Marijuana tourism is getting mainstream hype whether state officials like it or not

As we've noted, official tourism agencies in Colorado continue to keep marijuana at arm's length, as it were. For instance, a VISIT DENVER list of things the city has in common with Seattle, released prior to the Super Bowl, somehow managed to skip legal pot entirely.

Not that the media has needed much prodding to promote such trips. A recent CBS feature on the subject (see the video below) has now been supplemented by a hefty Washington Post spread that even includes a "vocabulary lesson for pot tourists."

The CBS report juxtaposes footage of correspondent Barry Petersen hanging in a limo as visitors blaze up -- imagery that's rapidly becoming a cliche -- with visits to a grow, a shop and the workshop of a glassware artisan.

To put it mildly, no new ground is broken by the clip. But the Washington Post offering is considerably more ambitious.

Here's a screen capture from the package:

Sporting photos aplenty, reporter Andrea Sachs's account goes into the sort of detail that's commonplace in traditional travel writing but has been all but nonexistent in marijuana-tourism stories to date.

Yes, Sachs documents her Denver-area ride in a "long black van with no telling markings" organized by Colorado Highlife Tours. But she also experiences the scene in Pueblo, which one commentator hopes to help transform into "the Little Amsterdam of Colorado," delves into the world of edibles and gets into the question of where people who visit the state can actually consume cannabis without running afoul of public-smoking prohibitions.

In a sidebar, Sachs helpfully points out-of-towners to hotels, such as Morrison's Cliffhouse Lodge, said to be marijuana-friendly, plus eateries capable of satisfying the anticipated case of the munchies at a tour's conclusion; she mentions Milberger Farms in Pueblo and Udi's Bread Cafe in Denver.

Also included is the aforementioned roster of vocab terms, which range from relatively straight-forward definitions for "strains" and "sativa" to "couch lock" -- "When you take one puff too many and melt into your furniture." And if some of the entries in her "common slang for cannabis" roster seem a little antique, at least she didn't include "tea" along with "grass" and "reefer."

True, Sachs isn't above having a little fun at ganjapreneurs' expense: She follows a statement by one shop owner ("Colorado will be a tourist stop for everyone in the United States until it comes to their state") with the dismissive line, "Dream that little creampuff dream, pot patriots." But overall, the package demonstrates that marijuana can be covered in much the same way other types of tourism are -- as a completely normal, commonplace attraction.

At present, state agencies aren't contributing to this transition: A statement provided to the Post notes that "the Colorado Tourism Office has positioned Colorado as a premier four-season destination, and the organization has no plans to use the legalization of the drug to promote the state." But it seems to be happening whether officials take part or not.

Here's the CBS roundup.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Lists & Weirdness archive circa January 24: "Photos: Twelve things Denver and Seattle have in common other than legal pot."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts