1. Get your bearings.
Cruise around the block six times, whispering Is this the place? Is this it?!? over and over and over to your boyfriend. Park right up front, feed the meter, then change your mind and decide you’re a little too close. Get back in your rental car, circle the block one more time, and park three blocks away.
Casually stroll up the street, as though you’re going somewhere else. “There’s a Whole Foods just around the corner, right? I think we need some more jicama.” Then, once you’re right in front of your target building, turn on a dime and dive into the first open doorway you see.
2. Look like you know what you’re doing.
My mom calls this “walking with purpose.” Aggressively march up to a display of glass pipes. Pick up an elaborate-looking one and loudly comment on its heft and shine. Spin on your heel and sidle your way through a group of angsty youths clustered around a case containing what seems to be metal pens. Offer some words of wisdom, like, “Fountain pens! What a great idea. Sort of an all-in-one shop.”
This will prompt one of the troubled teens to give you a condescending look before mumble-sighing at you about the health benefits of vaporizers. Now you’ve made a friend and learned some valuable insider tips.
After careening around the store for 20 minutes, you will eventually realize that you haven’t actually happened upon any weed. Slink up to the front counter and smile at the girl who looks like a Hot Topic wet-heaved all over her. Lean over conspiratorially and ask her where the good stuff is. The you-know.
“It’s next door, in the dispensary. This is the head shop. And you don’t have to whisper.”
Smile knowingly and wink before slithering out the front door.
3. Make a seamless entry.
Now you’ll become cognizant of some exciting differences between this entrance and the one you just came out of, such as the metal, windowless door and large red-and-black sign that reads “HOLD ID UP TO DOOR AND RING BELL.”
“Oh shit, that sounds like a secret password type of situation, doesn’t it?”
“No,” your boyfriend will say as he opens his wallet.
“Oh man, it’s like a speakeasy or something. What do we do?”
“You could start by getting out your license.”
Try to refrain from your instinctive urge to throw yourself flat against the wall as the door opens and five raucous hooligans pour out onto the sidewalk.
“IDs?” the muscular, bouncer-type dude at the door will say.
Giggle awkwardly while pawing at your boyfriend to go first. This will give you time to sift through your travel-safe money belt for your license.
4. Survey the premises.
The décor in here is much more reserved than next door — like a Southwest-themed Pier 1. Your new-age aunt who moved to Sedona to pursue her dream of becoming a certified crystal healer would love this place. Sepia-toned walls are strewn with vaguely-native-American-themed wrought-iron figures and faux-leather dreamcatchers. Clay pots of unknown purpose list to one side in the corner. A legalization map is prominently featured.
A weed dispensary is a lot like a winery or brewery, except in Colorado dispensaries, half the room is devoted to recreational users and half to medical users. The only difference is price; those with a medical card pay about 1/3 of the recreational cost. Consider what life would be like if your crippling anxiety could get you a medical beer card and reduce your alcohol bills by 2/3. Maybe with all that extra money, you could have finished grad school and MADE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF.