagle County pulled in.

The local dispensary community continues to grow, even as the state’s marijuana industry hasn’t quite met early predications. In February, Gov. John Hickenlooper said the combined sales from retail and medical marijuana could reach $1 billion in the first year, with the state collecting $134 million in taxes and fees. Since then, he dropped the prediction to $114 million, due in large part to the uncertainties of the rapidly evolving industry.

For Robin Albert, Youth and Family Services Manager for Summit County, those uncertainties are a major concern for children and parents in a community built around play — and party culture. When Amendment 64 passed, it earmarked funds for education programs to keep youth away from the newly decriminalized drug.

“Will access increase because of legalization? This is anecdotal, but there’s the perception that once adults can use something, it’s no longer seen as a completely bad thing,” Albert said. “But our message is always moderation, and when we talk to parents, we let them know they have to be smart about where and when they use marijuana.”

Beginning in early 2015, the department launched a five-year education campaign, funded in part by tax revenue from local dispensaries. The campaign, known as Healthy Futures Initiative, will gather information on the impact marijuana has had on local youth and the community. The results will help the department fill a basic, vital need for more data on legal weed, Albert said.

In the meantime, the cultural tides keep shifting and the industry keeps evolving in turn. Albert and her colleagues regularly receive calls from agencies along the East Coast for tips on how to tackle legal marijuana education. HCH has plans for a 20,000-square-foot grow space to meet demand for wholesale product across the state.

For Blaise, those shifts mean more paperwork. But he doesn’t mind. In just a year, he’s gone from selling 2 or 3 ounces of bud per day to several pounds, and he looks forward to complete legalization.

“I think it’s kind of cool,” he said of the Colorado pot industry. “Hopefully it will be legal everywhere. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

BREAKING: Fairplay crash kills one Friday night, injures Breckenridge man

One man died and two others, including a Breckenridge resident, were severely injured when two vehicles collided head on along State Highway 9 near Fairplay on Friday evening, July 29.

The wreck took place at approximately 6:30 p.m. near mile marker 67, according to Colorado State Patrol.

Kelly Boston, 47, visiting from Ennis, Texas, was behind the wheel of a 2011 GMC Acadia heading north along the two-lane roadway when his vehicle was struck by a southbound 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Jose Hernandez of Fairplay. Boston attempted to swerve to the right when the two met, sending the pickup rolling once and also off the right side of the road.

Boston — who, according to the CSP report, was not wearing a seat belt — died at the scene, while his 46-year-old passenger, Michael Howard, was rushed by Flight For Life to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver with serious injuries. Hernandez and his front-seat passenger, 34-year-old Agustin Hernandez of Breckenridge, were uninjured, but a rear passenger not wearing his seat belt, Eduardo Rios, 34, of Breckenridge, was transported by air to Denver’s St. Anthony as well also with serious injuries. As of Monday afternoon, the hospital listed both Howard and Rios in fair condition.

Alcohol and drugs are not suspected in the crash.

Marijuana explained: What are concentrates and how are they used?

Some of the products local recreational marijuana stores get a lot of questions about are concentrates. Concentrates, commonly called hash, are exactly that — a concentrated substance created from marijuana flowers that provides a more immediate, more intense effect for THC consumers.

“Some people say it’s better for their health or lungs because they feel like they don’t need to smoke as much to get the same effect,” said Zach York, processing supervisor at Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge. “Flavor is probably another factor — concentrates can be pretty flavorful.”

Bubble hash

Concentrates come in different forms, based on what solvent is used to create them. Classic hash, or bubble hash, is produced using a water solvent. It’s is a tar-like, black substance of varying consistency from the rock hard, pressed form to powder form, which is gummy and sticky.

“It’s popular because it’s easier to consume than the other ones,” York said, referring to other styles of hash. “Just put it into a glass piece and light it up.”

Butane hash

Another variety of concentrate is butane hash, which is created by running liquid butane through a tightly packed tube of buds. As the liquid comes out, it evaporates away and then the butane is further purged using heat, York said. This process results in different consistencies of butane hash.

The first, called shatter, has a concrete, rock-hard density. Shatter is clearer looking with some translucence to it, and it’s popular for its visual appearance and flavor, York said. A second form of butane hash is liquid butane hash oil, which is mainly used for vaporizing out of portable vaporizing pens. Wax, or butter, is another style.

“Fitting to the name, it has a really waxy consistency and will get all over your fingers,” York said. “It looks like a little chunk of butter and it comes right off and you can spread it on anything.”

Butane hash is consumed through a process called dabbing. A quartz or titanium piece called a nail fits into a classic water pipe, or bong, in place of the flower bowl that’s normally there. Using a small torch, the nail is heated, and then the wax is touched onto the nail using a dabbing tool. As the hash wax comes in contact with the nail, it immediately sublimates and is inhaled through the water pipe.

Companies have also developed e-nails, York said, which plug into the wall. The e-nail contains a small power box converter that attaches to the nail and heats it, eliminating the need for a torch.

Other kinds of hash

Other, less common, types of concentrates are extracted using carbon dioxide or isopropyl alcohol as a solvent. This results in a black liquid that’s generally not quite as flavorful as the bubble or butane varieties, but there are exceptions, York said.

“It’s not as prominent,” he said. “There’s not a ton of knowledge about or people making those varieties.”

Colorado mountain town marijuana industry worth millions after one year

On the eve of legal marijuana’s first anniversary, the front lobby at Herbal Bliss in Frisco was almost eerily quiet.

A snow-white husky slept curled in a plush chair while her owner, dispensary manager Dan Blaise, caught up on paperwork behind a nondescript desk, the sort found in a doctor’s office or law firm. On the walls around him, there are no tie-dyed pot posters or Grateful Dead tributes — just an ad for vape pens and a few printed signs to remind customers about Colorado’s marijuana laws. A handful of local customers pet the dog and flash their IDs before disappearing down a long, narrow hallway leading to the dispensary’s equally nondescript bud room.

Then the crowd came. A group of eight had just flown from central Texas to Keystone for New Year’s Eve, and before heading to the resort, the group’s Summit Express driver offered to swing by the Walmart shopping center. It’s home to just about everything they need for a bash: grub at Walmart, champagne at Antler’s Discount Liquor and, of course, legal pot.

As the Texas group gathered for a photo outside, Blaise set aside his paperwork to greet them at the door. He says nearly half of all visitors simply stop by without making a purchase, just to say they were at a dispensary. Yet some customers come back every day during their vacations, buying edibles one day and pre-rolled joints the next, all while sharing stories about the “old days,” the manager says, like one man who smuggled trash bags of hash from Vietnam in the ’70s.

Oddly enough, New Year’s Eve was the first slow day at Herbal Bliss since the holiday rush began. Blaise has hardly had a free minute to handle managerial humdrum like budgeting and product ordering. But he doesn’t mind.

“We get a lot of people saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here, I don’t know what I want,” Blaise says as he watches the group outside shuffle around for the photo. “But we expect that. You’d think that first-time customers would stop coming in, but some of them are coming back time after time. They just seem excited to be in a dispensary. “

And they were. Like roughly 90 percent of all dispensary customers in Summit County, no one in the Texas group had visited a dispensary before, let alone bought legal marijuana. Three from the group were schoolteachers who simply wanted to walk inside a legal pot shop, and before leaving empty-handed, one admitted he can’t smoke anyway — his employer runs mandatory drug tests.

But the cultural tides are shifting. In little more than a year, marijuana has been decriminalized in four states and the District of Columbia, while 23 states now allow medical use and sales. The Obama administration in February ordered banks to accept funds from legal dispensaries — a sticking point for the cash-only industry — and the Colorado Department of Revenue collected roughly $36.5 million in tax, license and fee revenue from the new industry by October, the latest month for which data are available.

In the same time frame, Oklahoma and Nebraska asked the U.S. Supreme Court to combat Colorado’s marijuana laws, and two Summit County locals have been arrested in other states and accused of trying to sell a combined 431 pounds of Colorado-grown weed.

For Blaise, who returns to paperwork after the Texas group wanders off, those cultural shifts mean one thing: more business than he — or anyone in the dispensary community — ever expected.

“We’ve been way busier than before when we were just medical,” Blaise says. “Weed is becoming the new bottle of wine when you come to the mountains. It’s what you buy for a party or a birthday or just about anything.”

New industry, new highs

Thanks to Amendment 64, Colorado has fast become a beta tester for the American marijuana experiment as a whole. In December 2009, when the first round of medical dispensaries began popping up across the state, roughly 44,000 residents had applied for the medical marijuana registry, including Blaise. They were known as red-card holders, and they were the only folks allowed to buy marijuana under the state constitution.

Just five years and a landmark election later, the industry is wildly different. Colorado is now home to nearly 300 retail dispensaries and 450 medical centers, with the promise of dozens more after the Denver suburb of Aurora approved dispensaries in October. More than 278,000 patients are now on the medical registry, but they hardly account for the bulk of current users.

In July 2014, revenue from retail sales ($29.7 million) overtook medical sales ($28.9 million) for the first time, according to a report from The Washington Post. Factors like a 10 percent special retail tax skew the numbers slightly — medical sales don’t have a special tax — but with access now open to anyone in the state older than 21, local dispensary owners have bolstered their retail operations. After all, just 10 percent of their clientele live and work in Summit County. The rest are like the Texas group: out-of-state visitors who come once or twice a year for vacation.

“The first year was incredible,” says Nick Brown, owner of High Country Healing, the only dispensary in Silverthorne. “I expected it to be big, just a huge change for High Country Healing, but I never saw it growing this quickly. We’ve been fighting to keep up all year.”

Before marijuana went legal, Brown predicted his Silverthorne operation would see a 200 to 300 percent sales increase over 2013. Instead, HCH posted a 400 percent sales increase this year and his staff tripled, growing from nine to 31 employees. The HCH grow site once produced enough cannabis to sell wholesale; now it barely meets demand for the Silverthorne store.

To the south, Breckenridge Cannabis Club on Main Street has gone through similar shifts since 2013. Owner Caitlin McGuire says her staff has quadrupled, with 30 employees now spread among four businesses, including the flagship dispensary and a grow site nearby on Airport Road. She wouldn’t comment on profits, but she said the business is thriving.

BCC become the unofficial public face of marijuana last year on New Year’s Day, when people waiting to buy their first batch of legal weed formed an hour-long line down the heart of Main Street.

But again, tides are shifting. The cozy, iconic shop suffered a business blow in December when the Breckenridge Town Council decided to temporarily ban all dispensaries along Main Street, siding with voters in a special advisory election. BCC must move by Feb. 2, and McGuire says she and fellow owners have decided to run their new dispensary near the grow site on the west end of town, home to the four other Breckenridge dispensaries.

“I enjoy being part of the industry, but I can’t say I enjoy the volatile nature of the industry,” McGuire says of the past year. “Our team has grown, but now, if something happens to us, it doesn’t just happen to a couple of owners. It affects everyone, and I think everyone in the industry has gone through the heartbreak we have.”

For the town of Breckenridge, marijuana is a bona fide new revenue stream. In-town dispensaries saw $6.1 million in total sales through November, up from $1.8 million in 2013. The three-fold increase brings roughly $500,000 in tax revenue back to the town, according to the town’s finance services manager Brian Waldes. It’s $30,000 short of the town’s original prediction, but he admits no one knew what to expect.

“Keep in mind, we had no history to go on, so we took what medical marijuana revenues had been and made an educated guess,” says Waldes, who notes that no town funds rely solely on marijuana revenue. “But we’re very much like the canary in the coal mine. While it has brought new revenue to the town, I’m not quite sure if the risks were worth it this early.”

New year, new unknowns

Despite monthly (and almost weekly) shifts, owners like McGuire and Brown are excited to be on the front line of a burgeoning industry, particularly in a tourist Mecca like Summit County. The local dispensary community is relatively small — nine stores total, located in Frisco, Breckenridge and Silverthorne — but it has outperformed every other mountain community in terms of tax revenue.

In August alone — the tail end of the summer season — Summit County generated roughly $114,500 in marijuana tax revenue, according to numbers from the state. That’s double what Pitkin and Clear Creek counties generated, and nearly triple what Eagle County pulled in.

The local dispensary community continues to grow, even as the state’s marijuana industry hasn’t quite met early predications. In February, Gov. John Hickenlooper said the combined sales from retail and medical marijuana could reach $1 billion in the first year, with the state collecting $134 million in taxes and fees. Since then, he dropped the prediction to $114 million, due in large part to the uncertainties of the rapidly evolving industry.

For Robin Albert, Youth and Family Services Manager for Summit County, those uncertainties are a major concern for children and parents in a community built around play — and party culture. When Amendment 64 passed, it earmarked funds for education programs to keep youth away from the newly decriminalized drug.

“Will access increase because of legalization? This is anecdotal, but there’s the perception that once adults can use something, it’s no longer seen as a completely bad thing,” Albert says. “But our message is always moderation, and when we talk to parents, we let them know they have to be smart about where and when they use marijuana.”

Beginning in early 2015, the department will launch a five-year education campaign, funded in part by tax revenue from local dispensaries. The campaign, known as Healthy Futures Initiative, will gather information on the impact marijuana has had on local youth and the community. The results will help the department fill a basic, vital need for more data on legal weed, Albert says.

In the meantime, the cultural tides keep shifting and the industry keeps evolving in turn. Albert and her colleagues regularly receive calls from agencies along the East Coast for tips on how to tackle legal marijuana education. BCC will find a new home on Airport Road. HCH has plans for a 20,000-square-foot grow space to meet demand for wholesale product across the state.

For Blaise, those shifts mean more paperwork. But he doesn’t mind. In just a year, he’s gone from selling 2 or 3 ounces of bud per day to several pounds, and he looks forward to complete legalization.

“I think it’s kind of cool,” he says of the Colorado pot industry. “Hopefully it will be legal everywhere. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Best Of Summit Voting is Now Open!

It’s that time again to vote for the Best Of Summit County! We rely on you, who know Summit County best, to vote for the best local businesses and crown this year’s 2016 Best Of Summit!

VOTE NOW!

Christmas dishes paired with cannabis

When the holidays arrive, local chef Jessica Catalano can’t wait to experiment with puff pastry — and cannabis.

“I think anything with puff pastry is just so quintessential when it comes to the holidays,” Catalano says. “They’re so flaky and buttery and delicious. It just warms you to the core.”

The Saturday after Christmas, Catalano was trying to decide how to best combine her favorite treat with one of her favorite ingredients. It’s the first Christmas season with legal marijuana — a sort of landmark holiday for cannabis connoisseurs — and to celebrate, Catalano is leading a slate of cooking classes for the “All Things Cannabis Christmas Experience” at Cultivating Spirits, one of the state’s only cannabis-minded event services.

The experience costs $299 per couple and comes with three sessions: a THC infusion course, a guided tour of the neighboring High Country Healing dispensary and, to top it off, a three-course, non-infused meal prepared by the chef. Tonight is the final Christmas event, but the seasonal courses are held throughout the year, along with weekly infusion and THC classes.

Yet Catalano’s menu for the cannabis Christmas isn’t weighed down with old-school edibles like cookies, brownies and gummy bears. As author of the 2012 cookbook “The Ganja Kitchen Revolution: The Bible of Cannabis Cuisine,” a top-selling marijuana cookbook available everywhere from Amazon to Sears, she’s interested in much more than sweets.

And so is Philip Wolf, founder of Cultivating Spirits. Both he and Catalano are advocates of weed’s luxurious side, and he believes the holidays are a near-perfect time to showcase the unexpected refinement of Colorado’s newest industry.

“During the holidays, people want to be celebratory,” Wolf says. “Anything that’s unique around the holidays, people love to do that. For us, it’s a natural fit to pair the holidays with what we do and it’s exciting that this is the first year we’ve been able to do this.”

Infused dining

The Christmas cannabis experience begins with an introduction to THC infusion, led by Catalano in the modern, high-end kitchen at the Cultivating Spirits Eatery, home to dozens of private and scheduled cooking events throughout the year. It’s the first space of its kind in Summit County, where the popularity of marijuana getaways like the Silverthorne Bud and Breakfast has drawn a range of cannabis tourists.

To give the Cultivating Spirits classes an intimate vibe, most in-depth sessions are limited to 10 people. It’s private and relaxing, especially for individual couples, and Wolf says the range of attendees has been eclectic, from 30-something Front Rangers looking for a night on the town to 70-year-old Texas natives battling chronic arthritis and other ailments.

“People are astounded because they’re having a great time doing something that’s only in Colorado,” Wolf says. “We have people who come just for the medical benefits, then we have people who just want to get dressed up and do something different, all while they learn about cooking and food and cannabis. It’s a huge experience.”

For complete newcomers to the marijuana world, Catalano goes over everything a cook needs to know before experimenting with infusion: dosage, extraction methods, THC content (the chemical that creates the high).

“Cannabutter,” or butter infused with cannabis, is one of the most popular and versatile extraction methods, right behind other fat-based substances like olive oil and coconut oil. Before the course, Catalano preps various infusion stages — grinding the cannabis, cooking the butter and cannabis mixture in a double boiler — to give attendees a visual guide for every step. With butter, infusion typically takes two hours from start to finish.

THC dosage is a hot-button issue after Denver-area hospitals saw a rise in children accidentally eating marijuana candies, and Catalano stresses the importance of proper dosage. Like any kind of cooking, it comes down to math. The state recommends 10 milligrams of THC per serving, but the chef begins as low as 5 milligrams, then encourages cooks to experiment at home until they find the right dosage.

After the infusion course and dispensary tour, the evening is capped with a three-course meal from Catalano. She writes the menu as she wanders through the grocery store, where seasonal ingredients are a must — after all, cannabis as an ingredient knows no bounds. Like the infusion course, the meal itself doesn’t contain cannabis, but she leaves attendees with ideas about how to get creative at home.

“Every meal depends on what’s fresh and what’s in season and what’s the best,” Catalano says. “I take that and pair it with the theme of the night, and this one is holidays, so that means family.”

The gift of cannabis

True to Wolf’s vision for Cultivating Spirits — the website has a mission statement, something even four-star restaurants don’t have — Catalano’s infusion class is more than a crash course on getting stoned. It’s about the smart and responsible ways to consume cannabis, something that’s close to the founder’s heart.

“It’s more about helping people understand what this plant can do for you,” Wolf says. “We want to get away from the misnomers. There has been so much negativity surrounding this drug. We want to show why it’s beneficial to your lifestyle and why it can be beneficial to society if consumed in a responsible way.”

The educational aspect is also a must for Catalano. As a kid in upstate New York, she suffered from constant migraines until she first tried marijuana as a teenager. Smoking helped ease the throbbing at first, but over time, she found that cuisine was a much better vessel for treating chronic pain. It fits with her overall food philosophy: Cook what you love to share with your loved ones.

“When I do a cannabis event, what I’m really doing is sharing the medicinal benefits,” says Catalano, whose book has detailed instructions on proper dosage for infused foods. “The act of teaching someone they can heal themselves holistically, using these natural ingredients, it’s just important to me. It’s a perpetual love thing, the sort of thing they take home.”

And that’s the true takeaway for Catalano and Wolf. While the meals aren’t infused, pairing those take-away moments with good food and good wine feeds into the holiday spirit. Cannabis is just another ingredient.

“When I was younger, I never thought this would be a reality,” Catalano says. “I’m very blessed to be here in Colorado. This is normalizing cannabis, like growing tomatoes. It’s a beautiful gift to be able to share this with people, basically giving them the gift of knowledge when it comes to cannabis.”

Different Types of Marjuana Strains in Colorado

Stepping into a recreational marijuana store can be overwhelming. Shops can carry dozens of different plant strains and phenotypes at any given time, some specific to that region or even that particular store.

Not all buds are created equal, either. Some shops will grade each plant harvested according to its physical properties. This is not an indication of the level of THC in each plant but, rather, whether it reflects the desired attributes of a given strain, just as particular wines are a reflection of their varietal.

“We grade each plant individually by visual aspects,” said Zach York, processing supervisor at Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge. “Fuller, more developed plants will be the top shelf, and then we’ll downgrade it a step to A grade or two steps to B grade as we find flaws.”

Though strains of marijuana are classified as either indica or sativa, it’s rare that a plant will be 100 percent of one or the other. Hybrids are common, and the composition of each plant dictates the type of high you will feel.

“Indica is easier to grow in the sense of yield, as well as that full bud development,” York said. “It gives you more of a body high, as opposed to the head high of the sativa.”

Whether you’re choosing your product based on grade, price or other factors, when shopping for a particular high, it’s good to know the basics. Here, York breaks down the two main categories of marijuana, indica and sativa, and the various strains therein.

Indica

• Skywalker Kush

Composition: 100 percent indica

Aroma: Spicy earthiness

Features: Kush is kind of a distinct flavor in and of itself, York said, but its aroma is more of a spicy earthiness, rather than the sweetness you would find in other strains. Cultivators haven’t been growing Skywalker Kush as long as some other strains, but it’s already in the realm of popular nomenclature that people recognize and desire, which is why Alpenglow chose to add it to the shop’s repertoire. The buds are heavily coated in THC crystals, and this kush has been popular with customers and staff members, York said.

• Pineapple Express

Composition: 80 percent indica, 20 percent sativa

Aroma: Hazy fruitiness

Features: You may have heard of this strain from the movie of the same name. York said that familiar moniker also makes this product popular with a lot of consumers. The aroma of the flowers translates very closely to what they will taste like when smoked, and this one is very aromatic. York said its high indica content makes Pineapple Express good for pain treatment or those who are looking to relax or go to sleep.

• Mango Kush

Composition: 80 percent indica, 20 percent sativa

Aroma: Mixture of spicy sweetness

Features: This strain is a phenotype that was cultivated from a Pineapple Express seed, a variation of the original. Alpenglow Botanicals co-owner Justin Williams explained how particular phenotypes are developed. “Parents have 10 kids, but they aren’t all exactly the same,” he said. “Close, but not exact.” Mango Kush placed highly in the recent Cannabis Cup and has a dense structure, York said, with a light-green appearance and lighter colored hairs on the flowers.

Sativa

• Strawberry Cough

Composition: 75 percent sativa, 25 percent indica

Aroma: Fruity, with some spice, fitting to its name

Features: Like most sativa-dominant strains of marijuana, Strawberry Cough is characterized by its fluffy buds, which are typically less dense than those of its indica-heavy cousins. A phenotype of the Strawberry Cough, called Strawberry Blue, placed ninth at the Cannabis Cup. York describes the sativa high as “motivational, uplifting, a head high as opposed to a body high, with a little bit more creativity or psychoactivity” than an indica.

• Juicy Fruit

Composition: 90 percent sativa, 10 percent indica

Aroma: Much sweeter in the aroma, compared to Strawberry Cough

Features: York said the Juicy Fruit is a little bit heavier than other sativa strains, with really nice bud development. “In terms of how the flower fills out, basically with any plant, it can be healthier or not quite as healthy,” York said, describing how plants of this strain are graded. “It will be fluffier or leafier, and more dense, top-shelf flowers have dense, compact buds.”

• Jacks Cleaner

Composition: 90 percent sativa, 10 percent indica

Aroma: More toward spicy, like a classic Middle Eastern hookah spice

Features: Another popular product, this strain is named for Jack Herer, a famous marijuana strain breeder and seed grower. “That’s one of those that when it’s more fully developed, more desirable, it’s that fluffy, not quite as dense, light green with orange hairs,” York said.