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Marijuana Education Effort Underway Ahead Of Ski Season

Pitkin County Sheriff's Office

Even though snowfall is likely weeks away, law enforcement and businesses in Aspen are gearing up for winter and for tourists trying marijuana. A local marijuana safety group is drawing up a pamphlet it plans to place in hotel rooms throughout the resort. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen explains.

The Aspen Square Condominium Hotel is a short walk from the ski gondola and, from a retail marijuana store. Now that pot’s legal, General Manager Warren Klug says he’s concerned about people smoking in their rooms and staff taking home what guests leave behind.

Credit Valley Marijuana Council
The Valley Marijuana Council got much of its pamphlet information from the marijuana industry.

"One of my biggest concerns is, while traditionally housekeepers and condominium properties are allowed to take home whatever groceries or food stuffs people leave on their departure, what happens if they leave a plate of cookies or a container that has some marijuana-laced gummy bears," he says.

This summer Klug has been working with his 50 staff on how to recognize marijuana-infused food and what to do with it. Next, he’s hoping to educate guests with a flyer outlining things like...

"...Here’s the environment and this is what you can and cannot do. And, by the way, be very careful about where you leave any leftovers or edibles. When it’s time to leave, there should not be any of that left in your room."

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe Disalvo has a colorful brochure pulled up on his computer. It includes information like it can take two hours to feel the effects of edible marijuana products and the high from edibles can last four to six hours. There are suggested serving sizes too.

"We’re trying to tell people, if you’re going to eat this 5 milligrams is your first dose. Five milligrams, wait two or three hours, see what happens. And, if the next day, if it wasn’t sufficient go to 10 milligrams. But, don’t eat 20 or 30 milligrams your first time out because you’ll be really unhappy," Disalvo says.

The brochures will be distributed at restaurants, bars and hotels throughout Aspen. The education effort grew from a series of meetings held by the Valley Marijuana Council, a group Disalvo started when marijuana became legal in Colorado.

"When we started this it wasn’t about promoting marijuana or saying that we love it, we’re glad it’s here. A lot of the people on our panel don’t agree with the fact that this is legal. We do agree that we have to roll this out responsibly with a heavy, heavy, heavy educational campaign."

With the pamphlet, the group’s preparing for an onslaught of new people in town starting when the ski areas open around Thanksgiving. Erik Klandurud sits on the Valley Marijuana Council and works for the Aspen Chamber. Because the industry’s new, he says questions from area businesses are always changing.

"People are curious and they want to touch and feel and see what the packaging looks like. The visitors along with the staff want to understand, where can you legally use the product."

Sheriff Disalvo thinks Aspen’s approach of acknowledging weed is legal and then educating people about it is rare.

"Most communities unfortunately have a “head-in-the-sand” attitude or ignoring it until a problem comes up. Some communities are ignoring it, hoping a problem comes up because they’re against the amendment (Amendment 64)."

Disalvo says no arrests have been made in Aspen around legal pot. The biggest negative consequence, he says, is people over-consuming products like marijuana infused candies. The Valley Marijuana Council will begin distributing its pamphlets in the next two weeks.

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