Cannabis Tourism Is Now A $17 Billion Industry—And It’s Just Taking Off

From tours of a marijuana farm to “bud and breakfast”Hotels and American destinations are discovering that “canna-cations” aren’t just for stoners anymore.

Adrienne, a forty-year-old makeup artist, was born in northern Georgia, where cannabis is still illegal. When she and her husband were planning a vacation in 2018, Adrienne, who speaks with a nice Southern drawl and has been smoking marijuana since she was 14, suggested they go to California and see what it’s like to buy pot legally.

“I had never been to a dispensary before and I wanted a professional to bring us around so we could sit back and take in all the knowledge,”Adrienne speaks highly of the experience.

Emerald Farm Tours was booked for Adrienne. They operate out of San Francisco, and guide cannabis enthusiasts to local dispensaries. They also offer private tours of the indoor cannabis plants in the Bay Area. Adrienne spent $1,500 for her trip. “canna-cation”For a half-day trip, you get a good selection of cannabis and a room in a hotel. She booked another trip with the company months later, but this time she and her friends bought the full-day excursion to visit a Mendocino outdoor cannabis farm, located three hours north of San Francisco.

Of course, Adrienne didn’t have to travel all the way to “America’s bud basket”California is the best place to vacation with cannabis. At the moment, Washington, D.C., as well as 19 other states, have legalized recreational cannabis.With several other states likely to join them this coming year,

CANNABIS LAWS BY STATE

As legalization spreads, pot is also becoming less stigmatized. According to a study, more than half of American adults (68%) are now in favor of adult use. Harris PollIn May, the survey was conducted. Half of all millennials (50%) say that access to legal recreational cannabis is important when choosing a vacation destination, and more than four in ten millennials (43%) say they’ve specifically chosen a destination because cannabis was legal there.

According to Victor Pinho, cofounder and CEO of Emerald Farm Tours, cannabis travel is still largely ignored by the industry and tourism boards. This leaves millions of dollars on table. “They’re tourists and they’re shopping—they are here to spend money in the mecca of weed,”He explained that the average customer spends $300 to 400 at the dispensary in their visits, which is about three times the amount of a transaction with locals.

It’s still unclear how big the nascent cannabis tourism industry will eventually become, or what its potential economic impact on the $1.2 trillion U.S. tourism economy will be, but early data is promising. A preandemic 2020 national study conducted by market research firm MMGY Travel Intelligence InsightsIt was found that almost one in five (18%) American leisure travellers are interested in cannabis-related experiences while on vacation. When the survey sample was narrowed to adults who consume cannabis and have an annual household income greater than $50,000, that number jumps up to 62%.

Legal cannabis can also help other businesses. Out of $25 billion in legal cannabis sales in 2021, Forbes estimates that as much as $4.5 billion was driven by tourists, who pour an additional $12.6 billion into restaurants, hotels, attractions and other shops—as well as into state and municipality tax coffers. That’s because for every dollar spent at a cannabis retailer, there’s a multiplier effect, with an additional $2.80 injected into the local economy, says Beau Whitney, founder and chief economist at Whitney Economics, a leader for consulting in the cannabis and hemp industry.

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For many destinations, that’s mainly passive income with almost no local promotion. Colorado is an example of a state where recreational cannabis has been legalized for ten years and which brought in $423 million in tax revenue last year. The Colorado Tourism Office website provides little information for 420-friendly tourists other than generic. Cannabis safety tips, Legal guidelines, and other Practical advice. “Cannabis is not one of the major drivers in terms of tourism to our state, compared to categories like outdoor recreation,”A Colorado tourism official emailed to say that there are no statistics or reports about the volume of travel and revenue.

While Colorado may not be proactively trying to attract tourists looking to experience its cannabis culture, the state’s entrepreneurs are. Denver’s Patterson Inn, a 9-bedroom boutique hotel located, appropriately, at 420 E. 11 Street, will soon be home to the city’s first licensed cannabis consumption lounge at a hotel. Chris Chiari, owner, said that his 1,000-square-foot club will be open to paying hotel guests by year’s end. “I like to say it’s Soho House with weed,” says Chiari.

Some destinations are starting to embrace cannabis tourism. The latest research paints a portrait of the typical cannabis traveler who looks less like a stereotypical stoner and more like any other upscale vacationer—one who was just as likely to be female as male, skewing toward millennials or younger (63%), with a college degree (59%), a job (82%) and an average household income of $87,000, according to a report from the Cannabis Travel Association International(CTAI), an industry trade association. “By 2025, 50% of travelers in the U.S. are going to be millennials,” says Brian Applegarth, the organization’s founder. “And their relationship to cannabis consumption is extremely normalized compared to the stigmatized industry leaders of today.”

Todd Aaronson, CEO of Visit Modesto, the convention and visitors bureau for the agricultural hub in California’s Central Valley, agrees. “Dog lovers are canna-users. Foodies are canna-users,”He says. “There is no difference between a cannabis traveler and every other traveler.”

Modesto partnered up with Modesto last year CultivarApplegarth founded the cannabis tourism strategy firm, to launch the MoTown CannaPassThe, a reward program in the passport style that allows visitors to discover local restaurants, activities, and cannabis retailers. “We wanted the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, if cannabis is your thing, and you’re here, we have retail shops that are legal,’”Aaronson. “And we have experiences that you can enjoy no differently than if you went to a brewpub or wine bar. They’re all equally regulated. You should have a designated driver for each. Every visitor is welcome. Leave your money here.”

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Aaronson claims that the MoTown CannaPass has resulted in an immediate 11% increase in traffic to local cannabis retailers, and overnight visits to Modesto. “No regrets whatsoever,”He says. “It was a significant result.”

The map of legalized marijuana in the U.S. is still like a patchwork quilt. California has emerged as the centre of cannabis tourism. A few other destinations in California have also launched their own programs from the new. Oakland Cannabis Trail, which takes visitors on an immersive journey through the city’s marijuana heritage, to Greater Palm Springs, whose Highlights of tourism websitesWellness through its hotels, spas, and tours. The trendy West Hollywood neighborhood was recently named by the Los Angeles Times. “the Amsterdam of the Far West,”Thanks to the high concentration of dispensaries in the area, some of which are backed by celebrities such as Jay-Z and Woody Harrelson.

HIGH PLACES

Before you go, here are some things to know about cannabis tourism.

The minimum age to purchase recreational cannabis in states that allow it is legal is 21.

• Every state where cannabis is legal has its own rules, which can also differ from city to city. Before you arrive, be sure to check the local laws.

Never drive if you are impaired. Use cabs, ride-shares, or designated drivers if you plan ahead.

• Many hotels do not allow smoking on-site, while others provide designated areas. There are thousands of properties available
Airbnb
Bud & BreakfastCurrently, smoking is allowed on-site.

• It is illegal to cross state lines with cannabis in your possession.

• Cannabis is illegal on a federal level, which means it is illegal to bring it on a commercial flight. The TSA is
Officers are not allowed to specifically search for weed but they are required to notify local law enforcement if they spot it during screening.

• Some destinations do not allow out-of-state visitors to purchase medical-grade cannabis even if they have a license in their home state. Before rolling up, make sure you check the reciprocity rules.

In some places in the United States, there have been surprising rises in cannabis tourism programs. The Midwest is home to the Michigan Cannabis TrailThis guide will help you make the most of legal marijuana in the Great Lakes Region. Kentucky is the only state where recreational cannabis is legal. Hemp HighwayBluegrass State celebrates CBD-only crop.

Florida is poised to become a major player in cannabis tourism on the East Coast. The Sunshine State, which has $99 billion in visitor spending, is second in overall tourism in the country, behind California. Florida also boasts the country’s largest medical marijuana market at $1 billion (annual sales). But state leaders have been resistant to attempts to legalize recreational marijuana.

One executive with her eye on the tourism prize is Kim Rivers, CEO and cofounder of Trulieve, one of the nation’s largest cannabis companies—with a footprint in 11 states. “The opportunity will be massive,”Rivers speaks of Florida “We have 21 million residents and 130 million tourists. In an adult-use market, our business would benefit extremely well.”

Rivers strategically positioned many of Trulieve’s dispensaries in places synonymous with tourism: Orlando, Key West, and near the famed Daytona International Speedway. Although attempts to legalize adult-use in Florida have failed, Rivers is confident that when it eventually happens it will transform the state’s market.

Just how big might Florida’s cannabis tourism market be if the state were to legalize recreational pot? In 2019, a financial impact study estimated that Florida could haul an additional $190 million in sales tax into Florida’s treasury “as a result of those sales and an accompanying increase in tourism.”If you assume a 6% rate of sales-tax, that would have assumed an estimated $3.2 billion market three year ago. It’s not bad for a young industry.

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