Marijuana Tourism in Weed Legal States
On April 20th, 2014, (or “420”, a slang term for marijuana linked to 1970s youth and drug culture in northern California), an early indication of the potential for marijuana tourism in weed legal states came when one travel booking site saw searches for Denver jump nearly 75% year-over-year, just months after recreational marijuana use was legalized in Colorado. On April 20th, 2016, it happened again. According to online hotel booking service Hotels.com, searches on that day increased in Colorado and also Washington, where recreational marijuana was legalized in July 2014, and Oregon, where it became legal in July 2015.
A terrific resource for marijuana tourism is KushTours.com, whose mission is to be a guide for travelers interested in cannabis culture and the industry. Another terrific resource is TwoTenTwice.com, a “one-stop-shop” for information regarding marijuana on the web.
Finally, PotGuide.com is a terrific resource to help you navigate the maze of legalized marijuana and it includes a complete dispensary directory, 420-friendly lodging options, cannabis-related events and weed legal activities, and easy to digest legal information.
Recreational Cannabis: The New Wild West
Yes, tourist interest in cities and weed legal states where you can legally buy and consume cannabis recreationally, without a medical license, has increased and will likely continue to increase … and new industries are seeking to serve those travelers and capitalize on the “Green Rush”, where more and more people will try to become legitimate and enter the cannabis industry, and more corporations will see the opportunity to make money.
Weed Legal States
Update: As of July 5, 2018, 9 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use — for adults over the age of 21 — with NO doctor’s letter required — and medical marijuana is now legal in 30 states. Here is the latest list of 420 friendly weed legal states:
Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check with each state for specific rules, stipulations, and limitations.
Alaska currently allows possession of up to an ounce of marijuana (roughly 30-40 joints) for personal use. You have to be 21 or older and you cannot smoke cannabis in public. Those over the age of 21 can possess, grow and give away up to six plants; however, only three can be flowering at one time. You can only buy or sell cannabis through licensed dispensaries.
Beginning in January 2018, California will allow the use of recreational marijuana; however, the state and individual cities and counties are still working out the details, and there will likely be many limitations on the drug. Those over the age of 21 will be able to possess up to an ounce and can grow up to six plants per residence. They will not be able to smoke it in public and it can only be bought or sold through licensed dispensaries.
The use of recreational marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2012 and the cannabis tourism industry has been booming ever since. You must be 21 years old to legally possess marijuana in Colorado and you can have up to one ounce and up to six plants, with three flowering at once. In January 2018, you will be able to legally grow up to 12 marijuana plants in Colorado. You can only buy or sell weed at licensed retail stores in Colorado and while you cannot smoke pot publicly, many hotels are 420 friendly and welcome tourists that want to smoke pot in their hotels.
Those that are 21 years or older can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and can grow up to three flowering plants (increased two six if it is for medical usage), 12 immature plants, and unlimited seedlings. You cannot smoke it publicly. Retail sales of recreational marijuana will probably happen once agencies have had time to form regulations for the new industry. The state has a solid medical program with dispensaries servings more than 50,000 registered patients.
The state’s elected officials are still working on the details of regulations and limitations. For now, it’s similar to its counterparts, allowing up to an ounce outside the home, and up to 10 ounces inside the home. You must be 21 years of age or older and you cannot smoke it publicly. You can buy or sell it from licensed dispensaries. According to New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm, sales of cannabis in Massachusetts are projected to increase from $52M in 2016 (when the only sales were medical marijuana) to $1.07B in 2020, with the vast majority of those sales being recreational. “We think it’s hugely consequential — Massachusetts becomes an anchor market on the East Coast,” said John Kagia, an analyst at New Frontier Data.
You must be 21 years or older to possess marijuana legally in Nevada. You can have up to one ounce and while you cannot smoke it publicly, some hotels do allow it. In the future, there may be marijuana resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard. You can grow it at home as long as you are not within 25 miles of any dispensary.
In Oregon, you must be 21 or older and you can possess up to eight ounces in your home and one ounce on your person. You cannot smoke pot in public and you can only buy or sell from licensed dispensaries. You are allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants on your property in Oregon.
In January 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational marijuana via the legislative process, as opposed to the ballot box. Adults 21 and older can now legally carry up to 1 ounce, as well as legally grow two mature and four additional immature plants at home. Medical marijuana users are permitted up to carry up to 2 ounces and grow as many as 12 plants.
In Washington state, you must be 21 years of age or older to legally possess or purchase marijuana. You are allowed to purchase up to one ounce from a licensed dispensary and possess up to six ounces. Washington is the only state on this list that does not allow recreational users to grow marijuana; only medical marijuana users can do that. You are not allowed to smoke it publicly.
In Washington, D.C. you can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, but not more than two. You can grow up to six plants in your home; however, no more than three can be mature at any one time. You cannot smoke in public and you cannot buy or sell it. The District of Columbia has fully legalized recreational and medical marijuana, but recreational-use commercial sale is currently blocked by Congress.
Cannabis Dispensaries by State
- Cannabis in Alaska
- Cannabis in California
- Cannabis in Colorado
- Cannabis in Maine
- Cannabis in Massachusetts
- Cannabis in Nevada
- Cannabis in Oregon
- Cannabis in Vermont
- Cannabis in Washington
Cannabis Festivals & Trade Shows
Here are some of the major cannabis festivals and trade shows in the USA.
The Cannabis Cup
The HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup is the world’s leading marijuana trade show, celebrating the world of ganja through competitions, instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts and product showcases. Hosted in weed legal states that have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, the Cannabis Cup stands as the foremost gathering place for the cannabis community to network and celebrate.
World Cannabis Week
World Cannabis Week has become the overwhelming leader of “4/20 Week” experiences across Denver. During this historic celebration, World Cannabis Week offers attendees to LIVE the cannabis industry from the inside out. WCW has been called the “SXSW of Cannabis”, the only hub that combines business, workshops, events, festivals and major sponsorship engagements in the world capital of cannabis. On top of the unique, curated experience, WCW is the first event of its kind to work with marijuana-friendly hotels and transportation services to ensure a worry (and paranoia) free experience.
Seattle Hempfest is an annual event in Seattle, Washington, the world’s largest annual gathering advocating the decriminalization of marijuana. The Seattle HEMPFEST® “protestival” started out as a humble little gathering of stoners and has grown into one of the most sophisticated cannabis policy reform events in the world. Early Hempfests “featured blatant marijuana smoking”; in fact, 60 people were cited for illegal marijuana use at the 1997 Hempfest, and about 20 were arrested the following year.
While you are in town for Hempfest, be sure to visit the tallest observation tower in Seattle and the 4th tallest in the U.S. … the Space Needle! And… while you are at it, take a spin on the Seattle Great Wheel, which is #9 on our list of the tallest Ferris wheels in the USA!
For additional cannabis festivals, click here.
Cannabis Tourism Travel Tips
Since things are still a bit like the “Wild West” when it comes to purchasing weed recreationally, here are a few travel tips for new cannabis smokers when traveling to weed legal states:
- You must be 21 and you will definitely need to show ID in order to purchase marijuana in weed legal states, just as you would if you were going to a bar or a club.
- Download an app like weedmaps.com or leafly.com to find a marijuana dispensary near you.
- Bring cash. Many dispensaries do not take credit or debit cards.
- Be sure to ask questions and be honest. The bud-tender can help ensure that you have a good first-time experience.
- Don’t try to smoke weed in public. Get a room.
- Speaking of getting a room, you should probably ask if it is ok to smoke grass … or, you could always vape.
- Take it slow, especially with edibles. Don’t worry, you are going to get plenty high!
- Don’t smoke and drive!
- Do NOT try to bring any leftover marijuana on the plane or cross any state lines with it.
- Write a review. Let others know about your experience (good or bad) … feedback is always helpful, especially in a competitive market like this one!
If you are looking for a huge selection of 420-friendly places to stay in the U.S. (and worldwide), check out budandbreakfast.com … some hosts will even leave a joint waiting for you on your pillow! You can also try the Colorado-centric alternative, travelthc.com.