BOULDER — The smooth rhythms of jazz reverberate across a crowded warehouse. Modern art and white string lights decorate plywood walls. Men in suits take long drags from tightly rolled joints in between spoonfuls of royal red shrimp ceviche.
This is the future of recreational marijuana in America and it’s beginning in Colorado.
Mason Jar Events — known for throwing the “swankiest marijuana parties in America” — is behind the burgeoning marijuana dinner party where different types of cannabis are paired with each course like a wine or craft beer. Award-winning chefs cook up farm-to-table fare and serve it on sprawling wooden tables with elaborate floral center pieces, colorful water goblets and plenty of small glass pipes packed with single hits of marijuana. Prim men in black blazers run a “dab station” where they prepare ultra-pure, cannabis oil hits for guests waiting in line. Young and old from all walks of life attend the seasonal dinner, known for bringing sophistication and luxury to a culture mired with negative stereotypes.
Stephanie Byer, an ex-New Yorker who worked in the city for 15 years, was at Mason Jars’ “Winter” dinner at the end of January. She ditched the city back in 2015 for Colorado’s cannabis scene and hasn’t looked back since.
“I quit my job, I sold my fabulous apartment on the Upper West Side, sold everything I owned and I moved out here with three suitcases and two cats and I just threw myself in,” the 48-year-old, former financial executive told The Post between puffs from a bulging blunt. She’s sitting at a table with about two dozen other “cannaseurs” and pauses a minute to taste the barbecued eggplant tostada, passing the blunt to a man across the table.
“I really had no passion for Colorado,” the transplant continued.
“I don’t mountain climb, I don’t ski, I am not your typical Colorado girl… I have so fallen in love with it that I have surprised myself, I am totally hippy dippy now,” Byer laughed.
“I really just want to bring things that I love together. We can pair wines, why not weed?”
She came to Colorado to learn more about the cannabis market and start a business recommending pot-related products to consumers, tailoring the products specifically to their needs.
“When I think about my mom and my friends, they’re not going to come in and go to a dispensary and buy ‘Alaskan thunder f—k,” Byer said.
“They’re trying to figure out what’s available for them in this emerging industry.”
Byer said she’s been a “cannabis enthusiast for 20 years” and has used it from both a medical and recreational standpoint. She said it helped her get off a “ridiculous amount of opiates” and even helped her ex-husband treat his severe depression.
“His therapist actually had him using it medically [in 2001] before it was even remotely on that conversation… it made him sane,” Byer said seriously.
The couple used to grow weed plants, illegally, in their basement in New Jersey.
“It was a hobby, sort of like gardening, except with weed.”
Even though she lives in one of the few states with legal recreational marijuana, Denver bud just doesn’t compare to what she’s used to in the Big Apple.
“I get New York sour diesel specially delivered here!” she exclaimed about her favorite strain of marijuana.
“There’s nothing else like it!”
The hamachi organic salmon tiradito is removed from the table and whisked through a cloud of smoke hanging lazily above the guests. It’s time for them to pull out the “PAX Era” vaporizer and puff a few hits of the “panama punch” to round out the spiciness of the dish.
A graphic designer with fire engine hair and straight cut bangs takes a long pull from the thin, black vaporizer.
“It’s refreshing my pallet,” Jamie Johnston, 28, said between pulls.
“That spiciness [in the salmon] was really spicy and this is definitely helping.”
Across the table, Christopher Spinosa coughs loudly from a bowl hit of “citrus sap”— the flower paired with the eggplant tostada.
“It’s great, everything’s great!” Spinosa choked a laugh with a wide grin, smoke pouring from his teeth.
“It has that fruit overtone and it’s very light… it helped bring out [the flavor],” the procurement manager added after exhaling a bulbous cloud of smoke.
“Normally you’d be smoking in a circle around your friends. Now you’re doing two things that you really enjoy, which is smoking and eating.”
A man wearing a beanie and black hoodie with white stars paints bright green pot leaves on a canvas next to the table, seemingly unaware of the soiree happening behind him. Jazz continues to smooth the room.
Next up on the menu is the braised oxtail with creamy corn porridge and orange-poblano marmalade — paired with a “blue dream” sativa cartridge in a “Neos” electronic vape pen.
For Byer, this is good news. Four courses in, her stomach’s almost full.
“The sativa is going to stimulate your appetite a little,” Byer said between puffs.
“I’m not a big eater, I love food, I just can’t eat a lot of it so I have a few bites, smoke a little and then want a little more because my appetite’s been stimulated.”
A few spots to the right, a pair of jazzy blondes pass the pen back and forth between bites.
“I think it’s fantastic. The terpenes in there definitely compliment the oxtail fantastically,” Ashley Riley, 25, said of the parts of the marijuana plant that give it flavor and smell.
“I think it goes well with the citrus marmalade,” Aleecia Head, 24, added before passing the pen down the table.
Like gravy or green beans are passed on Thanksgiving, joints and weed pens are passed around the room. It’s like the hippy family dinner you always dreamed of attending but was never invited to.
Midway through the second to last course, lobster tamalitos, Jane West appears with a mason jar of small glass pipes stuffed with one hits of weed.
“I have some onesies for you!” the tall brunette announced, holding out the jar and bending slightly, passing the mini-pipes to outstretched arms.
West ran a bong station next to the dab station during the cocktail hour — packing pungent green bowls into blue, oblong glass bongs and bubblers. They’re sleek, sexy and nothing like the pipes you’d find in your neighborhood headshop.
It’s like the hippy family dinner you always dreamed of attending but was never invited to.
West designed them herself because she was tired of the obnoxious, rasta-esque water pipes with elaborate tie dye designs that dominated the market.
“It’s shorter than a wineglass and looks like a table decoration,” the mom and self-proclaimed pot lover told The Post.
“It’s perfect for events like this.”
In between bites of the tamalitos, guests suck down big white clouds of smoke. Across the table, a father and daughter pass a joint between each other.
“Sorry, I had to stop for a dab!” Stephanie Byer giggles with squinted eyes, returning to her seat at the table.
Kendal Norris, the master cannaseur behind the swanky marijuana dinners, heads to the front of the room to address guests before dessert.
“In an industry built on love and healing and a passionate calling for sticking it to the man… we celebrate diversity and honor those that fought so devotedly so we can be here tonight enjoying the fruits of Colorado,” the 42-year-old said with a wide, toothy smile to abounding applause and cheers.
Norris’s inspiration for the events came from the big family dinners she used to attend while growing up in Nashville, Tennessee.
“My mother and grandmother, they threw these elaborate parties and made a big fuss over what flowers they’d use and centerpieces and table cloths and napkins,” Norris told The Post in a soft, southern drawl.
“I thought everybody did that but it turns out they don’t.”
While “no” there definitely wasn’t pot at her grandma’s parties, she incorporates it into her dinners because she’s very “passionate” about the herb.
“I think there’s something in the cannabis plant for everybody, e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y,” she said, enunciating each letter.
Norris said guests unfamiliar with weed, like her 60-year-old parents that attended the last dinner, are comfortable at her events because they look like gatherings they’ve already attended.
“It’s a strong access point. You’ve been to a beautiful restaurant, you’ve seen a wedding, you’ve seen something like this before,” Norris explained with small eyes, black strands framing her face.
“When you walk in and see there’s also cannabis use it doesn’t seem as foreign.”
Norris added events like this are bringing weed “out of the closet.”
“This is a coming out green party. You can come and be ‘canna-curious’ and sit next to a connoisseur and really learn something… people really experience a different side of cannabis than they might have in the past.”
“I really just want to bring things that I love together. We can pair wines, why not weed?”
Back at the table, guests were trying to figure out if dessert had been served or not.
“Dessert’s coming soon, there’s a sundae over there on the next table,” Byer pointed across the room to a floral centerpiece.
“Oh yeah, looks great!” one guest said.
“Wait, is that a candle?” another added.
“Oh my god, it’s a candle centerpiece, the same ones on our table,” Byer laughed, grabbing the red head sitting next to her.
“Does that look like a sundae to you?” Byer asked, four red eyes staring across the room.
“I swear it was a sundae!”
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