Legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state may lead to more than just an epic showdown between state and federal governments. It could also lead to “marijuana tourism” in both states.
Both of the marijuana measures will allow for people to possess the drug in small amounts, as long as they are over 21 years of age. And the possession is not just for state residents, but also for visitors.
Fox News notes that tourists may not be able to pack their bowls or bongs in their bags, but as long as out-of-state tourists smoke the marijuana they buy while they are in Colorado or Washington, they will not violate the measure.
This is all assuming that the measures will take effect. While they have been approved by voters, both states are still waiting on word from possible lawsuits against them by the US Department of Justice, who may assert federal supremacy over drug laws. While the drug has been made legal in both states for recreational use, federal law still says that marijuana possession is a criminal offense.
While the future of marijuana legalization in the two states is still uncertain, it has not stopped speculation that the two places, both of which have a tourism industry, will see an increase in out-of-state “marijuana tourists.”
Colorado’s tourism industry is massive, thanks to the Rocky Mountains ski resorts. Al White, the state’s tourism director, tried to downplay the idea of a marijuana tourism boom, saying, “It won’t be as big a deal as either side hopes or fears.”
Jennifer Rudolph of Colorado Ski Country USA, a trade association representing 21 Colorado resorts, stated that the ski resorts are “certainly watching it closely.” She added that there are no plans currently to add a marijuana lounge to any ski resort, though she added:
“There’s a lot that remains to be seen. I guess you could say we’re waiting for the smoke to clear.”
KPIC notes that for residents in Washington — at least near Seattle — marijuana tourism is nothing new. Seattle is home to an annual festival called Hempfest, which attracts around 250,000 people over three days. People at the festival are largely left along to smoke publicly and pass around marijuana brownies and lollipops as police stand by and watch. Executive director Vivian McPeak stated:
“People travel to Seattle from other states and countries to attend Seattle Hempfest every year to experience the limited freedom that happens at the event. It’s reasonable to assume that people will travel to Washington assuming that the federal government doesn’t interfere.”
While the residents and officials in Washington and Colorado consider the possibility of marijuana tourism, they still await a response to the laws’ passing from the US Department of Justice.