Marijuana is legal in Colorado, but state officials are reluctant to promote that fact as a reason to visit. Probably that has something to do with it not being legal in most places outside of Colorado. Also, it is prohibited by federal law. But that hasn’t stopped private individuals engaged in tourism from encouraging people to come to Colorado for a Rocky Mountain high.
JJ Walker, CEO of Denver-based My 420 Tours, which claims to be North America’s first cannabis tour company, told the Denver Post recently, “It’s been quite a year.” He says his firm has provided tours to between 4,000 and 5,000 customers since recreational cannabis sales began Jan. 1, 2014. The company’s main offering is a $99, five-hour bus tour that includes stops at two dispensaries, a grow and a head shop. Smoking pot on the private luxury bus is allowed — and encouraged.
Tourists also can purchase multi-day packages that include stays at cannabis-friendly hotels. Walker said he uses three unnamed hotels — two in Denver and one in Vail — that allow in-room use of cannabis vaporizers and have private outdoor areas for smoking.
At least 18 other companies offer similar tours for people from out of state who want to discover the pleasures of cannabis without risking arrest.
In central Denver, The Adagio Bed and Breakfast at 1430 Race St. now bills itself as a “bud and breakfast” that caters to marijuana-oriented travelers. The lodge offers a morning “wake and bake” and an afternoon happy hour — starting at 4:20 p.m. — with beverages, snacks and three varieties of cannabis. Rates start at $249 per night.
Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, said the market for marijuana tourism is tiny compared to Colorado’s overall stature as a travel destination. “We just don’t have any research at all that says (marijuana) is driving demand,” he said. “When you have 14 million annual visitors, we just don’t see pot as a significant driver in that market.”
That may be so. But for some, Denver’s reputation as The Mile High City has taken on a whole new meaning.
Photo: Colorado Tourism Office