Thanks to recent US legislation
that legalizes marijuana in Colorado and Washington state, officials are
preparing for a surge of “pot tourism” in key cities such as Denver and Seattle
ahead of the 20 April marijuana holiday known as “4/20 Day”, or “Weed Day".
In fact, Denver is leading the charge with the first World Cannabis Week starting 17 April,
event run by My 420 Tours that has been described as a cross between “a
wine tour of Napa Valley and the best concert or entertainment experience you
"Already, hotels in
Seattle and Denver are reporting numerous requests for reservations by pot
supporters … and numerous articles have drawn comparisons to the way in which
tourism to Amsterdam increased [following] the easy availability of the
well-known drug,” travel expert Arthur Frommer wrote after the
legislation passed in November 2012.
The legislation allows
adults over the age of 21 in Colorado and Washington state to possess
up to an ounce of cannabis, one pound of “a solid marijuana-infused product” (such
as pot-brownies), or 72 ounces of an infused liquid (such as a ganja green
Though some critics have
said pot tourism may bring an increase of illegal activity to the US cities, therefore
hurting their reputations and keeping out family tourism, most appear to
tacitly agree that marijuana will bring money to both states’ coffers. According
to CNN, a state-hired consultant predicted tax revenues from marijuana
sales will bring Washington state $180 million per year.
That’s led many so-called
“ganjapreneurs” to begin brainstorming attractions and activities for the
lucrative new marijuana tourism market that’s likely to blossom in coming
months. Ideas include cannabis crawls – like a bar crawl, only with stops at
pot dispensaries; cannabis cafes, with menus of items infused with or
complimentary to marijuana; and glassblowing demonstrations for making your own
smoking receptacles. Though some of the ideas are still, well, half-baked,
here’s a sampling of marijuana-inspired attractions that tourists in Denver and
Seattle can expect in the near future.
World Cannabis Week: held in Denver between 17 and 21 April this
year, the event includes such activities as a pro-marijuana rally, a weekend
concert featuring the bands Slightly Stoopid and Cypress Hill, and a High Times
Cannabis Cup, where judges sample and vote for their favourite marijuana
strains and products. There will also be tours of medical dispensaries and marijuana
farms, and cannabis cooking classes.
Hempfest: held in Seattle’s Myrtle Edwards
Park from 16 to 18 August this year, Hempfest is billed as “the world’s largest
event advocating cannabis law reform”. Besides pro-marijuana speakers such as Seattle
mayor Mike McGinn, Washington state senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Seattle-based
physician and medical marijuana provider Dr Gil Mobley, guests can expect music
from the likes of Klover Jane, Human Revolution and the Highlife, as well as
food, information booths and shopping (think hemp goods and pot-related
Ganja guides: led by Seattle-based startup Leafly, entrepreneurs are scrambling to
become the Fodor’s or Zagat of cannabis, with “ganja guides” that help users
choose from among the hundreds of marijuana strains sold in city dispensaries.
Pot tours: similar to the
marijuana tours available through Colorado’s World Cannabis Week, entrepreneurs
in Washington state are envisioning a burgeoning cannabis industry to mirror the Pacific
Northwest’s wine tourism industry, with tours through bucolic pot farms, stops
at pot dispensaries for “tastings” and critical evaluation of different
strains’ composition and quality; however, the ideas are still in
very early stages.
word of warning to travellers: while legislation has gone through, state law in
Colorado and Washington state now contradicts federal law, so it remains to be
seen which law authorities will enforce.