Back in 2009 when I was working at a downtown Denver dispensary called Peace in Medicine, we had areas for socializing and consumption on site. We had a game room with a pool table, dart board, cards and games. Another room had a selection of musical instruments folks could pick up and play. The central lobby had a flat screen TV for movies, news and music, along with a bookcase full of resources on culture, cultivation and use. It provided a wonderful opportunity for new and naive patients to interact and gain knowledge from more experienced users.
That’s where I tried my first vaporizer and my first real edible. My first bag from a Volcano was also my first experience with Golden Goat. That’s where I could talk to other patients about strains and effects. That’s where I first heard stories about how cannabis had miraculously changed lives. That’s where I heard from other fibromyalgia sufferers about how cannabis had helped them.
In a social environment, new users benefit from the knowledge of experienced users. They have the opportunity to try new products in a safe and supportive environment rather than alone at home or in a hotel room.
HB10-1284 eliminated on-sight consumption and socializing, doing a great disservice to patients. There was no comfortable alternative for patients to get together and share knowledge. This free exchange of information that had helped me so much was stopped in its tracks. Where were patients, particularly patients new to cannabis, to go for information? Once they walked out of the dispensary, they were left on their own to just figure it out.
Medical marijuana can be very complicated. Unfortunately, most budtenders at dispensaries just don’t have the in-depth knowledge about every condition medical marijuana is good for along with every product and means of consumption. A patient’s best resource for usable information is other patients.
Even for patients, cannabis is a social experience. A place to socialize provides opportunities to connect with other patients struggling with similar conditions and symptoms. “What do you use?” and “What works for you?” are common, but important, questions patients need and want to discuss with one another.
I encourage the legislature and local governments to allow marijuana social clubs, which provide value for both medical patients and adult-use consumers.