Inside the marijuana tourism industry

One of the biggest trends in marijuana news as of late has been marijuana tourism. States at the forefront of marijuana legalization, like Colorado, Washington, and now California are seeing boosts in visitors who come specifically to experience high-quality cannabis products legally. Many companies are capitalizing on the trend by offering tours or other activities centered around marijuana. These activities attract a diverse crowd. Many people who otherwise might never get into cannabis will take part because it’s a safe, legal, and unique experience. However, many marijuana tourism companies hit legal roadblocks, as their states are still developing regulations around the legality of these activities.

Dispensary Tours

In Colorado, California, and a few other states where marijuana is legal, going to a dispensary can be a luxury experience in itself. These high-end dispensaries sell a wide variety of unique cannabis-infused products, and knowledgeable staff guide you through the experience to help you find the perfect strain for your needs. In this sense, the experience of dispensary is similar to visiting a high-end winery, which is something that many visitors enjoy about the experience. Some Californian companies are even offering ‘wine and weed’ tours, where a bus takes you to local dispensaries and wineries. They appeal to a wide variety of people and really break the stereotypes around marijuana by making it a luxury experience.

Cannabis Activities

You’ve probably seen your local bar offer events like trivia, painting, dance nights, and more. Many cannabis companies are taking a lead from this idea, and offering things like ‘puff and paint’, which is an art class where participants get to try local strains of cannabis. Many of these events are partnered with local food and drink providers, so participants will get to enjoy food from local restaurants and local craft beers while they smoke and have fun. Another popular cannabis activity is cooking classes, where participants learn how to make their own edibles. These cooking classes introduce a broader idea of what types of foods can be edibles. Tourists in weed-friendly cities should check local event calendars to find activities like this to enjoy.

Inside the Process

Another interesting facet of the marijuana tourism industry has been an interest in learning how cannabis products are produced. Many commercial growing facilities now offer tours to visitors, so you can get an inside look at how your leaf is created. Many of these tours target people who are completely new to marijuana, with an in-depth explanation of the different strains and the opportunity to sample them. It’s also a way for growers, dispensaries, and other local businesses in the marijuana industry to partner and increase their customer base.

Cannabis Clubs

One of the biggest challenges has been providing a place for tourists to legally consume their cannabis once they purchase it. Although there aren’t many open yet, we can expect to see a growth in cannabis clubs in the states that are experiencing marijuana tourism. These clubs are privately owned spaces where visitors can bring their marijuana to smoke. Since they aren’t dispensaries, they can’t sell marijuana, but they can sell snacks and other products to enhance the experience. Visitors can purchase a day pass or buy a membership. There are already plenty of these clubs in California, particularly in San Francisco, and Nevada is currently looking to develop many of their own as well.

Cannabis-Friendly Lodging

While the majority of hotels don’t allow cannabis consumption in their rooms, there are an increasing number of lodging options that do allow it. Rental sites like Airbnb now have some properties where the owners allow cannabis consumption – look for ‘420 friendly’ when searching for properties. There are also some boutique hotels that allow cannabis as well. For example, Hicksville Pines Bud and Breakfast in Idyllwild, California allows cannabis consumption in some private rooms and in common spaces. It’s not just small businesses that are allowing cannabis consumption either – The Standard in West Hollywood is looking to open a dispensary on their property soon, and they currently allow cannabis consumption in their outdoor spaces, such as their famous pool. Denver also has plenty of cannabis friendly hotels, with Nativ being the most popular. Rooms have balconies where you can enjoy a smoke and a view, and you’ll find CBD-infused treats in the lobby.

Cannabis Festivals

If you want to enjoy cannabis products and make friends with other cannabis enthusiasts at the same time, then cannabis festivals are a fun way that you can enjoy cannabis tourism. At festivals, you will find booths from tons of local cannabis growers as well as accessory brands. There’s also typically live entertainment, and there are education efforts as well as activism to help get people involved in the legalization movement. The National Cannabis Festival, CannaFest, and Cannabis Cup are all examples of well-known cannabis festivals that have really made an impact in the industry. There are some cannabis festivals with a political element, but many are just for recreation. Just like in the wine industry, there are also growers’ competitions, which gives some of the top cannabis producers chances to earn awards.

Economic Impact

States who have legalized marijuana stand to experience huge economic benefits from this boom in tourism. Since marijuana is heavily taxed, states who legalize it will get a huge windfall that they can use to benefit their citizens. For example, Colorado has drawn in over $6 billion in marijuana revenue in the five years since it’s been legalized, much of which has gone towards the state’s education programs. And there’s a huge interest in marijuana tourism – after the 2016 election, California saw a nearly 300 percent increase in online searches for marijuana tourism. Colorado’s marijuana tourism has grown by over 50 percent in the years since it’s been legal and is showing no signs of slowing down. When managed effectively, marijuana tourism revenue could completely change a state’s economy.

Legal Challenges

Since marijuana is still illegal on the federal level in the United States, this poses some issues for companies looking to offer marijuana tourism to their customers. Many banks will not do business with marijuana companies because of the legal risk on the federal level. Because of this, many marijuana tourism companies are cash only, which can be limiting for customers. There also aren’t regulations around the use of marijuana in public spaces, which can make things difficult for tourism providers. Many companies are getting around this by creating their own private venues for consumption. However, it’s likely that these regulations will change, as marijuana tourism is drawing a huge amount of revenue.

At this point, it’s difficult to predict the future of marijuana tourism. While it’s getting a lot of attention and many people are embracing it, there are plenty of hurdles that prevent the industry from growing further. At the forefront of the marijuana tourism industry are companies who want to provide unique experiences for visitors, and are breaking stereotypes about marijuana consumption in the process. It’s likely that these businesses will be the ones to enjoy continued success as attitudes towards cannabis around the country start to change.


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