A niche market is beginning to emerge in the cannabis industry: tourism. Gone are the days when people just sit at home and toke up in their basement while playing video games. Nowadays, people want to enjoy their cannabis while they travel. There’s also a large social aspect to a lot of the cannabis tourism trends. People want to meet others, mingle, and talk about their favorite plant. But getting this budding market off the ground hasn’t been easy.
One of the biggest challenges facing businesses in this specialty travel market is navigating the myriad of state cannabis laws that can vary widely from one state to another. Operators in Canada have it a little easier since recreational weed became legal in October 2018. But that doesn’t mean tourism companies in the United States are feeling left out. They’re getting creative and offering great ways to enjoy cannabis while on the road.
Here are some of the top cannabis tourism trends that have emerged over the last few years.
Tours of grow facilities
Cannabis growers are taking a page from the book of wine vineyards by offering guided tours of their facilities. These tours, either on their own or combined with other destinations, offer visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how cannabis goes from seed (or clone) to a fully mature plant that’s ready to harvest.
One such tour operator, 420 Tours, located in Denver, Colorado, takes travelers on a luxury bus to a 7,000 square foot greenhouse. Workers show how cannabis is cultivated, cloned, and finally harvested. Afterward, visitors can sample products that came from the greenhouse with professional budtenders helping them make their selections.
Growing cannabis is as much of an art as it is a science. Visitors to these grow facilities will see all the work that goes into creating the perfect bud. These tours are great for those who want to increase their cannabis knowledge and sample some great new products.
Bus tours are the bread and butter of cannabis tourism. These tours take visitors to different dispensaries, grow facilities, and lounges, often letting passengers smoke to their heart’s content while on the bus (the drivers are sealed off from the passenger area). Further, experienced guides are on hand to answer questions and explain the different strains their passengers consume.
For those visiting cities like Denver, bus tours offer a fairly economical way to experience the city’s cannabis scene, with many tours costing less than $100 per person.
Bed and Breakfasts
When recreational cannabis first became legal in Colorado in 2014, visitors to the state faced a problem: where could they legally smoke their bud? Colorado law made it illegal to smoke in public places and most hotels have strict no-smoking policies. This left tourists with few options unless they wanted to stick with edibles.
To fill the void, niche bed and breakfasts have been popping up all over Colorado, Canada, and other places where recreational cannabis is legal. These lodgings not only give tourists a place to stay but also allow them to freely smoke.. Bed and breakfasts can range from very modern in large cities to a more rustic feel in more remote areas in the mountains.
Another growing trend in cannabis tourism is the advent of vacation rentals. Renting an entire house offers more privacy, more space for a larger number of guests, and a great way to enjoy your favorite weed. Further, many rentals are off the beaten path, away from large cities or tourist areas where visitors really can get away from it all.
In Canada, one company is taking the idea of Airbnb to a higher level. PotRentals allows cannabis-friendly homeowners to rent out their entire house, or even a single room, to those tourists looking for something a little more unique. The company currently serves most big cities in Canada and is looking to expand to other areas of the country.
Even Airbnb, the original DIY vacation rental company, allows for cannabis-friendly listings in states where it’s legal. The company has no official policy about cannabis other than both those listing their properties and those renting must follow the local laws.
Luxury Cannabis Tourism
If you have deep pockets and want a more premium experience, then there are companies who will cater to your every need. Everything from gourmet meals, massages, to custom itineraries designed around the traveler’s tastes, luxury travel companies will go to great lengths to please their clients. One such company, Butiq Escapes, creates custom vacations for their clients that often include the use of a private jet.
These luxury tour companies include more than just a way to smoke weed in comfort. Many of them also include spas, gourmet restaurants, and private tours of upscale lounges where clients can sample a variety of cannabis products.
Cannabis Tourism Will Only Grow
As more states are making recreational cannabis legal, or planning to in the near future, it’s easy to see why this specialty market is ripe for major growth over the next few years. While bus tours and grow facility tours will remain a staple of this industry, tour companies will also offer more unique, personalized experiences for those willing to pay a higher price. But whether you go for a simple bus tour or splurge on a luxury vacation, cannabis tourism offers something truly different.