Boulderites, visitors, and adults throughout Colorado face a major challenge. “Now that I’ve legally bought my weed, where can I smoke it??

This could be the single most difficult question facing marijuana consumers, visitors or residents,  presented by legalization. Bud tenders are asked on a daily basis “where can I smoke the weed I just purchased legally?”

NO LEGAL ADVICE HERE! While I strive to be legally accurate, this is NOT a legal brief, not legal advice, and not an assurance that the laws have not changed. This is a rapidly evolving area. Caution, as always has been the situation with smoking pot. And every case is different! Lawyers including me and other lawyer-members of the NORML Legal Committee and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar can give proper individual legal advice. An ounce of prevention for your ounce of prevention you might say.

NOW, having said that, how about some answers! Let’s examine smoking pot legally and illegally in Colorado.

FIRST, my conclusion/summary. Let’s get to the point!  I still imbibe as I did before legalization. LOW KEY. I don’t want others to see or smell my consumption. That used to be mandated by the pressure of the law driving us underground.  Today with legalization we are still driven underground by the law. While legal purchase has become as easy as showing real proof of age, like a driver’s license, consumption remains difficult. Of course with edibles, while other challenges are presented, consumption is easy! Eat the candy. Enjoy the infused soda, delight in the chocolate beware. Beware of the dosage and of course.

But what if you want to simply smoke a joint? This question is important and has short list of long answers. I believe that two factors need consideration; police and politeness. You don’t want to get ticketed or arrested or even confronted by law enforcement. We also do not want non-smokers, especially those under 21, and even more especially those of more tender years exposed to marijuana by strangers. Dealing with that challenge is best left to parenting decisions and approaches. In other words, kids do not need to smell pot while walking down the street. Am I an old fuddy-duddy? Sure! I thought the same thing when I was in college. I think. It was some years ago, and some of my best memories never happened!

Private Property: The safest place to consume marijuana is on private property, with the owner’s permission.

Consider “take a local to dinner.” A normal friendly invitation to share a smoke in someone’s home is a win-win approach. Private residences and some cannabis-friendly accommodations are possible. These include certain hotels or private rentals. Some explicitly allow marijuana consumption. Another approach is the hotel smoking lounge, The Patterson Inn nearby in Denver is in the process as I type, of moving towards opening a cannabis lounge. It holds the first license permitting this for a hotel. Legal smoking (bring your own pot) for hotel guests, their friends, and Cannabis Lounge members is to be offered in the immediate future.

This is the realization of a decades-old dream of the Owner-Proprietor Chris Chiari. Happily located at 420 E. 11th Ave. in Denver, the boutique hotel offers late 1800’s charm. It also is the second most haunted hotel in Colorado. For alcohol and NA drinkers, the 12 Spirits Lounge is immediately next door on hotel property.

Personally, a GREAT date is to check into the Patterson, consume legally, and then go to one of the sports events, concerts, art museums or any of the myriad attractions of a vibrant downtown area. Take an Uber. After the music or museum, back to the Patterson for an evening cocktail and perhaps for an evening smoke. Our cars do NOT go with us! Uber is cheaper than any top or even mid-tier lawyer.  In the morning we’ll wake up in a fancy room and not in the local hoosegow charged with some crime or another.

For most of us, most of the time, a quick surreptitious toke in a parking lot before a movie is still the status quo. We’re still in the alley for an  illegal toke. Just as in the Old Days (before legalization) discretion is the better part of vaping valor. Legal or not it is wise and polite to not have others smell the smoke. Why look for trouble? It can find us without any help! This approach is not a solution. Alley toking is still illegal and it can be dangerous, but the law being broken is a different one. Great. We have a long way to go. NORML and so many other wonderful organizations are working to solve this aggravating problem.

The need for me to write a blog on the challenges of edibles is screaming for my fingers to do the keyboard finger shuffle. I promise I will write the blog on “Guide to Goodies: How to Consume Edibles.” While edibles present their own set of usage challenges, consumption is not one of them. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Cannabis Clubs and Social Lounges: Some cities in Colorado have licensed cannabis clubs or social lounges where adults can legally consume marijuana on the premises. These establishments offer a social setting for consumers to enjoy marijuana products legally and safely. However, not all cities allow these businesses, so availability varies by location. Denver has some locations which are somewhat always in flux.
  2. Not in Public Spaces: Public consumption of marijuana is illegal in Colorado. This includes parks, sidewalks, streets, federal land, ski resorts, and public buildings. It’s also prohibited to consume marijuana in a way that endangers others, such as smoking while driving. Ironically it may be legal for a car passenger to smoke legally in the private space of the car, with the owner’s permission. Unfortunately this strategy can turn out very badly for the driver including being charged with DUID driving under the influence of drugs. A search of the car and the passengers, legal or not may be in the cards. Smell of pot smoke  is still an issue regardless of the legal defenses available.
  3. Discretion is Key: Even in places where consumption might seem permissible, such as certain outdoor spaces or during events, it’s frequently useful to be discreet and aware of local regulations and public consumption laws.
  4. Denver’s Initiative: Denver has a pilot program allowing businesses, like cafes and entertainment venues, to apply for licenses to permit social marijuana use on their premises. However, these establishments must not sell marijuana themselves and must comply with indoor smoking restrictions. A legal smoking lounge may have cleaner air than an airplane, which circulates and completely changes its filtered air every 30 seconds or so. I exaggerate but NOT MUCH. You can almost feel the wind in a properly filtered pot smoking legal establishment.
  5. Boulder’s Private Properties: Adult possession and consumption of marijuana is legal with limitations. It is legally consumed on private property in Boulder, with the property owner’s consent. This includes private homes and certain accommodations that explicitly allow it, such as cannabis-friendly Airbnb listings or boutique hotels that cater to cannabis users. VRBO, AirBNB, and the like have rules which vary with the property. This for many is a wonderful alternative to the alley.
  6. Boulder Cannabis Clubs:   While still somewhat of a pipe dream, Boulder has been exploring the expansion of its cannabis hospitality sector, indicating interest from the business community and some support for the concept of marijuana lounges. However, the city is still in the process of determining the structure of cannabis hospitality, including smoking lounges. The discussions around these lounges have included various perspectives, from health concerns associated with indoor smoking to business and public-policy arguments favoring regulated spaces for cannabis consumption. The broader support for such ventures comes from various sectors, including the Boulder Chamber, highlighting the potential for new business opportunities and a regulated environment for legal cannabis behavior. This suggests a move towards creating spaces where cannabis can be consumed legally and safely, away from public spaces like streets and parks, although no specific existing clubs were listed in Boulder at the moment​. For the most current information on cannabis clubs or lounges in Boulder, it would be beneficial to keep an eye on local news or contact the city’s Cannabis Licensing and Advisory Board, as regulations and available venues may and WILL change over time. This area of law is changing rapidly.
  7. Boulder Outdoor Events: Look for cannabis-friendly events in Boulder where adults can legally consume marijuana in a communal setting. Certain festivals, concerts, or private parties may have permits that allow the legal consumption of cannabis on the premises. This is an interesting and potentially rewarding approach!
  8. Boulder Cannabis Tours: Cannabis tours are available in Boulder. They offer a unique opportunity to explore the local cannabis scene. These tours provide an insider’s look at Boulder’s cannabis industry, from the cultivation process to the retail experience, and offer a chance to learn about the history of cannabis in the city. Participants can visit dispensaries, engage in cannabis-friendly activities, and even enjoy classes and workshops related to cannabis consumption and appreciation​​. For those interested in a more immersive experience, companies like Colorado Cannabis Tours offer comprehensive packages that include visits to dispensaries and grow houses, as well as lodging options in cannabis-friendly hotels. These tours are designed to cater to both seasoned cannabis enthusiasts and newcomers to the scene, offering educational insights, product sampling, and even art classes related to cannabis. Hotels partnered with these tours provide discreet use policies to ensure a comfortable stay for cannabis users​​. Their offerings include airport smoke-friendly pick up and drop off. Their website describes all of their offerings as well as allowing for reservations.

Some Boulder dispensaries offer their own behind-the-scenes tours, giving visitors a chance to learn about the cultivation, packaging, and selling processes of cannabis. These tours aim to elevate the understanding and appreciation of cannabis through direct interaction with knowledgeable staff and a wide selection of products​. Much as a bus tour in Washington DC can show someone more in a day than a civilian alone could see in a week, a Cannabis Tour can show you things you would otherwise not see at all.

SO, be cautious, strive to be legal (I advise not breaking the law of course) and NEVER break two laws at the same time. Remain circumspect and low-key. And if I’ve left any room for it, have a GREAT TIME in our evolving legality of marijuana. It was and is true that a museum, concert, or walk in the park might for some be far more enjoyable and special with the THC state-of-mind. Mandatory consumption is not the law. Permissible consumption IS the law. Ironic that the legality of purchasing and possessing pot at a licensed dispensary can be easy and totally and unquestionably legal in Colorado. (Mostly).   Buy? YES. Bong? MAYBE!

Lenny Lensworth Frieling

Shared Knowledge is Power!


  • Senior Counsel Emeritus to the Boulder Law firm Dolan + Zimmerman LLP : (720)-610-0951
  • Former Judge
  • Photographer of the Year, AboutBoulder 2023
  • First Chair and Originator of the Colorado Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Committee, a National first.
  • Previous Chair, Boulder Criminal Defense Bar (8 years)
  • Twice chair Executive Counsel, Colorado Bar Association Criminal Law Section
  • NORML Distinguished Counsel Circle
  • Life Member, NORML Legal Committee
  • Life Member, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
  • Board Member Emeritus, Colorado NORML
  • Chair, Colorado NORML, 7 years including during the successful effort to legalize recreational pot in Colorado
  • Media work, including episodes of Fox’s Power of Attorney, well in excess of many hundreds media interviews, appearances, articles, and podcasts, including co-hosting Time For Hemp for two years.
  • Board member, Author, and Editor for Criminal Law Articles for the Colorado Lawyer, primary publication of the Colorado Bar Assoc. 7 Years, in addition to having 2 Colorado Lawyer cover photos, and numerous articles for the Colorado Lawyer monthly publication.
  • LEAP Speaker, multi-published author, University lectures Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, Denver University Law School, Univ. of New Mexico, Las Vegas NM, and many other schools at all levels.