Flying High

Trippin': Is Pot Tourism Taking Off in Houston?

You don't have to be crazy to bring marijuana home with you from Denver, but it helps.

February 21, 2017

Shutterstock 250300237 szhfdg

Image: Shutterstock

Montrose resident Eric Weymouth would rather you didn’t know how he scores weed. He’d rather you weren’t aware that it’s high-grade stuff, or that getting it involves neither shady dealers nor the underworld drug trade. And he’d really rather you didn’t know how cheap it costs.

“But what’s the point of a good crime if you can’t brag about it?” he laughs.

And with that, Weymouth invites us to accompany him on one of his quarterly pot buying trips. We beg off, saying we can’t afford a flight to Colorado, where Weymouth—not his real name, obviously—has been making regular visits since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2014.

“You can’t afford 38 bucks?” he wonders.

What, now?


His unwitting partner in crime is Frontier Airlines, the Denver-based carrier whose rapid expansion has rocked the industry, an expansion fueled in part by deeply discounted fares and regular fire sales on unsold inventory. Flights to the Mile High City can indeed be found for $19 each way on occasion, although at that price you’re only allowed one personal item, don’t get to choose your seat, and a Coke costs $1.99. On the flip side, it’s 19 bucks to Denver.

“Sure,” we say.

On a rainy morning at Bush Intercontinental not long afterward, Weymouth waves hello to us in Terminal A. If there remains such a thing as a stereotypical pothead, he is not one. He is fiftyish, has a belly, a good job—in the health care industry, natch—and his preferred traveling attire is a blazer and pressed chinos.  

Within seconds of takeoff, Weymouth is asleep. We decide to pass the time thinking back on the drug-fueled hijinks of our long-ago youth, which kills just 15 minutes, as we cannot recall partaking of anything more illicit than a few Orange Tommys at the old MacDonald’s Drive-Inn on Main St. Still, time flies anyway. Our Frontier flight is a pleasant one, especially by no-frills-airline standards, and soon we are descending over the Rockies, landing in Denver under a cloudless sky.

Energized by the thought that only a few miles stand between him and his pot, Weymouth almost skips out of the airport. Within minutes, his Nissan Versa rental arrives at one of several marijuana dispensaries in the vicinity. The array of weed-fueled vapes, oils, lotions, buds and edibles is dizzying.

We are back at the airport a few hours later, Weymouth’s carry-on packed with an admittedly small amount of personal-use booty. Then again, the airport is filled with signs warning that “it is unlawful to possess, consume, use, display, transfer, distribute, sell, transport or grow marijuana.”

“They’re looking for bombs and guns, not this stuff,” Weymouth says, dismissing our concern. Besides, on the few occasions the TSA has actually come across pot in carry-on bags, they’ve simply asked travelers to throw it away, he claims. We are not convinced, especially given the fearsome, omnipresent security. Why doesn’t he just go to a Denver post office and mail it home to himself, we wonder.

“That’s interstate trafficking. That’s a federal crime. You can get prison for that.” And taking it on a plane from Colorado to Texas isn’t trafficking? “We’ll be fine.”

Notwithstanding Weymouth’s assurances, beads of sweat begin forming on our brow as the security line inches forward. We know how this ends: arrest, interrogation and a Turkish prison cell. We’ve seen Midnight Express.

“Look at you, so nervous,” Weymouth says with a mocking smile, calmly removing the laptop from his bag and setting it in a bin, which sails smoothly into the screening machine, followed closely by the valise with his pot. By the time we finally reach the x-ray machine, our head throbs and the veins pulse in our neck. 

“Whose bag is this?” we hear a TSA agent call out. Our life flashes before our eyes. We knew it. We will tell the TSA that we hardly know Weymouth, we are just a journalist along for the ride, it’s just a stupid slice-of-life story. They will not believe us. Turkish prison anyway.

We look over to find the agent holding not Weymouth’s bag but our own. Consumed by panic, we’d forgotten to take out our own laptop for screening. We mumble something, feeling faint as the agent unzips the bag. A pair of reading glasses and a few packs of Trident tumble out with the computer. “Sorry about that,” he says.

“You gotta watch this guy,” Weymouth tells the agent, who smiles as he walks the bag back for re-screening. We want to laugh but can’t.

Frontier Airlines operates twice daily nonstop flights from IAH to Denver. One-way fares can sometimes be found for $19, although $38 was the cheapest price we could find at press time.   

Show Comments