A major development in the cannabis industry has been tourism. Particularly with more than half of the states in the US decriminalizing medical marijuana, many states have begun to capitalize on the public’s interest in the substance. In an article on Forbes, Nick Kovacevich goes into depth about the growing industry and how it will continue to develop in the coming years.
The preliminary example that Kovacevich uses comes from San Francisco. He begins to talk about an experience called the Gonja Goddess Getaway, which is a wellness retreat for women who already love cannabis, and those that simply want a safe space to try it for the first time. The retreat consists of yoga, educational classes, spa treatments, and of course unlimited cannabis. The retreat allows its visitors to try it in many different forms, including smoothies, creams, and even vapes. According to the co-founder, Deidra Bagdasarian,
“Cannabis attracts everyone, from lawyers to truckers,” – Deidra Bagdasarian, Co-Founder of Ganja Goddess Getaway, 2018
Bagdasarian has enjoyed the luxuries of this form of tourism, as she also created Bliss Edibles which is one of the premier cannabis companies in the United States. Her business has expanded so much that she plans to expand across the entire country and overseas in 2019. Her success, however, is not uncommon in this industry. In the Forbes article, it is said that Cannabis Tourism is growing at an incredibly fats rate and attracts thousand of people, which in turn produces millions of dollars in revenue. Kovacevich noted that in Colorado alone, this form of tourism has grown 51% since 2014, according to the states department of revenue. He went further to note that,
“The Colorado DOR said the state attracted some 6.5 million cannabis tourists in 2016, the most recent figures available. It estimates that number will have grown by at least 6% in 2017 and will match or exceed that figure this year. The report said those 6.5 million tourists logged nearly 18 million cannabis-use days in 2016, a clear demonstration of how the state racked up more than $5.2 billion in marijuana sales since it legalized cannabis in January 2014.” – Nick Kovacevich, Forbes Contributor, 2018
Let me just emphasize these numbers again. Since 2014, just four years ago, the cannabis industry alone in Colorado has contributed $5.2 BILLION to the states economy! Colorado is the prime example because it was the catalyst for the rest of the country to follow suit. Kovacevich also notes the impact California has been monumental as well. Not only are “Wine and Weed” tours are becoming more popular, but so are “Puff and Paint” events. These states have found innovative ways to infuse cannabis use with traditional tourism, allowing for a better experience for tourists. He notes that,
“One tour company plays on the mystique of cannabis, offering tours “behind the curtain” of the legal marijuana industry in six states, along with some sampling along the way.” – Nick Kovacevich, Forbes Contributor, 2018
Though Cannabis Tourism has produced a great deal of revenue, like the rest of the cannabis industry, it also has a banking problem. Since cannabis use is still considered illegal at the federal level, most banks refuse to do business with companies in the industry. With some states having it legalized and others refusing to do so, the legal uncertainty makes it hard for banks, and destination marketers to promote cannabis tourism. States are beginning to wake up to the potential, but there is a lot of work to be done.
According to Marijuana Business Factbook, the economic impact of legal marijuana will increase 223% from 2017 to 2022. Using the Great Experiment as an example, also called Colorado, we can assume that the more touristy the area of a certain state, the higher the cost of marijuana, which in turn generates higher sales tax revenue. In 2017, cannabis sales were higher than alcohol sales in Aspen for the first time in history. Even small towns near the border with states where cannabis use is not legalized have seen significantly higher per capita sales than interior areas of the state. This indicates that the out-of-state market of potential customers on a day-trip can be just as potent.
Even in Nevada, where cannabis use is outlawed on the Vegas Strip, people are finding a way to cash in on the industry. After marijuana revenue exceeded expectations by 25% in 2017, Nevada policy makers began to consider smoking parlors and pot lounges to draw more tourist. Kovacevich added that,
“In November , a sort of cannabis theme park will open in Las Vegas, featuring laser graffiti walls, giant flying orbs, and light and water shows. And that’s before guests get to the dispensary.” – Nick Kovacevich, Forbes Contributor, 2018
In the coming years it is inevitable for us to see more cities loosen their restrictions on cannabis tourism, due to the fact that so much revenue is involved. It will be interesting to see how cities adapt around the development of the cannabis industry, and try to incorporate it into their tourism pitch. Comment which cities you would like to visit for your first Cannabis Tourism experience!