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What you need to know if you want to catch a Rocky Mountain high before the AFC Championship game in Denver

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  January 16, 2014 01:43 PM

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There’s more than one attraction in the Rocky Mountains this weekend for New Englanders than just the Patriots taking on the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. Yes, as of Jan. 1, marijuana is now legal in Colorado, which gives local weed aficionados who are traveling west to see the game a little extra novelty to enjoy.

If you intend to, ahem, partake, here are six things you may need to know:

1. While weed is legal on the state level, it remains illegal on a federal level. But last summer, the US Justice Department said it wouldn’t challenge states on legalizing marijuana, and would instead focus on trafficking and keeping the drug away from children. That being said, you’re still violating a federal law with the purchase and possession.

"They should be confused," attorney Alan Dershowitz told CNN. "The federal government still takes the position technically that you're violating federal law if you're complying with the state law. But the Obama administration, I believe, has recently taken a turn on its approach to drug enforcement."

2. Whatever excess you buy, leave it behind. You can’t bring weed on a plane, even if you’re travelling to another state where its use is legal. In fact, Denver International Airport has made it illegal to possess it on airport grounds. At Colorado Springs Airport, a number of “amnesty boxes” began to appear this week, where passengers can dump their unused portions, no questions asked.

3. While Colorado residents can purchase up to an ounce at a licensed store (check here for a map of participating locations), visitors from out-of-state may buy up to a quarter ounce. Where you can smoke it, on the other hand, is a bit more nondescript. There are no Amsterdam-style coffee shops, local ski resorts have made it known they don’t condone smoking on their slopes, and national parks carry up to a $5,000 fine for smoking within the vicinity. On-site consumption at the purchase point is also a no-no. To sum it up, it’s only legal if you smoke in a private property with the owner’s permission. According to thecannabist, hotels in the state have the ability to turn a blind eye to the practice as well.

4. Not sure where to start? A few outfits have begun to offer weed tours. Colorado Green Tours, for instance, offers packages that include transportation from the airport, lodging, and “opportunity to sample some of Colorado’s finest.” Colorado Highlife tours offer both private and retail tours for $99 per person.

5. How much will it cost otherwise? According to thecannabist, a local blog dedicated to the laws and uses surrounding marijuana, “ounces run from $150 to close to $300. But almost nobody buys full ounces. The more common purchase amount is an eighth of an ounce. Think of it like a 12-pack. Eighths run around $25 to $45 for medical marijuana.” Taxes? “For a $30 eighth, state taxes will run about $6,” according to the cannibist. “Extra taxes in Denver will add on another $2.59. All together, that’s nearly 29 percent.”

6. Much like alcohol, the law is 21 and over. It’s still illegal for anyone underage to possess marijuana. It’s also still illegal to drive and smoke. A motorist in Colorado can be ticketed for impaired driving if his or her blood shows more than 5 nanograms of active THC.

The cannabist has a list of 64 most frequently asked questions about Colorado’s legalization, and is worth a good look if you plan on purchasing before the big game on Sunday. The Denver Post also has a special section dedicated to all things legalized pot.

Related: Denver: High people, old people, and a really creepy airport

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