DONALD WOOD APRIL 19, 2022
As the United States and other countries move to decriminalize the use of medical and recreational marijuana, many travelers are left wondering what kind of impact the legalization would have on domestic and international tourism.
In the U.S., recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states and Washington, D.C. and medical use is permitted in over 35 states. From an international perspective, countries like Canada have completely legalized the plants and more than 40 other nations support its use for recreational or medical reasons.
Malta recently legalized it. Germany is on the brink of full legalization for recreational use. Mexico has talked about the possibility of legalizing it someday, which would undoubtedly lead to a rise in travelers visiting popular places like Cancun and Los Cabos.
Marijuana tourism first took off in the United States but it is absolutely going global now.
In a study conducted in the Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, Soo Kanga and Jaeseok Lee break down the positive manner in which residents in Colorado have reacted to the influx of marijuana tourism—also known as cannabis tourism—following its legalization.
Research findings suggest that the more residents perceive a positive impact, the more likely they will support tourism.
To be blunt, the perception of weed has changed, and that’s a good thing for travel.
“Every aspect of the travel industry could see a boost in sales,” Travel Agent expert Tammy Levent said. “Travel agencies could sell more packages, transportation will increase, restaurants will have more patrons, hotels will enjoy more bookings, and even the entertainment establishments such as performing arts centers and sporting stadiums will see more guests.”
A Gallup poll from August 2021 found that 49 percent of Americans have at least tried marijuana, with 12 percent of respondents regularly using it. The total is even more for Millennials (20 percent) as compared to Gen Xers (11 percent) and baby boomers (nine percent).
A study conducted by Kayak also found that nearly 33 percent of American travelers 21 years of age and older are interested in visiting a cannabis dispensary while traveling and about 25 percent of respondents ages 21-34 have already traveled to a destination because cannabis was legal.
“Cannabis tourism has come a long way over the past five-10 years,” Front Row Travels’ Ayanna Lawson said. “Initially seen as just a walk through a few weed farms and another reason to get high, the cannabis tourism industry as a whole is starting to pull back the curtain and mystery surrounding cannabis and plant medicine in general.”