Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Cannabis Tourism - by Citizen Jay Daily
“Cannabis-tourism,” that’s a thing, right? You bet your sweet buds it is, and it’s a growing buzz-word to be sure. Type the term into Google and you get about 860,000 result returns. Try “Marijuana tourism” and that number jumps to almost 2.6 million result returns…
As we head into greener months, tourist are initiating their plans—plotting where they will spend their precious, hard-earned time and dollars. It’s a yearly ritual that’s been going on in America since time immemorial (scenes of sepia-colored Goofy cartoons roll through my imagination-memory). A family man myself, I’ve taken my fair share of uncomfortable car rides to wild-unknown destinations. Every state in the Union has a reason to visit—an attraction to see. I’m reminded of a certain giant ball of twine in Kansas…Bob Dole’s home town… But suddenly, there are new destinations to be sought and had. New kinds of destinations.
Years past, taking the fam on the road meant leaving the cannabis behind. Better safe than sorry and all that. It meant going without for a few days or hooking up on the other side either by luck or design. I’m sure you, like me—dear reader—have a couple of great stories about that spontaneous encounter on vacation where out of nowhere you’re suddenly getting higher-than-ever with a complete stranger passing that fire-joint back and forth laughing in the moment…. As free as those moments felt, though, there was (and in most places still is) a seething, underlying prohibitionary guilty fear. [Sigh…the War on Drugs just fucking sucks.]
But no more! Because these days the avid and amateur American cannabis consumer alike can go to several exciting vacation destinations and experience the actual liberty of consuming cannabis free from prosecution. [Persecution is another story for another article altogether.]
Facebook has at least four pages dedicated to cannabis tourism. There’s one for Denver, one for Colorado, one for Washington, and one that’s for all of them. Probably more. Just think about it. Sure, every state has a reason to visit. But some of them have MOUNTAINS. Some of them have OCEANS. Some of them have mountains coming out of oceans… What to do? These kinds of places have always attracted me and thousands of others wanting outdoor adventures. With summer around the corner, it’s on my mind for sure. I crave adventure. I love camping and hiking and boating and biking and climbing and diving and dancing and dining. Who doesn’t? Only now we can do it with CANNABIS!
States that have legalized Cannabis for recreational, responsible adult (21+) use include Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Hmmm…those sound like some interesting tourist destinations, eh? Talk about sights to see!
I can imagine sea kayaking through the Inner Passage while passing a joint between boats as me and my partners meander past evergreen forests blanketing gray limestone cliffs…eagles chirping, circling above…snow-capped mountains rising in the distance; jutting, thrusting out of the sea fjords with majestic aura towards the bright blue and white. A short half-day excursion we opted from the myriad choices offered in one of many ports our epic cruise ship takes us to.
I have a vision of a place high in the mountains of Colorado where back country campers congregate to navigate untamed wilderness uninhabited except by fish, lions, elk, and bear. They camp together in a place dedicated to their cannabis desires. No rangers or police. No neighbors to complain. Just peace. Just quiet. And good tranquil vibes. I know a place….
Suddenly, I’m bustling through the market place watching the fish-mongers literally throw their catches to cooks and customers. I decide to buy a crab. Dungeness are huge, and being a Baltimore boy I’ve only ever had Chesapeake Bay Blues before. The merchant asks if I want him to peal it for me. No, I’ll relish the adventure of breaking it open myself. It’s Seattle, so you know I’m hopped up on coffee…great coffee. Somewhere between the coffee shop and Pike Place Market I joined a circle of crunchy-granola-type kids passing that good stuff. Crab never tasted so succulent.
Then I close my eyes and catch myself wandering down the Oregon coast hand in hand with my beautiful wife. We’ve just shared a bowl as we pulled off the coastal highway and walked down the trail to the turbulent beach. It’s cool and misty. We marvel at the huge drift-wood trunks hanging onto the forested shoreline being battered by the relentless waves. The perfectly round and flat rocks beneath our feet speak of magic and friendships. Pillars of stone rise from the water. They are arrogant in their resistance to the force that continually combats them. We take another toke as we continue our walk, kissing and smiling more as our hands hold tighter.
I met my wife in D.C. We’re from there by way of other places like most everyone else who lives there. You’ve still got to be careful in the city, because prohibition holds sway on all Federal properties—and that includes a lot of the fun places to go. Still, it might be worth the risk to see some of the world’s greatest treasures while in an altered state of heightened awareness.
I’ve been to all of these places and done all of those things. I just did so before it was ever legal to. But while cannabis has now been made legal for recreational use in all of these places, it’s still not a free-for-all light-em-up smoke-em-and-toke-em anywhere you damn well please, kinda situation. No it is not, to be sure. With smoking bans in place for most indoor, and in particular, work spaces as well as in public, finding a place to legally consume your legally consumable cannabis can be difficult at best.
For example, two private members-only smoking clubs were recently shut down by police in Denver. One of these, is associated with a national clothing brand—Grassroots California. In the wake of the raid, they are facing eviction. The other club, literally named “People of the United States” or the “POTUS” Club was similarly shut down over the 4/20 weekend by the police. Without safe and comfortable places like these to congregate, where are tourists supposed to go? The City invited them here and loves rolling in their generous tax donations. They just don’t want to see those “dirty hippies” smoke anywhere.
In Alaska, Charlo Green’s Alaska Cannabis Club in Anchorage has gotten off to a beaten start, closing on the very day it opened. She has since refashioned her club as a medical only facility as she’s been unable to obtain the licenses required for a recreational cannabis business. It’s an ongoing fight. “The word ‘medical’ doesn’t magically make it legal,” said Cynthia Franklin, director of the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. “Cannabis is still a controlled substance,” she said. In her view, until the business has a license, it’s not legal. Alaska will begin accepting business applications in February of 2016. Until then…
Despite setbacks like these, cannabis tourism is a real and growing industry. As the green rush takes hold in each new place, it will have a unique set of interesting sights to visit and adventures to have. There will be “loaded” bus tours to dispensaries, grows, and glass houses. There will be beds-and-breakfasts and hotels for stoners. There will be seminars and cooking classes, fishing tours and jeep excursions. Hell, I bet that soon in New York City you’ll be able to tour the Stock Exchange and bet on weed. Well, maybe next year…