Jump to content

Weed-Happy States Could Experience A Marijuana Tourism Boom


Recommended Posts

DENVER — Hit the slopes — and then a bong?


Marijuana legalization votes this week in Colorado and Washington state don’t just set up an epic state-federal showdown on drug law for residents. The measures also open the door for marijuana tourism.




Both marijuana measures make marijuana possession in small amounts OK for all adults over 21 — not just state residents but visitors, too. Tourists may not be able to pack their bowls along with their bags, but as long as out-of-state tourists purchase and use the drug while in Colorado or Washington, they wouldn’t violate the marijuana measures.


Of course, that’s assuming the recreational marijuana measures take effect at all. That was very much in doubt Friday as the states awaited word on possible lawsuits from the U.S. Department of Justice asserting federal supremacy over drug law.


So the future of marijuana tourism in Colorado and Washington is hazy. But that hasn’t stopped rampant speculation, especially in Colorado, where tourism is the No. 2 industry thanks to the Rocky Mountains and a vibrant ski industry.


The day after Colorado approved recreational marijuana by a wide margin, the headline in the Aspen Times asked, “Aspendam?” referring to Amsterdam’s marijuana cafes.


Colorado’s tourism director, Al White, tried to downplay the prospect of a new marijuana tourism boom.

“It won’t be as big a deal as either side hopes or fears,” White said.

Maybe not. But many are asking about marijuana tourism.


Ski resorts are “certainly watching it closely,” said Jennifer Rudolph of Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association that represents 21 Colorado resorts.


Any plans for an adults-only après lounge where skiers could get more than an Irish coffee to numb their aches?

“There’s a lot that remains to be seen,” Rudolph said with a chuckle. “I guess you could say we’re waiting for the smoke to clear.”

The Colorado counties where big ski resorts are located seem to have made up their minds. The marijuana measure passed by overwhelming margins, with more support than in less visited areas.


The home county of Aspen approved the marijuana measure more than 3-to-1. More than two-thirds approved marijuana in the home county of Colorado’s largest ski resort, Vail. The home county of Telluride ski resort gave marijuana legalization its most lopsided victory, nearly 8 in 10 favoring the measure.


“Some folks might come to Colorado to enjoy some marijuana as will be their right. So what?” said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the Colorado marijuana campaign.



Washington state already sees a version of marijuana tourism.


Every summer on the shores of the Puget Sound, Seattle is host to “Hempfest,” which according to organizers attracted around 250,000 people over three days this year. For those three days, people are largely left alone to smoke publically at a local park, even as police stand by.

“People travel to Seattle from other states and countries to attend Seattle Hempfest every year to experience the limited freedom that happens at the event,” said executive director Vivian McPeak. “It’s reasonable to assume that people will travel to Washington assuming that the federal government doesn’t interfere.”


McPeak draw parallels to Amsterdam where an annual “Cannabis Cup” attracts tourists from all over the world and Vancouver, British Columbia, which has lax marijuana rules that have borne marijuana cafes drawing travelers.


Amsterdam’s marijuana tourism is in a hazy spot these days, though. The incoming Dutch government suggested a national “weed pass” that would have been available only to residents and that would have effectively banned tourists from Amsterdam’s marijuana cafes. The “weed pass” idea was scrapped, but under a provisional governing pact unveiled last week, Dutch cities can bar foreigners from weed shops if they choose.






In Denver, some feared that the Colorado marijuana vote could deter tourists, not to mention business visitors.

“Colorado’s brand will be damaged, and we may attract fewer conventions and see a decline in leisure travel,” Visit Denver CEO Richard Scharf said in a statement before the vote.


Colorado’s governor opposed the measure but said after its passage that he didn’t envision marijuana tourism materializing.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said. “They’re going to flock here to buy marijuana as if they’re going to take it back? On an airplane? That seems unlikely to me.”


Colorado’s measure specifically bans public use of the drug. But guidelines for commercial sales are still to be worked out. The state’s 536 medical marijuana dispensaries are banned from allowing on-site consumption, but lawmakers could set different rules for recreational marijuana shops.


Marijuana backers downplayed the impact on tourism. Aldworth pointed out that pot-smoking tourists wouldn’t exactly be new. Colorado ski slopes already are dotted with “smoke shacks,” old mining cabins that have been illicitly repurposed as places to smoke pot out of the cold. And the ski resort town of Breckenridge dropped criminal penalties for marijuana use two years ago.

“Some folks come to Colorado and enjoy some marijuana while they are here today,” Aldworth said.

The sheriff of the county including Aspen was sanguine about the prospects of pot-smoking visitors.

“For me, it’s going to be live and let live. If people want to come to Colorado because pot is legal — and that’s the sole reason — it’s up to them,” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo told The Aspen Times. “I am not the lifestyle police.”


Associated Press reporter Manuel Valdes in Seattle contributed to this report.


Find Kristen Wyatt on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good Post LHB! I mite have to go check out the slopes! lol not that I can ski on them, but I could burn one in my condo with a veiw of the slopes and have just as much fun! lol It is free to dream isnt it!


Im actualy starting to believe I will see mj legal in all states in my life time, I never thought id be legal in any way to partake in mj, so Im already happy as a witch in a broom factory! lol




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Me and the wifey are planning a trip for sure, I see Amsterado or Coloradam (your choice) as the new hot spot for the cannabis oriented traveler. Oh and another thing Sheriff Joe DiSalvo has my vote any day of the week, this guy is my person of the week pick for sure! Breaking news,,,,Vacation plans on hold....new law will not take effect until 2014!

Edited by Hawkind
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Me and the wifey are planning a trip for sure, I see Amsterado or Coloradam (your choice) as the new hot spot for the cannabis oriented traveler. Oh and another thing Sheriff Joe DiSalvo has my vote any day of the week, this guy is my person of the week pick for sure! Breaking news,,,,Vacation plans on hold....new law will not take effect until 2014!


no it takes effect on dec 1, less than a month away, at least that is what i read this morning on yahoo news! or the A.P not sure!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

..from an earlier posting....


Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) has not scheduled a call with Holder but said her state is “entering uncharted waters.”

The law there goes into effect Dec. 9. Gregoire’s spokesman, Cory Curtis, said the governor has questions about what Washington should do in the next month.

Colorado Amendment 64 would take effect 30 days after the secretary of state certifies the initiative, which will be Jan. 5, according to Brown.




I thought this all sounded familiar. Check out the post by Purklize for a fair warning.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Colorado and Washington legalise marijuana: what it really means


No sooner had the voters of Colorado and Washington passed measures to legalise marijuana than the predictions began: visions – both overexcited and apocalyptic – of busloads of stoned tourists turning the states into Rocky mountain or Pacific north-west versions of Amsterdam.

However such speculation may be premature. There are a few more hurdles before legally buying and selling marijuana in the US can become reality. But in the interests of answering the age-old question "Where can I legally buy a joint?", here's a summary of what the votes really mean for the law in Colorado and Washington.


Colorado amendment 64 passed on 6 November 2012, by 53.3% to 46.7%.

The amendment allows "personal use and regulation of marijuana" for adults 21 and older. It also has a section which will address the legal cultivation, manufacture and sale of the drug.

However, nothing will change until the vote is certified, which is scheduled to happen on 6 December.

After that, those 21 and above will be legally allowed to grow up to to six marijuana plants, as long as they are in a locked space. People in the same age bracket will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and to give up to one ounce of the drug as a gift to other people 21 years old or above. Smoking marijuana in public will be specifically banned.

The new measures do not just apply to people who live in Colorado – visitors are subject to the law too.

It will be longer before people in Colorado can legally buy and sell marijuana, however.

Amendment 64 has a section which will address the legal cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis, but the details have to be thrashed out in the state legislature.

The new law mandates that the state adopt a regulatory framework for allowing businesses to sell marijuana by July 2013, according to USA Today. This could include provisions for shops selling the drug and the opening of cannabis cafes like those in Amsterdam.

But even then, it will be January 2014 before the first state-approved marijuana stores actually open.

Before all that, there is the quite real possibility of an injunction by the federal government, overruling amendment 64. Federal laws rule marijuana illegal and in theory have power over state rules.

The Drug Enforcement Administration this week reiterated its stance that marijuana is an illegal drug and that possessing, using or selling it is a crime.

"The Drug Enforcement Administration's enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," the DEA said in a press statement.

"In enacting the controlled substances act, Congress determined that marijuana is a schedule I control[ed] substance. The Department of Justice is reviewing the ballot initiatives and we have no additional comment at this time."


Washington's initiative measure No 502 passed on 6 November, by 55% to 45%.

Like in Colorado, the measure will come into effect on 6 December, but it will also take longer for some parts of the law to be implemented.

As of 6 December, it will be legal for people over 21 in Washington to possess up to an ounce of marijuana. Unlike in Colorado, however, people will not be allowed to grow their own marijuana plants, unless they are medically authorised to do so.

Like in Colorado there will be a significant wait before provisions are put in place allowing the legal sale and cultivation of marijuana.

Initiative measure 502 had an "implentation date" of 1 December 2013, by which date licensing and taxation portions of the initiative should be set out.

Only after that will individuals 21 or older be able to apply for a license to grow and sell marijuana. It will cost $250 to apply for the license, according to the measure, and an extra $1,000 a year to keep it.

"Licensed marijuana retailers could not sell any products other than marijuana and items used to store or use marijuana," 502 states.

The laws on smoking marijuana are already very relaxed in parts of Washington. Seattle's city attorney has a policy "of not filing charges for simple marijuana possession", according to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, while people attending the three day Hempfest in the city are generally allowed to smoke cannabis.

That said, the new laws outlined in Washington's measure 502, like Colorado's amendment 64, could be overruled at the federal level.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...