How to enjoy the Summit County cannabis scene |

How to enjoy the Summit County cannabis scene

Alex Howe, left, a budtender at Altitude Organic Cannabis in Dillon, stands behind a protective plexiglass barrier while talking with customers Feb. 16.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

In Summit County, there is a diverse landscape of cannabis-based offerings to enjoy, whether it’s your first time stepping into a dispensary or you’re a longtime connoisseur.

But where do you start? If you’re new to Colorado, you might also be new to marijuana, and there’s a lot you should know before lighting up.

Gone are the days of low-potency bud getting passed under the table in Ziplock bags. Today, the experience is much more refined — even sophisticated — with dispensaries selling everything from pre-rolled joints to topical creams, friendly budtenders helping to educate customers, and plenty of rules and regulations to ensure everyone can keep enjoying nature’s best flower responsibly.

It can seem intimidating at first blush, but here is a quick guide that will fill you in on everything you need to know to get busy blazing.

Eat, drink, smoke and be merry

You’re probably familiar with the old shaggy-haired, ski-bum stoner stereotype. And, well, it’s not totally inaccurate. But that paradigm has been largely erased over the past few years, and you’ll find marijuana users from all walks of life frequenting Summit County’s dispensaries.

“I have a lot of customers who are what you’d think of, the snowboard bro or whatever,” said James Beinhart, general manager of Breckenridge Organic Therapy. “But we really do cater to a lot of different demographics, whether that’s higher-end clientele or older generations who maybe have taken a break from cannabis or are getting into it for the very first time.”

That’s in part due to the wide variety of marijuana offerings that are available for whatever type of experience you’re looking for.

Novice users most often choose pre-rolled joints or edible gummies because they’re relatively cheap and ready to use without additional accessories. Of course, customers can also buy flower to use with their own rolling papers, hand pipes or water pipes like bongs and bubblers, and the variety of edibles expands well beyond gummies into chocolate bars, baked goods, sodas, hard candies and even ingestible oils and extracts.

For those with their own vaporizers or dab rigs, local dispensaries also offer a variety of concentrates, including shatter, wax, rosin and more.

If you’re not sure what’s right for you, don’t be afraid to lean on one of the county’s knowledgeable budtenders. Whether you need help sleeping or dealing with chronic knee pain after a day on the slopes, or you’re looking for something to enhance your hiking experience or plant you on the couch for the day, the experts can help guide you down the right path.

“Sometimes it’s sort of overwhelming because you’re a new person and there are so many different options,” said Aaron Bluse, owner of Altitude Organic Cannabis in Dillon. “What you should expect is to be treated individually, and the product adviser or budtender will work with you individually to answer any questions and figure out the best way that we can create a positive experience. That’s really where we’ll ask questions like, ‘What are you doing? What kind of activities are you getting into?’”

As with most things, marijuana should be used in moderation. Work with your budtender to find out how much marijuana you’ll need during your trip up to the mountains and what potency and consumption method is best suited for your planned activities.

Don’t kill the vibe

Marijuana can be a lot of fun: Most users feel a jolt of jubilation or relaxation after a toke, it can help to abate anxiety, and many swear by its ability to let them better connect with nature and art. But it’s also a drug that has to be used responsibly.

Anyone 21 and older can purchase marijuana in Colorado as long as they have a valid, government-issued ID. Recreationally, users are able to purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis at a time and can possess up to 2 ounces at a time.

It is illegal in Colorado to consume marijuana in any form in public, which means smoking at concert venues or out on one of Summit’s beautiful main streets is out of the question. Use on any federal lands is also prohibited, so if you’re heading to a ski area or into the national forest to hike, you’ll have to leave your bud at home.

Your best bet for a great place to smoke or pop an edible is on private property — just check in with the property owner or manager to make sure it’s allowed beforehand if you’re staying at a hotel or short-term rental.

Most importantly, it’s illegal and unsafe to drive while high. So if you’re wanting to hit up a restaurant or head to another part of the county after consuming, plan ahead with a designated driver or book a ride-share service. Make sure to keep your marijuana products in their dispensary-sealed containers on the drive back to your lodging, as well.

Remember, it’s also illegal to leave the state with any marijuana products, so you’ll have to leave whatever products you have behind when your trip is over.

A marijuana bud is pictured at Breckenridge dispensary in December 2017.
Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News archive

Making the most of your high

You’ve made your way in and out of the dispensary, your budtender has helped you find the perfect selection of fine cannabis products to suit your needs, and you’ve got a good understanding of the do’s and don’ts.

Now it’s time to enjoy. There are plenty of ways to enjoy some of Summit County’s best offerings, but it’s best to take things slow.

“If you’re not used to the altitude and you want to go out on a hike, it might be tough,” Beinhart said. “We’ll send people over to the troll, which is a great, easy stroll to go on when you’re stoned. Walks on Main Street, I think, are always super fun, and obviously there are food offerings that pair well with cannabis.”

Whatever you choose — a hike in the woods, a day on the pond ice fishing or taking a snowshoe tour — marijuana can be a great way to take in the local experience with a new perspective. Just be sure to plan ahead and be safe.

“I think it’s trying to find something experiential, that dovetails nicely with cannabis that’s also safe,” Bluse said. “… You have things where in nature you can have a more profound connection with those kinds of things. It helps promote that kind of lifestyle by kind of slowing things down a little bit. … Just make sure you plan ahead and be respectful. Get your ride share, be mindful and cognizant of others so everyone can have a positive experience.”

Learn the lingo

Bongs and bubblers: Water filtration pipes used for smoking marijuana.

Bud: The flower of the marijuana plant, which can be smoked using rolling papers and hand pipes.

Budtenders: An employee of a dispensary who interacts with and sells products to customers.

Concentrates: Extracts that can be smoked, vaporized or infused into edibles, such as hash, shatter, wax and rosin.

Dispensary: A store that is licensed to sell recreational marijuana to customers 21 and older.

Edibles: Food that is infused with THC, such as gummies, chocolate bars, baked goods, sodas, hard candies and even ingestible oils and extracts.

THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound that gives pot its high.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.