Politics, Print, Reviews March 7, 2013

Marijuana Tourism Comes to Colorado

by Austin Wulf

Rocky Mountain High BillboardWhen Amendment 64 passed in November, it opened a world of possibilities that stoners and entrepreneurs dreamed about. Now, one of those dreams is becoming a reality: marijuana tourism. After the amendment’s passage, a task force made up of legislators, law enforcement authorities, and pot activists formed. On February 19th, that task force agreed that the amendment’s language does not restrict recreational cannabis use to Colorado residents—meaning visitors can partake as well, when the legislation is in place.

If the state legislature agrees, tourists will be allowed to purchase limited amounts of marijuana (perhaps as low as an eighth of an ounce at a time, though the specific amount was not set.) Obviously, they wouldn’t be allowed to take their toke across state lines, either.

“Marijuana purchased in Colorado must stay in Colorado,” said Representative Dan Pabon, a Democrat and member of the task force. The group suggested putting up signs in airports and at state borders warning visitors they can’t take pot home. Weed moving across state lines out of Colorado would attract more federal attention, not to mention the displeasure of neighboring states.

The task force will recommend other regulations, including those relating to where is acceptable to use marijuana. Their deadline is February 28th, after which the matter will be in the hands of the state legislature and the Department of Revenue, which will regulate recreational marijuana (and already regulates medical marijuana.)

Bringing this kind of tourism to the state opens up numerous possibilities. Visitors will be allowed to purchase pot in limited quantities from recreational dispensaries, but the idea of private “pot clubs” is open as well. These bars for bud, in a sense, would be huge for tourism as well as for residents.

And there’s no question that the interest is there. It wasn’t even 24 hours after election night that people were talking about moving to Colorado and making “Mile High” jokes all over again. Colorado is sending smoke signals across the country and we’ll be sure to see an influx of new businesses and residents in addition to the tourists. Over the next year, this state is going to blow up in a haze of skunky smoke.

In fact, some businesses are already opening up in the wake of Amendment 64. Studio A64 in Colorado Springs lets customers bring their own weed to use in the lounge’s vaporizers. Clubs like that, as well as dispensaries, will be the first in the field when legislation regarding sale is passed later this year.

Garden City Mayor Brian Seifried is “excited for the opportunities that Amendment 64 has opened up for Garden City and the [state’s] economy as a whole. It is going to be great to get all that money off the black market and into the hands of legitimate business owners.” No doubt Garden City, with its history, will see some businesses opening up to take advantage of legislation coming from Amendment 64.

On the other hand, some communities may choose to ban the sale of recreational marijuana as they did with medical marijuana. Residesnts of Greeley, Loveland, and Fort Collins shut out dispensaries in 2011 and 2012 and can be expected to vote against allowing pot cafes and the like as well.

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