Tourists brave a long line to buy first bag of pot in Steamboat Springs
January 8, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Don Eckelmeyer was upbeat Wednesday when he left Jackson, Wyo., at 3 a.m.
He then drove more than 300 miles to buy his first legal bag of marijuana here in Steamboat Springs.
"It's the closest place," he said.
When he got here, he and his fiance patiently waited in a line of more than 80 people for about two hours to make the purchase at Rocky Mountain Remedies.
"The drive here actually was beautiful," Eckelmeyer said without any sign of fatigue on his face.
He and his fiance plan to use the marijuana for medicinal purposes.
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He said he has a torn right ankle from athletic activities. She gets chronic migraines.
"We can't get medicinal marijuana back home, so this is the next best thing," Eckelmeyer said.
They were one of the older couples waiting in line.
Near them, an Alpine Taxi van pulled up to drop off a large group of tourists at the shop on Downhill Drive.
Some were waiting to buy pot just to have a good time. Others wanted it for pain management or to give to a loved one who was dying of cancer.
"I just enjoy it. It makes me feel better," 22-year-old Frank Rayas said at the front of the line.
But he knew he couldn't take his purchase back on the flight home to San Marcos, Texas, just as it would be illegal for Eckelmeyer to return to Wyoming with his marijuana.
Wednesday morning marked the start of an unprecedented era of pot sales in Steamboat Springs, and the demand for the product was high right out of the gate, especially among tourists.
The vast majority of the people in line weren't from Colorado, and their ages ranged from 21 to senior citizens.
Most hailed from Texas and were here for MusicFest or ski vacations. Others were visiting from Maryland, Nebraska, Florida, Tennessee, North Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, South Carolina, Arkansas, Montana, New York, Illinois and the District of Columbia.
The first bag of recreational pot sold in Steamboat was purchased by 22-year-old Patrick Krenke, of Minnesota.
Reggae music was playing from his Subaru Outback when he and the first group of shoppers arrived at Rocky Mountain Remedies an hour before it opened at 10 a.m.
"How does it feel?" a person in line shouted at him as he walked out with the first bag
"I'll feel good in about 20 minutes," he said with a grin on his face.
Almost all of these people found the marijuana culture in Steamboat to be vastly different from home.
"Back home in Oklahoma, a lot of people are quiet about it," Lacey Farris, 22, said at the front of the line.
She said she wanted to be part of history.
Only a handful of people at the start of the day were there from Steamboat, and that didn't surprise Rocky Mountain Remedies co-owner Kevin Fisher, who hasn't gotten much sleep in recent days while preparing for the store's opening.
"It seems to be cranking out there," he said as the line slowly moved forward.
An hour and a half after opening, more than 70 people still were in line.
Two locals passed the time singing songs with a marijuana theme while playing a guitar and the bongos.
Meanwhile, Trevor Ward was busy working in his printing shop, Crown Prints, which borders the new pot shop.
From his storefront, he could see the line growing longer and longer.
Ward said he sees that a lot of good, including sales tax revenue, will come from the business, but he wondered about what impact it would have on this community.
"It is what it is. It's a legitimate business now," he said. "But at this time next week will it be this busy? Probably not."
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210,
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