Is the tourist economy in your area suffering? Not what it once was? Is the lack of a once-thriving travel industry having a knock-on effect for other industries in your hometown? Well, legalizing cannabis could be just the answer when it comes to boosting a flagging economy and revitalizing your region.
Y’see, visitors can enjoy everything your area has to offer, whether it’s the beaches, mountains, nightlife, shopping, etc., but with a new twist: legalized recreational cannabis.
In Amsterdam, the pot tourism market is set up much differently to what’s on offer stateside, thanks to travelers being allowed to consume cannabis in coffee shops. This isn’t allowed (yet) in the United States, with the exception of smoking-permitted spaces (the few of them that exist, anyway), with the original anti-smoking laws intended to apply to smoking cigarettes only.
Also, due to the laws pertaining to anti-public consumption, many visitors are forced to find unique ways to consume their herbal product, especially since their accommodation — including Airbnb listings — may not permit smoking of any kind.
That’s why the likes of group activities, like cannabis brewery and winery tours, and Puff Pass & Paint classes (wine-night-style paint classes that allow for weed consumption), have been popping up in recreational cannabis markets, to help visitors and cannabis newbies safely consume in a nonpublic, social environment. There are also general guided tours, in which visitors hop from dispensary to dispensary with the possibility of visiting a cultivation center — but from a distance, of course. (Laws don’t yet allow non-employee consumers at cultivation centers to get close enough to actually touch the cannabis plants.)
In the meantime, cannabis-centric tourist agencies, such as Kush Tourism and Cannabis Tours, have also been setting up accommodation services for travelers, hooking them up with 420-friendly hotel rooms and airport shuttles. There’s even an Airbnb-like service just for cannabis tourists, called Bud + Breakfast.
Of course, for those visitors who prefer not to smoke flower, edibles and tinctures are much easier to consume publicly, which makes any typical accommodation accessible and easy.
Officials might try to call pot tourism a myth, but the numbers don’t lie. In 2016, according to The Denver Post, 77.7 million people visited Colorado, contributing more than $19 billion in tourism dollars to the state’s economy.
Additionally, according to the LA Times, last year California predicted a $5 billion boost to the economy through tourism following on from the legalization of recreational cannabis on January 1 of this year. Massachusetts and Maine should also expect expansions to their respective tourism industries as the march forward with cannabis
business permitting and licensing continues at apace.
Not to be left out, according to Travel & Leisure, the Pacific Northwest has also been cashing in, with marked rises of visitors to Washington’s largest city Seattle, as well as to neighboring Olympia, some 60 miles southwest of Seattle.
A number of states also saw increased online searches for marijuana tourism, including California, who in 2016 saw a 299-percent hike in such searches. Not to be outdone, online searches for marijuana tourism in Maine impressed with a 579-percent increase,
while Massachusetts saw a whopping 1009-percent jump. (Boston, get your engines ready!)
Recreational pot is nothing short of promising for states considering new policy. For those located on the East Coast, the Jersey Shore could certainly benefit from cannabis tourism, with the plant likely to bring back seasonal tourists to once-thriving resort towns like Asbury Park, Seaside Heights, Wildwood and Belmar for consistent summer vacations with a spin. And for tanked economies, like Atlantic City, weed could potentially revive the market and bring back visitors not just to dispensaries, but to casinos, the classic boardwalk, and all those Garden State bars and restaurants.