Marijuana Tourism got two thumbs up in the U.S. elections earlier this month as the states of Washington and Colorado made selling, buying and using cannabis legal. Never mind the federal law prohibits any of that; the voters have spoken and opened the door for what could be promoted as Weed Weekends, Bong Backpacking and a variety of marijuana-related tourism options.
State government leaders were quick to put the brakes on a massive migration to either state, saying a lot of details still have to be worked out. Colorado’s governor opposed the legalization vote but indicated after its passage that he didn’t see marijuana tourism taking over the state and its iconic tourist attractions.
”I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a Boston.com report. ”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.”
Still, while public use of marijuana is not part of the deal, possession and personal use very much is. That applies not to just state residents, but to visitors also.
Anyone 21 or older can legally posses up to an ounce of recreational marijuana in Colorado and grow up to six plants. That’s the law. On a legal focus, they can’t use it in public, the rules for medical marijuana (already a $1.7 billion industry), are unchanged and the “possession no problem” element clock starts ticking now. Previous marijuana crimes stick.
Disregarding the federal law for a moment, these states could indeed legislate the implementation of a state-licensed marijuana industry. Much like states control and tax alcoholic beverages, mostly free from federal intervention, millions in revenue could be generated to support otherwise underfunded programs like education.
It’s not like Colorado and Washington are new to the world of marijuana either and the recent vote to legalize it could be viewed as a natural progression.
Colorado and Washington are part of 18 states and Washington, D.C., that have legalized medical marijuana for people with medical conditions like cancer, nausea, multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches and chronic pain.
In Colorado, many ski slopes already have old mining cabins that have been turned into ”smoke shacks,” places to smoke marijuana out of the wind and cold. Breckenridge, Colorado, dropped criminal penalties for marijuana use two years ago.
In Washington state, for over 20 years, travelers have come from all over the world for Seattle’s HempFest (pictured), an annual gathering that advocates the decriminalization of marijuana. This year, 250,000 attended as police looked on.
Will the entire states of Colorado and Washington become much like one huge Amsterdam, where without trying all that hard visitors can freely enjoy marijuana? Probably not.
We’re not apt to see a “World’s Largest Pot Plant” attraction on highway road signs in Colorado any time soon and Seattle probably won’t have Space Needle-shaped bongs in the near future.
In Colorado, it will be a year or more until the state has a system in place to allow retail sales, but that probably won’t stop celebrities who support the idea