It’s a big weekend for Colorado.
Commercial sales of marijuana to all adults over 21 years old have been legal since Jan. 1 with the passing of Colorado Amendment 64. Colorado and Washington are the only states that allow licensed retailers to sell marijuana to anyone of legal age.
Marijuana tour guides and hospitality companies are excited about increased interest. So excited, in fact, that one company is focused solely on travelers looking to smoke marijuana. Colorado Green Tours offer private half-day and full-day, in addition to all-inclusive packages for the Cannabis Cup, a weekend celebration of marijuana.
“Cannabis Cup packages provide you with everything you need to have a Rocky Mountain High time on your trip to Colorado,” according to the tour company’s website.
State officials, however, are not eager to promote the state as a weed tourism destination.
“We have not seen any direct increase or decrease to the tourism industry in Colorado,” said Kathy Green, communications and marketing director at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
And weed is definitely not all the state has to offer. Colorado has long been a popular tourism destination for its national parks, national forests, monuments and ski resorts.
“Colorado is uniquely positioned as a premier four-season destination, and the Colorado Tourism Office has no plans to use the legalization of the drug to promote the state,” Green said.
There are signs that travelers are very interested, though.
Searches for Denver hotels for the 4/20 weekend were up 73%, according to Hotels.com, and searches in the first three months of the year were up by 25% compared to the same period in 2013.
Anyone who is making the trip to Colorado this weekend should be aware of what is and isn’t permitted.
The law, while permitting retail sales and possession, bans public consumption; smoking marijuana in public is still illegal. It is also illegal to possess marijuana on federal land, including Colorado’s plentiful national parks, forests and monuments.
The state’s transportation laws for marijuana are similar to those established for alcohol. Any marijuana in the vehicle must be in a sealed container — dispensaries can seal it properly — and consumption while driving is illegal.
Marijuana is also prohibited by the TSA, so tourists will not be leaving the state with any smokable souvenirs. Airports in Colorado Springs and Aspen/Pitkin County have “amnesty boxes” in their terminals for tourists to drop off any remaining marijuana in their possession on the way out. Anyone flying in and out of Denver International Airport should dispose of any marijuana before arriving at the airport.
So far, the lasting effects of legalization on travel to Colorado are mostly unknown.
“It’s too early to forecast how the law may impact statewide tourism,” Green said. “However, it is something we will be watching closely throughout the coming year.”
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