When one thinks of marijuana tourism, Amsterdam is usually the first place that comes to mind. With over 700 cannabis cafes and 1.5 million tourists per year, much of Amsterdam’s tourism industry is due to marijuana.
In the near future Amsterdam may have some stiff competition for marijuana tourists. Shortly after the states of Colorado and Washington passed legalization initiatives on Election Day, speculation began about how it may draw travelers who wish to openly consume cannabis.
Significantly, marijuana is not even legalized in Amsterdam. It was merely decriminalized in the 1970’s and the Dutch government remains vague about its laws. Earlier this year they attempted to make it illegal for foreigners to visit cannabis cafes, which would have effectively destroyed Amsterdam’s tourism. In late October, that law was scrapped much to the joy of travelers.
According to an article by the Associated Press, Washington state is looking forward to more weed tourism since it already hosts the annual Hempfest in Seattle:
Every summer on the shores of the Puget Sound, Seattle is host to “Hempfest,” which according to organizers attracted around 250,000 people over three days this year. For those three days, people are largely left alone to smoke publicly at a local park, even as police stand by.
“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,” said executive director Vivian McPeak. “It’s reasonable to assume that people will travel to Washington assuming that the federal government doesn’t interfere.”
Medical marijuana is enormously successful in Colorado with an estimated $1.7 billion in annual revenue and several small towns, like Breckenridge, already decriminalized marijuana years before this measure. So Colorado law enforcement has been very relaxed in recent years about marijuana consumption.
Already boasting a huge skiing industry with famous slopes in Aspen and Vail, ski bums may now have an even bigger reason to come to Colorado. However, under the new law people are still banned from smoking in public, which would make it difficult to rival the freedom and openness in Amsterdam.
Colorado’s governor John Hickenlooper, who opposed Amendment 64, is not too optimistic about his state getting a boost from marijuana tourism,“I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
“They’re going to flock here to buy marijuana as if they’re going to take it back? On an airplane? That seems unlikely to me,” he added.
The Sheriff of the popular ski area of Pitkin County, Joe DiSalvo, told The Aspen Times that he will not pursue weed tourists. “For me, it’s going to be live and let live. If people want to come to Colorado because pot is legal — and that’s the sole reason — it’s up to them. I am not the lifestyle police.”
With that kind of welcome from law enforcement, “Aspendam” may indeed become a reality.
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