It's history: the second cannabis lounge in Colorado just opened on South Broadway. Vape and Play has a framed permit on the wall saying "Cannabis Consumption Establishment." It's a golden ticket. A permission slip to get high in public.
And! But! Although! You, a lifetime stoner, can't help but notice that Vape and Play is located on the Green Mile, a strip of cannabis shops where smokers get high in public, on the sidewalk. And it's near the alley you used to toke up in before yoga and near the concert venue where cannabis vapor fills the air like a fog machine.
So — as the second actually-legal spot to get high in public — what does Vape and Play add?
Well, first, it's nicer than that doorway you normally vape in. For a ticket of $15-$25, you get access to a sleek, modern lounge, like a hipster cocktail bar. The Interior design is by AI Studio, all luxe appointments and slate floor.
"Not a ratty couch kind of a place" is how co-owner Megan Lumpkins puts it. "If you can go to a nice wine bar and have a glass of wine, why can't you have a place to consume cannabis?"
Vape and Play is trying to be better than your basement; they advertise "office hours," like a collaborative workspace.
And there are events, like DJ parties and jazz nights.
Rooster visited on a recent Saturday night for "Vape and Dine," a $100 feast. There were three bougie courses from Culinary Beats — kale and pear salad, seared duck — each dish paired with a marijuana strain provided free by their partner, Apothecary Extracts — like Sour Joker Ambrosia or Nice Pear, and a full-spectrum-hemp infused mocktail from Henep CBD.
(You normally bring your own cannabis. This lets Vape and Play comply with a Denver rule saying you can't use weed where you sell it. Lot of rules 'round here.)
What we're tryna say is that, while Vape and Play is a comfy spot for the lifetime stoner, its ideal customer is unaccustomed to blazing up in their car. The perfect visitor is the upscale tourist dipping a toe into the world of highness, like a Nebraskan school teacher who told her kids marijuana would fry their brains but now suspects that wasn't true. Vape and Play is a cannabis venture trying to lure the cocktail crowd out of Cherry Creek mall, away from Vesta Dipping Grill.
At our Vape and Dine event, a styled guy in slick loafers and no socks glided by done-up blondes in fedoras and pearls. It was a happening. An event. Weed wasn't the background substance here the way it normally is. It was the main attraction.
Vape and Play is super beginner-friendly. Your Vapetender — a trademarked phrase, says Vape and Play — will hold a noob's hand through your entire stonification, so you don't over-consume, freak out, have a bad trip, end up convincing yourself you're having a heart attack.
How? Careful monitoring. In the foyer, you're greeted by an employee who takes down your weed history: is this your first inhale, or do you use THC eye drops and THC asthma inhalers and THC suppositories? You're given a colored wristband — green or red or whatever — that lets all employees know whether you're a cannabis ninja, or whether they should speak slowly while they load light bowls. It's a genius system.
In the back, under a ceiling like an Old West saloon, where a bar would have taps, there are super high-end vape machines from a company called Bad Penny. These crazy contraptions funnel the vapor through a metal spiral cooled by dry ice. Dry freaking ice. So when the vapor reaches your mouth, it's cooler than room temperature. This lets Vape and Play comply with a Colorado rule banning smoke indoors. Also: less coughing.
Your Vapetender guides you through the whole thing like your older sibling (hopefully) did when he gave you your first joint.
In fact, Vape and Play is run by a family: son Taylor Rosean, mom Megan Lumpkins and "pop" Kerwin Lumpkins.
Their family hasn't always been deep into weed: the parents spent their lives in straight careers, health care and engineering. You get the feeling the son gave his folks their first joint.
Their family's change is emblematic of the transition in cannabis itself.
Vape and Play is surprisingly … wholesome.
"It's funny," mused Kerwin, "when Taylor was in high school, cannabis was the enemy. And now it's the family business."
(And, as an aside, Vape and Play disconfirms the pessimist's grumble that nothing ever changes, governments don't listen, the Deep State will never let us be free. All it took for Vape and Play to open was for the owners to endure a year of meetings with city officials and neighborhood associations and legislators and a shitload of cannabis lawyers. Also, as an aside, the first cannabis lounge was The Coffee Joint. And, of course, there are speakeasy clubs where you can smoke cannabis; they're "private" … but joining them is easy … but the cops have their eyes on them. California is now the country's leader in pot clubs.)
So, yes: even though a rulebreaker can turn any shop into a pot shop, cannabis does need its own legal places, in part for pleasant, happy families like the Lumpkins/Roseans. Not everybody is into stoned civil disobedience, blazing up behind bushes. Some folks like rules, and get paranoid when them break them. If alcohol users have a whole world open to them — gorgeous patios and rooftop decks and bowling alleys to drink openly — you shouldn't have to sneak your vapes in closed spaces like church choir lofts and airplane bathrooms — hiding it both from the kiddos and the geriatrics — as though Colorado didn't legalize weed with an initiative titled "Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol" but instead a bill called "Let the Filthy Stoners Stay Home."
Lots of stoners want to be OUT. With the family, no less.