Recreational Marijuana Vacations and Educational Tours: Could this happen in Vegas in the people decide to Vote YES on 2? What do you think?
Colorado legalized recreational marijuana and it opened up the door for marijuana tourism. This story outlines the experience of one tourism group that is education marijuana tourists about all facets of cannabis. Could this happen in Vegas in the people decide to Vote YES on 2? What do you think?
That tour is a two-hour ride in a Mercedes-Benz van that picks you up in Downtown Denver, drives you to a state-of-the-art, 13,000-square-foot grow facility where you see 3,000 marijuana plants go from “seed to sale,” or from small plants to products. At the end, you are flushed out into a dispensary where you’re treated to discounted prices on products made from plants harvested in the facility you just toured.
It also includes an educational video and cheeky presentation, led by Waldfogel, on the history of marijuana prohibition and how marijuana legalization eventually came to pass.
The tour I took was a smoking tour, which meant our group — about eight people from Houston, San Francisco, Austin, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Cherry Hill, New Jersey — were allowed to consume inside the van on our way to the grow house. Two older women sitting behind me audibly sighed when they realized they could smoke, noting they hadn’t brought anything for the ride.
It started with why cannabis was made illegal. He told the story of the end of alcohol prohibition, and how many of the agents of that era found new work with The Federal Bureau of Narcotics. At that time, the agency was headed by Harry Anslinger, a villain of pot-enthusiasts that ignored the 29 scientists he consulted who informed him that cannabis did no harm and instead followed the research of the one who said it did.
Once Colorado passed Amendment 64, making recreational marijuana legal, business exploded in Denver. More than 1,000 business licenses were given out to 450 unique locations, forcing the city to put a cap on business licenses. Driving through Denver, you can see why: there is a dispensary about every 45 seconds.
Most people know tidbits about Colorado’s tax system on marijuana. For instance, the 15 percent excise tax on wholesale marijuana sales — when retailers buy from cultivators — helps fund school capital construction projects as part of amendment 64. The first 40 million dollars from this tax goes into the fund every year.
The presentation came to an end inside the parking lot of the grow house, where we were all asked to stop consuming any product.. We were also advised that there was no personal photography inside, and while there would be a cameraman with us anyone and everyone could opt out of having their photo taken. I opted in.
Inside the facility, the group was led into a room where we slipped on thin protective suits. One of the guides explained that the suit wasn’t for us but the plants, which we weren’t allowed to touch. Though they had become accustomed to other growers, they could be infected by spider mites or male pollen that tourists can track in.
Aside from your standard dispensary products like marijuana and extracts like wax, there was an eclectic mix of mints, chocolates, gummies, THC-infused agave syrup (it’s Gluten free!), and marijuana cookies. There were also lightly carbonated cannabis drinks, drops you could put on your tongue, and most surprising to me: an assortment of topical creams.
As an active runner, I decided to grab some of these to try on my sore knees and feet. I was pleasantly surprised at the results, which didn’t include any kind of high but did relax the muscles and give relief from soreness.
That, on top of the obvious monetary gains of legalization, might be enough to sell the rest of the country on following Colorado’s lead. For now, though, you’ll have to find your way to Denver if you want to see a budding pot industry.