The key to tourism is having an attraction that most people can’t get where they live. Things like beaches and warm weather, the shows of New York City, the casinos of Las Vegas, etc.
Enter legal recreational marijuana. It’s new and it’s limited to a few states as of right now. And best of all, it’s something that is very much in demand. What stoner doesn’t want to walk into a nice, clean store and buy some good quality cannabis?
So far this can only be done in Colorado and Washington, which means if you’re looking for a vacation that involves buying recreational cannabis, those are the only places you can go. Oregon will join that list in October.
As you can imagine, certain times of year are more popular than others when it comes to cannabis tourism; for example, searches for travel packages to Denver spike around April 20th. This means a ton of economic activity for the city and the state — money they otherwise would never see.
Of course, legalization advocates predicted all of this years ago. As legalization spreads across the country there will be pockets of legalization that will draw tourists from the rest. This effect will lessen as more states legalize; after all, you can legalize cannabis in Minnesota but you can’t legalize a beach and warm water in December.
For now, marijuana tourism dollars are the rewards that go to the states that have the guts to legalize early on. Imagine legal weed in Las Vegas or Florida, places that already survive on tourist dollars and get a massive influx of people from out of town/state all year long.
Tourism is a simple industry. You have to have reasons for people to leave the area they are comfortable in and spend money to come to your area. Legal weed is a pretty good reason for people to travel.