Marijuana: Trying to beat the crowds at Annie's in Central City
As lines began wrapping entire blocks in Denver, we headed up to Central City and Annie's -- a shop that has the distinction of receiving the first local licensing approval for recreational retail sales six weeks ago, well before the state got around to licensing anyone.
There wasn't a line out front -- just a few people hanging out on the corner of the narrow, snow-filled street outside of the shop, which has the distinction of being a liquor store, grocery store and dispensary all under one roof. Inside, though, the storefront was packed with people with snow-wet feet and winter jackets waiting for two hours or more for their chance to buy some greenery.
I threw my name on the wait list and headed for an empty corner near the grocery store checkout, between the children's costume jewelry and display cabinet full of $8 bottles of Yukon Jack and Bacardi Rum. The grocery store had a selection of cheap glass pipes on display at the checkout counter, and every now and then someone walking out of the dispensary with a bag of weed and an out-of-state ID in their hand would stop and purchase a pipe on their way out the door.
The demographic of the crowd was interesting:a lot of older, graying couples; tourists from Hawaii, New Jersey and Texas; as well as a few scraggly mountain-folk locals for good measure. This is Central City, after all. "This is the busiest I've seen town in years," one local said to nobody in particular while waiting in line for her half-ounce of herb (from a dispensary she already shops at as a medical patient, as far as we could tell).
To keep crowds down, the shop was sending people to a casino a few blocks away for a free breakfast. Most people opted for that or just walked around the few scraggly casinos left in the ghost-town bleary afternoon. Signs out front warned people against public consumption in Central City, and the few people I did hear talk about sneaking off for a toke walked out of sight.
Other people had nothing better to do than wait. Bill from Golden and his wife had huge grins, despite waiting in line for over an hour and a half. The couple, probably in their late forties, hadn't been medical patients, and this was their first legal purchase. Bill said he was stoked to not have to go through an always-late pot dealer who was likely pinching off the top. "I've been getting it from Dude, now I don't have to," he told me before buying a big bag of herb, hash and cookies. "Don't have to have him step on it, either."
Page down for the rest of our coverage of Annie's.