The idea of cannabis tourism has always seemed rather strange to me. After all, if you have been smoking marijuana all your life, I think it’s unlikely that you’ll travel to another state or country to continue indulging.
However, recent statistics have helped change my mind. Similar to how individuals will visit a vineyard or sample fine wines when abroad, tourists are flocking to the state of Colorado to experience many of the products on offer.
Since the start of 2014, recreational marijuana has been legal in the region – and this has had dramatic effects on the population as well as its government. For example, around a year after its implementation, statistics from the Cannabist illustrated:
- In Colorado’s mountain resort communities, 90 per cent of marijuana sales are from non-native tourists
- Tourists buy almost six per cent of the marijuana purchased throughout Colorado
- Colorado’s government has raised more than $60 million in marijuana taxes, licences, and fees
On the surface, these statistics suggest that marijuana tourism has been greatly beneficial for Colorado. Yet, to find out whether this is really the case, a few things need to be determined:
The effects on local business
According to the Cannabist, Colorado’s total recreational marijuana sales between January and October were close to $250 million. While this astronomical figure is impressive, it is difficult to individually assess the impact on small firms.
However, data from Forbes paints a better picture. Assessing the impact of marijuana tourism during the first quarter of 2014, the organisation revealed:
- Denver International Airport saw record traffic – with more than four million passengers in January alone
- Online searches for hotels in Denver increased by around 25 per cent
- The property market experienced a boom – with organisations looking to set up new businesses, factories, and growing facilities
- As a result, related occupations, such as electricians, saw huge demand as businesses called upon them to make their commercial premises ready
- Colorado’s first cannabis tour operator ran out of tickets for its excursions
With these statistics, few can doubt that Colorado’s new wave of marijuana tourism has been a financial success. However, when a drug or potentially harmful substance gets legalised, there are always concerns about the human impact. Therefore, has it truly been worth it?
Following the legalisation of marijuana, individuals and various analysts were predicting the state would – quite literally – go to pot. However, instead of the region descending into violence and unemployment, the cannabis industry has actually created millions of jobs and seemingly cut the crime rate.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance violent offences in Denver are down, while the number of fatal traffic accidents throughout the region has also declined. Furthermore, other sources are reporting that drug use amongst young people is becoming more uncommon.
Speaking to CBC News, a police officer confirmed that – despite earlier misgivings about the legislation of cannabis – marijuana hasn’t caused widespread problems, stating; “Basically, officers aren't seeing much of a change in how they do police work”.
While it appears crime rates declined through the region, health is another issue which needs to be addressed. Fortunately, Colorado is in a fantastic position to help us better understand the long-term effects of cannabis.
Reliable research regarding the effects of marijuana is often hard to come by, with many studies having a political or corporate bias. However, following this substance’s new status, we can start properly analysing the ramifications to health.
For example, according to Forbes, hospitals throughout the region have seen an increase in patients suffering from marijuana intoxication while doctors have also seen cases of cannabis-related burns caused by individuals trying to extract THC using butane.
However, the publication was keen to stress that “marijuana legalization in Colorado has not resulted in a widespread increase in acute medical problems.”
Separately, the legalisation of cannabis has allowed researchers to start investigating its unknown properties. Although it will take years before these are fully understood, Colorado presents a unique opportunity which is not being ignored.
Was it worth it?
This research illustrates that Colorado’s new marijuana tourism has had a profoundly positive effect on the region, creating jobs and generating millions of dollars.
With everyone’s eyes on the state, it is only a matter of time before others follow. Eventually, you might be able to book an entire tour of America – with as much cannabis and related activities as you can handle.