Pot tourism in Colorado one step closer

Marijuana is sold out of this one-time service station in Colorado.

Marijuana is sold out of this one-time service station in Colorado. Image: Jeffrey Beale/Flickr/CC By-SA

Last November, voters in both Colorado and Washington state made the recreational use of marijuana legal for adults within state borders. That begs the question, will the states, like Amsterdam, breed a new industry of pot tourism?

Pot tourism not going to happens, says Governor

Late last year, Colorado’s governor John Hickenlooper, who opposed the legal marijuana initiative, said that marijuana tourism was not likely to emerge in his state.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he 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.”

But Hickenlooper didn’t consider how many tourists might be interested in coming to the state to enjoy some legal puffery while away from the daily rat race. After all, the pot cafes in Amsterdam attract hundreds of tourists every year.

Think again, say Colo. regulators

On Tuesday, February 19, Colorado’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force gave its go-ahead for pot-themed tourism, saying there was nothing in the new law that forbids out-of-staters from buying and using the stuff will inside its borders.

However, it also recommended that signs be posted in airports reminding travelers that pot bought in Colorado must be consumed in Colorado. Stashing a little in the luggage will not be tolerated.

The task force decided to limit the amount of pot non-residents will be able to purchase from any given vendor. The thinking behind that move is to limit a practice that has come to be known as “Smurfing.” That is, when a person goes from vendor to vendor, accumulating pot that will later be sold at a higher rate in a state where it is not legal. By limiting the amount at any one stopped, it is hoped that those engaging in the practice will find it too slow to be worthwhile.

It also decided that marijuana retail stores can only be owned by residents of the state. To establish residency, a person has to live in Colorado for a minimum of two years.

Slope and smoke package trips?

A corollary between partying ski bums and bubbling bongs has never seemed like a great stretch. Savvy tourism professionals in the Aspen state will no doubt soon start putting together packages to target a demographic which has, in the past, been forced to keep its smoking proclivities clandestine.

The laws for how legal recreational pot will be distributed and regulated in Washington state are even now being written. When all the Is are dotted and the Ts are crossed next year, the northwestern state will likely also breed a tourism industry for pot smokers.

But the potential tourism dollar is especially keen for Colorado. With its world-class ski resorts and prestigious film festivals, tourism has become the state’s number two industry.


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