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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Updated: April 18, 3:34 PM ET
High and outside

By Rick Reilly
ESPN.com

DENVER -- Every day is 4/20 in my hometown.

You walk along the 16th Street Mall some days and it smells like a Jamaican bobsled party.

When I look out my living-room window this Sunday, on 4/20, I'll see competitors arriving at the convention center for the Cannabis Cup. (Would that be called a "bake-off?")

Marijuana
A Denver "budtender" says most of their customers are sporting out-of-state gear.

You go to a Colorado Rockies game now, you see a lot of people sucking on mints, gum drops and lollipops. They're not kids with a sweet tooth. They're adults with a hash habit. It's edible marijuana.

"Hey, it's baseball," a 24-year-old Chicagoan named Sean told me at the LoDo Wellness Center marijuana dispensary this week in Denver's Lower Downtown district. "It's a very chill game. You need to chill."

You need to chill, America.

Recreational marijuana is as legal as beer in Colorado now. It's everywhere you want to be, like it or not.

I know a Broncos fan who bought so much pot for his Super Bowl party, he may have thought he was actually in the game.

Wait. Have we been watching the Puppy Bowl for the last hour?

You smell vapes in the cheap seats at Avalanche games now. Nuggets at Nuggets games. Skunk during the seventh-inning stench. There's a reason they call them the high seats.

It's as much a part of our lives here now as ski racks. The Colorado Springs airport installed pot amnesty boxes to help travelers who forget they can't take the stuff to other states. I even smell it on the free 16th Street Mall bus sometimes.

Dude, are we going in circles?

This month, Denver became the first city in history with both an MLB team and recreational pot stores -- and don't think the players haven't noticed. There's a story going around town about a "representative" from a visiting MLB team (read: equipment guy) walking into a shop with a "grocery list" and walking out with an "armful" of stuff. There's no limit for out-of-state residents on edibles, only smokables.

No wonder they call Coors Field the Happiest Place on Earth.

But don't judge Coloradans. "I'd say 75 to 80 percent of our customers are from out of state," says the "budtender" at MMJ America, which is four blocks from the ballpark. (He wouldn't give his name -- or perhaps he forgot it. It's like Snoop's living room in there.) "Lots of baseball fans wearing the opposing team's stuff. Lot of New York and Chicago fans."

And what do they buy? Edibles. Because it's illegal to smoke pot in public places like arenas and ballparks (please!), fans buy THC-coated treats that are easy to sneak through the turnstiles. Some even eat them before they go in. This way the first pitch and the first buzz arrive at about the same time.

Most popular are the mints ($32), the gum drops ($32), the Colorado candy bar ($37), the chocolate rounds ($32), and the mango-flavored Canna Punch ($37). There's a sign in one pot store that reads: "Our Munchies Give You the Munchies."

Maybe we need new lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"?

Buy me some gum drops and choco rounds;
I don't care if I ever come down!

"We get some ex-Nuggets in here," LoDo Wellness Center owner Don Andrews says. "We get all kinds of sports team personnel. We get athletes. We get fans. We get everybody."

LoDo Wellness
LoDo Wellness Center owner Don Andrews says team personnel, current and former players and fans have visited his store.

And they don't get just sports customers. The general manager, Ryan, says they've had some of Miley Cyrus' dance crew in, some of the Cirque de Soleil troop and a bunch of Justin Timberlake's crew.

There are pro-pot billboards in town. There are smoke-friendly hotels opening. "We open at 10 a.m. on Broncos Sundays," Starbuds owner Brian Ruden says. "Line out the door, lobby fills up. Dispensary fills up. We're crankin', rockin' and rollin' till about noon, and then it becomes a ghost town. Everybody goes home, watches the game. And that's every Broncos game."

(Wait. Do you think this is why Peyton Manning recently bought 21 Papa John's pizza restaurants in the Denver area?)

Don't sit there and tsk-tsk us, America. It's probably coming to your state sooner or later. Twenty-one states plus D.C. already allow medicinal marijuana with a valid illness (please!). Recreational pot stores will open in Washington in June. Florida is sure to have it on the ballot soon, and the latest poll in California shows they're ready to light up legally.

Me, I've got no big problem with it. Ninety-five percent of the violence and chaos and ugliness I've seen from fans and athletes involved alcohol, not pot. A linebacker smoking ganja is probably not going to get mad and bounce his wife off the walls. A linebacker smoking ganja rarely gets off the couch.

And what's wrong with athletes using it to relax -- and heal? You wonder why most estimates of pot use in the NFL are 50 percent and higher? It's partly because guys are hurting and Vicodin can end up a bigger problem than the pain. Now there's a cannabis-infused pain cream made by Apothecanna -- available in Colorado only -- that I'm told gets great results.

Weed isn't a performance-enhancing drug anyway. If some fans say it's a game-enhancing one, who am I to argue? Which game needs enhancing more than baseball?

Playing baseball is best on natural grass. Why can't watching it be, too?

ESPN's Kris Schwartz contributed information to this column.