DENVER — It felt like walking into a doctor’s office.
Then again, it also felt like walking into a fast-food joint.
There was an ATM right inside the entrance.
An ATM, like the one you’d see at a gas station, with the $3 fee.
Then there was an L-shaped receptionists’ desk.
The man behind that desk was bespectacled. And bearded. And busy.
The line was about six-people long, but in a room that basically served as a lobby for a marijuana market, that was enough to stretch to the front door.
The man at the desk was asking for signatures on a little electronic pad on the desktop.
The process took a while, so it backed the line up some.
Most of the people in the room had come in pairs. There happened to be one person in an Broncos sweatshirt and another in a knit cap.
Beyond that, there never felt like there was a single thought bubble in the air about football or the playoffs or Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.
Especially not once you crossed the threshold between the lobby and the actual marijuana retail showroom of The Green Solution, a crowded, newly-legal recreational weed dispensary on West Alameda Avenue, a few miles outside of downtown Denver.
Part of it feels like any Starbucks you’ve ever visited.
(There are edibles staring you in the face. Cookies and brownies made with marijuana-infused butter. Then actual tubs of marijuana-infused butter. There are joints that look like toys. Tulips. Trifectas. Super cones. There were backlit displays and details about all the “top-shelf” and “featured” strains. )
Part of it feels like any gift shop you’ve ever been to.
(There were five-leaved shot glasses, coffee mugs, chess boards, and socks. There were bongs and grinders and rolling papers. Snoop Dogg rolling papers. “The Green Solution T-shirts, hoodies, purses.)
This is what it was like to walk into a recreational weed store two weeks after it became legal to buy it in the state of Colorado.
The midday traffic at the shop was for the most part steady.
Lot of beards. Lots and lots of beards.
All types of people popped in. A late-twenty-something guy in a blazer, jeans, and hard bottoms. His friend in the Kansas Jayhawks sweatshirt and Asics running shoes.
Another relatively young man — long, tied-back hair, blue sweatshirt — walked in with a friend. They appeared to speak sign language.
Two women, the kind you might find teaching at an elementary school, walked in later. One of them had on thin-rimmed glasses, a long scarf, and carried a big purse.
The staff knows their product. The names (Headband. Blue Dream. Sour Diesel, Sour Breath). The strains (sative, indica). The effects (headband gets its name from the heavy feeling it will leave around your forehead; Sour Breath is self-explanatory.)
They run off all the details at the speed of Siri.
They were as friendly as they were helpful. They had the look not like sales people but first-hand spokespeople for their product.
They show you the shelves of pre-rolled products.
Regular joints. Blunts. Long kazoo-sized Super cones. Flower bud formed Tulips. The cross-shaped Trifecta.
All rolled like pieces of herbal arts and crafts perfection.
The only pre-roll still in stock, though, was the Tulip, which was disappointing to one particular customer who was counting the cash — and coins — in his wallet to see if he could afford the price tag.
All he had was $32, he said.
“I wanted the cross,” he said.
He settled for the Tulip.
It was $31.90.
The prices were less than what people would probably expect to pay.
A gram was $15. An ounce was $240.
The nearly 20 percent taxes were a different story.
It left one man, who came with a female friend, disappointed.
He could see the blunt he wanted behind the glass case. But the empty jar and the crumb-dusted shelf meant he was out of luck. He came with $10. The blunt was $10.95. Before taxes.
He looked like the type that’d be willing to negotiate.
The saleswoman behind the shelf — young, dark-haired, husky-voiced — looked down and told him, “I’m sorry. For $10, I don’t think there would’ve been anything for you to buy.”
But there was no haggling. A dime bag was no longer a dime. It was a dime and tax.
In Colorado, buying marijuana wasn’t that kind of business anymore.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.