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Reader: We Really Missed the Boat on Cannabis Tourism
Jacqueline Collins

Reader: We Really Missed the Boat on Cannabis Tourism

After Coloradans voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November 2012, tourism boosters didn't know quite what to do. So they stayed silent, omitting references to marijuana on the state's tourism website and promotional materials. But the marijuana tourists came anyway.

Now the state is not only recognizing that segment of the industry, but encouraging it. Not only did Colorado Governor's Tourism Conference offer a panel on cannabis and tourism last week, but Governor Jared Polis also addressed the group at its annual luncheon on October 1. He'd just returned from a weekend of chile-eating and leaf-peeping, which included a trip to El Paso County, where cannabis cultivation has helped boost the rural economy.

Cannabis tourism has other benefits for the state. But with other states legalizing recreational marijuana, Polis warned, "It might not be a novelty that lasts forever."

Says Tony:

 About time. We really missed the boat for the past couple years. Pretty soon, pot tourism won't be a thing because it will be everywhere anyway.

Points out Jim:

These [proposed social consumption] businesses are exempt from the Clean Air act, too. That is a problem for a lot of people.

Responds Joshua: 

If you don’t like being in a smoke-filled place, don’t go. Problem solved.

Comments Kyle: 

If we can get pot tourists back. Our cannabis has gone downhill. Overregulation is pushing Colorado owners out. And we haven't had a Cannabis Cup in years. We f**ked up.

Concludes Lee: 

Marijuana Deals Near You

I was working tourism this summer and had a congressman ask me how cannabis has changed the state, either good or bad. Talking to him, I explained that the whole state isn’t straight potheads and how it’s helped the city and schools, etc. I made sure to tell him that with any state, it’s going to be crazy in the beginning but after a while it all calms down just like anything new thing that gets legalized. The more people who can see it first-hand might help the country a little bit more in being more free?

A bill legalizing social pot consumption permits for qualified businesses passed the Colorado Legislature in the 2019 session, opening up new opportunities for cannabis users and entrepreneurs alike; the law will take effect at the beginning of 2020. And in August, Polis appointed Wanda James, a cannabis advocate and dispensary owner, to the state tourism board.

James, who was on the tourism panel at the conference, pointed out that Colorado has already fallen behind states like California in reforming social pot use laws, despite Colorado being the first state with a commercial pot industry. "The whole social consumption idea is something we really need to figure out," she said.

But at least the state is finally working on it. And now the Colorado Tourism Office even has a cannabis-related training program for hotel concierges, providing them information on how to educate visitors about cannabis laws and where they can consume until Colorado really does figure it out.

What do you think of cannabis tourism? Should the state promote it? Post a comment or email your thoughts to editorial@westword.com.

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