The Problem with Stoned Diners in Denver

Photo © vasa / Alamy
By Kate Krader Posted January 01, 2015

Restaurateurs in Denver face a new problem: the random customer who is way too stoned.

The city’s restaurateurs face a new problem: the random customer who is way too stoned.

A few months ago I got into a cab in Denver, and my driver asked where I was from. When I told him New York City, he asked if I wanted to go to a marijuana dispensary. Apparently, I was the first out-of-towner he’d met in a while who wasn’t looking for a good place to buy pot brownies and THC-laced gummy bears.

I’d come to Denver to check out the restaurant scene—where the effects of marijuana legalization are having an unexpected side effect. It’s not that chefs are ruining their short ribs by adding too much vanilla kush (that would be illegal unless the restaurant was licensed) or creating menus specifically for the munchies (though surely an enterprising place will do that soon). It’s that some guests pass out in the middle of dinner because they ingested too much THC beforehand. Chef Jennifer Jasinski, who just opened the seafood spot Stoic & Genuine in Union Station, has seen it happen at her flagship restaurant, Rioja. “Out of nowhere, someone’s head will go down on the table,” she says.

So what does Jasinski do? Kick customers out? Nudge them until they lift their heads out of their plates? It turns out she and her staff do what common sense tells them to: Give the person lots of liquids and try to make everyone else at the table feel less embarrassed; worst-case scenario, call an ambulance. “One time,” says Jasinski, “we asked if there was a doctor in the house. And there was.”

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