A secondary cannabis industry that’s sprouting up is tourism and, according to leaders in the field, business is blooming.
With widening legalization for medical and recreational use, old stoners, cannabis-curious adventurers and just plain folks are starting to realize – now, you can get high and go places and do stuff. For many travelers, that’s huge. The days of standing in your hotel room shower, blowing stinky smoke into the ceiling fan are over.
“We’re [expanding to] six cities in five states, as of 2017,” said Heidi Keyes, co-owner of Colorado Cannabis Tours. “We have Denver; then there’s Portland, D.C., Las Vegas, Oakland and San Francisco.”
CCT’s complete menu of packages, tours and activities is primarily focused in the Denver area where cannabis tourism has been a thing since 2014. This year, they’ll first bring the “Puff, Pass & Paint” art workshop to expansion cities, with 420-friendly tours, accommodations and more activities to follow.
“We’re referred to as the Air BnB of cannabis,” BudandBreakfast.com co-founder Sean Roby said. Bud and Breakfast offers 420-friendly accommodations in private properties, as well as booking for discreet hotels and resorts that may have a few cannabis-friendly rooms available. Not everyone wants to be known as the local Psychedelic Student Hostel. Not yet. And even with the public increasingly in favor of recreational use, there are still individuals who wish to remain low profile about cannabis.
Bud and Breakfast offers help with travel to exotic, global destinations, as well as domestic locales. Roby works with a network of trusted travel guides outside the U.S.; they keep current with changing local regulations in their areas, as well as assisting guests. Roby explained, at first, many of his clients were people with a legitimate need to medicate while traveling, often being treated for a variety of serious medical conditions.
Both Keyes and Roby agree that if there is a typical cannabis tourist, they are Baby Boomer age with expendable income.
So, where can you go and what can you do?
1) Colorado – Because recreational marijuana has been available in Colorado since 2014, the related tourism industry there is the most established, domestically.
Arriving in Denver, you can be picked up at the airport in a limo stocked with a ready-to-imbibe treat. Then, once at the hotel, you’ll receive a courtesy vape rig at the desk with your room keys, schedule your cannabis oil massage, and then decide how you want to spend the rest of your time – Tour a weed farm? Go dispensary hopping? Have a curated, cannabinoid-infused meal? It’s all there, and those are only a few of the cannabis-related activities. Denver also recently approved recreational marijuana lounges (though consuming in public places is not allowed).
“We offer all kinds of packages, because we know there’s not one type of cannabis user,” Keyes said.
Colorado Cannabis Tour’s most deluxe package is a 5-day ski trip to Winter Park, CO. You’ll be picked up at the airport, as described. On your way to the quaint ski town, stop in Denver at a dispensary and (with picture ID) stock up on goodies for your getaway.
Once in Winter Park, you get a king suite with fireplace, as well as a ski pass for Mary Jane Mountain (the real name – we kid you not) and other runs. Enjoy close-by restaurants and shops, all within walking distance. That helps you avoid the whole “buzzed driving” concern.
2) Seattle – We talked to Melissa Flynn, co-owner of Bed, Baked and Beyond.
With her partner, Abil, they’ve created a 420-friendly bed and breakfast with lots of extra, interesting perks. Guests can rent a room or the whole house – a stately 1903 Victorian in the lovely, centrally located neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Both foodies, Abil also works at a local brewpub and can offer guests homemade, gourmet meals curated with local craft beers and ales. Flynn, who serves guests daily continental breakfasts, also is a costumer. You can choose from a selection of authentic vintage apparel to wear, to enhance the ambiance of your stay.
Wear a satin smoking jacket out to the “Pot-ting Shed” guesthouse in the property’s park-like backyard, where you may freely consume flower or concentrates and socialize. Also, BB&B guests are offered a fifteen percent discount at nearby dispensary Ponder, just walking distance away.
BB&B books reservations through Air BnB exclusively, though there is no check box for Air BnB users to indicate they want 420 amenities. By offering “smoking” accommodations, Flynn says, guests that are smokers usually smoke both cannabis and cigarettes, or only cannabis.
“Over one-third of our business is cannabis tourism and that percentage is steadily growing,” Flynn explained. “We have hosted about 850 guests in three years. Many tourists seek out cannabis-friendly lodging. Some guests find it hard to relax and smoke cannabis openly. We try to put them at ease and tell them that it is perfectly legal. No need to look over their shoulder.”
3) Portland – The Jupiter Hotel, a hipsterish, boutique downtown destination bills itself as having the first 420-friendly hotel package in town.
A welcome kit greets you upon arrival. In it, you get a magazine, T-shirt, giveaway hat, complimentary munchies, discount coupons for local dispensaries and a vape pen, enabling you to get the good times rolling ASAP. (Most hotels in legal states are vape-only in rooms; check ahead to make sure you’re aware of their policies).
However, in the “fine print,” they remind guests that consuming cannabis is illegal in any public areas, including hotel rooms. Hmmm… in any case, while in Portland, you can indulge your rock & roll jones at nearby Doug Fir Restaurant and Concert Hall. You can satisfy your munchies (and get married at] famous Voodoo Donuts. The Jupiter also offers a craft brew and distillation tour of downtown.
4) Las Vegas – 420 Tours Las Vegas offers visitors to Sin City a new, green alternative to the classic “What happens in Vegas…” booze & gambling binge.
With recreational legalization fairly recent, 420ToursLV does not offer hotel long weekend booze & gambling binge. With recreational legalization fairly recent, 420ToursLV does not offer hotel packages, but has a list of tours for guests, as well as limo service. Take one of their customized 420-themed limos or party buses for dispensary hopping, girls’ night out or bachelor party.
For true tourists, book the 420 City Tour trip to four dispensaries, with a guided tour of legalization in Nevada, and worship at the LV’s First Church of Cannabis. You’ll also visit the offices of state Senator Tick Segerblom, an author of Nevada’s marijuana laws. Then – like many other hopeless romantics – end up at the Las Vegas “Weeding” Chapel.
5) Los Angeles – L.A.’s self-proclaimed first 420-friendly inn is located in the super-hip Sunset Junction area, northeast of downtown.
Converted from a large residence, each room at the Doc 420 Inn is named for a cannabis strain, as well as beautifully appointed with flat-screen TV, queen size beds with luxury, high thread count linens and free WIFI. Some rooms share a bathroom, there’s parking available, and guests are welcome to use the full kitchen and outdoor barbecue grill.
6) Desert Hot Springs – Want to really let it ALL hang out? What about a 420-friendly and clothing optional getaway?
Long a low-profile destination for the nudist crowd, Desert Hot Springs apparently is experiencing a surge of cannabis-infused investment and tourism may play a part.
Living Waters Resort quietly advertises as 420-friendly. They’ve been clothing optional since 2003, so presumably, they’re very familiar with discretion and non-judgmental customer service. Enjoy water from natural mineral hot springs in Living Waters’ spa and pool, as well as naked sunbathing. Relax with an outdoor nude massage or one of the romance-enhancing seminars offered by the adult-only facility.
7) Washington D.C. – Recreational use was approved by voters in our nation’s capital in 2014, but somewhat restrictive regulations have slowed the progress of full-blown cannabis tourism, as seen in Colorado.
Consumers cannot purchase marijuana in D.C., but can receive a gift of weed, while possessing two ounces or less for personal use is legal. Consuming in public is prohibited and still considered illegal on federal land, so that could give visitors unfamiliar with the area some cause for concern. Those who’d like to indulge while in D.C. should contact a 420-travel service to make arrangements for stress-free accommodations.
However, there’s an active pro-cannabis community in D.C., so if you’re the political type, you may one day find yourself smoking a joint with other protestors at some demonstration or pro-cannabis event. For instance, at President Trump’s upcoming inauguration, local D.C. activist group DCMJ says it will hand out more than 4,000 free joints to spectators at DuPont Circle, on the inaugural parade route.
8) Jamaica – Yeah, mon. According to Bud and Breakfast’s Roby, this is his newest, hottest international destination for 420 travelers.
Jamaica has recently decriminalized the use of most drugs, a la Uruguay. Local legislators and business people are actively invested in creating infrastructure to support more visitors looking for the authentic, irie island vibe. Imagine zip lining in trees, high above crops of cannabis and coffee, or getting mellow on the beach in the tropical sun.
“I was there recently in Kingston, and was warmly welcomed by heads of state and religious leaders. They’re really interested in building their tourism economy and making Jamaica a destination,” Roby said. “For me, I recommend Negril, where you can lounge on the beach during the day and enjoy the natural beauty of the scenery. Then, at night, you might go out for some reggae or dance hall music. Take a day trip to Kingston or Montego Bay. That’s a pretty nice vacation, as long as you have a good local guide to assist you.”
9) Uruguay – This country’s progressive drug policy was the first in the world to officially legalize marijuana in 2013.
Currently, regulations are somewhat similar to those in Washington D.C. Visitors cannot purchase marijuana, but they can be gifted amounts of cannabis – like a joint on your pillow, instead of chocolates.
In Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, you can visit the world’s first marijuana museum. The museum was set up with the support of the Uruguayan tourism bureau, as well as a partnership with the Hash, Marijuana and Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. The port town dates to 1724. Now, the largest city in Uruguay, it consistently rates at the top of quality-of-life lists for South American metropolitan areas.
10) Alaska – What’s in store as travel merchants and tourists catch on to cannabis? Colorado Cannabis Tours says future plans include cruises, starting with one to Alaska.
While a warm weather cruise might seem more appealing, this northern route makes more sense because recreational marijuana is legalized all along the West Coast of the U.S., in Canada and Alaska.
Enjoy what some travel experts say is one of the most scenic cruises, and also be able to do dabs in the serene comfort of your stateroom? Add live entertainment and all that food – maybe even an infused edibles and dessert buffet? What else can you say? It’s a great time to be alive.