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Cannabis tourism: the next big thing since legalization

Worldwide, cannabis tourism isn’t a new concept. In fact, in Europe, it’s been a common trope – especially for students and younger people – to travel to legal countries purposefully to gain access to a drug that, across the continent, is still mostly illegal. Amsterdam is the classic example of this, with individuals from all over the world taking holidays to the beautiful destination for far more than its canals and architecture.

But in the US, the concept of cannabis tourism within its borders is a relatively new phenomenon – one brought on by the recent decriminalization and legalization of marijuana across a multitude of states. This phenomenon was first seen back in 2014 when Colorado became the first state to legalize the drug officially, and the state saw a sudden rapid uptick in the number of visitors taking holidays for the specific purpose of accessing cannabis.

According to CNBC, between 2013 and 2018, 25% of individuals who visited Colorado on vacation traveled there for the specific purpose of accessing the drug; showing that cannabis news indeed travels fast. As more and more of America has woken up to the idea of legalization, it’s become the ideal target for tour and travel companies, especially those looking to add extra appeal to their vacation packages or weekend getaways.

There’s no doubt that cannabis is a more significant pull for tourists, including Americans visiting other states, than ever before. This is, in part, thanks to the massive change in perception that the USA has been experiencing over the last few years, with marijuana transforming in many states from a taboo subject into a day-to-day occurrence. This is especially true when you consider the vast rise in cannabis-related consumer products, from kombucha to hand cream, tinctures to chocolate bars. Marijuana is no longer the scary topic it once was, and this is reflected in its advertisement as a luxury addition to a range of tours, especially those surrounding the wellness and creativity realms.

One excellent example of the PR transformation marijuana has undergone is California’s own ‘wine and weed’ tours, a shiny and new alternative to the standard wine tours the state has offered for decades. Adding an extra luxury onto the trip – allowing visitors and parties to visit both wineries and dispensaries in equal measure – further promotes cannabis as an indulgent, slightly naughty but perfectly acceptable product that’s ideal for a little relaxation after a long day. Cannabis tourism is here in a big way and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

As one of the first states actively involved in the legalization of cannabis – and pioneers of the change in perception for the drug – Colorado has seen first-hand what increased marijuana tourism can provide to the country as a whole. Now a booming industry, the famous and well known ‘puff, pass & paint’ classes originated in this state, in addition to a range of different touring options and even walking tours. In many cases, these tourist-heavy activities come across as more artisan than anything else, from seeing the workings behind a cannabis farm – in a similar way to children visiting a traditional farm on a school visit – to viewing demonstrations of glass pipe blowing and the creation of the products surrounding the industry.

As cannabis becomes a more popular consumer product, beyond its medical uses, it has become a source of play for many individuals. This is further demonstrated by Nevada’s massive increase in marijuana revenue in the last year. Despite cannabis being banned from the actual Vegas Strip, many tourist-friendly pot lounges and smoking parlors have popped up. They feature the same level of spectacle and appeal that can be seen in the rest of Vegas, with anything from laser graffiti to water shows included at many of the locations. As veterans of the entertainment and tourism industries, it’s no wonder that Nevada is getting in on a piece of the pie in their brash, unique and out-there way.

This variability in tourism – from the lights and shows of Vegas to the relatively gentle and calm walking tours or behind the scenes events available in Colorado – means there’s more choice than ever for individuals that enjoy marijuana in all kinds of different ways. From luxurious, chilled-out vacations to exciting all-in expeditions, the cannabis industry has grown at such a rate that there’s plenty of room for all types of holiday to be accounted for. For tourists, this also means holidays that aren’t specifically cannabis-related – but still contain marijuana in some form or other – are now more accessible.

One of the exciting things to consider in the way that the tourism industry around cannabis has grown is the parallels it has with alcohol – another substance once-illegal in many parts of the USA, even for a brief time. While some vacation-goers may prefer a raucous weekend in New Orleans or Las Vegas, others would prefer the slow-paced wine tours or brewery visits available in more rustic, artisan parts of the country; including much of California, coincidentally. When viewed side-by-side, it’s easy to see how cannabis tourism has fallen into a similar niche. Many of the tourism opportunities available connect with the culture behind the plant as much as the use of marijuana itself.

This point is especially poignant when you consider the newly-legal state of cannabis. Unlike alcohol, which has been legal and around for a long enough time for local laws and regulations to be in place, cannabis has none of the same paperwork surrounding its use yet. By default, legalization of cannabis only includes use within the home and at specific venues. However, certain top marijuana destinations like Denver are leading the way for better regulation, with specific licenses required for tour operators working with cannabis.

One of the areas in which regulations are beginning to become more defined is bus tours, one of the most popular forms of cannabis tourism across the USA. In both Washington and Nevada, smoking isn’t allowed on moving vehicles, while in Colorado, Oregon, and California, this is legal and is often achieved through ventilated driver spaces separated from passengers for maximum safety. While for some tourism businesses these new incoming regulations may seem a problem, over time, these different processes will help shape the landscape of cannabis tourism as a whole. This will allow for a more professional and regulated experience for all vacationers to help maintain standards of safety and ensure wellbeing is the top priority of everyone involved.

As for where the cannabis tourist industry is heading in the future, there’s much more to come. As more and more states legalize pot, the range of different tourist attractions available will likely become even more varied and distinct. It’s also expected more tourism will be based on the local culture and style of the area in which it is grown, dispensed, and used. With more regulations being revealed each passing week and legalization still ongoing across the US, it’s likely to be a while before we see the final results of legalization on the tourism system. But the roots are already starting to take hold, and there’s no doubt that cannabis tourism is here to stay.

The post Cannabis tourism: the next big thing since legalization appeared first on Marijuana Experts.

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