Originally Published: December 26th, 2014.
Cannabis laws are being reformed in many states throughout America, and similar changes are being made all over the world as people are learning more about the benefits that can be obtained from this plant with the not-so-positive reputation. While the one-and-only Amsterdam, Netherlands has been known as the place for marijuana-friendly tourists to vacation, some people would prefer to escape to a warmer, perhaps even tropical, destination. Now that laws are being reformed, there are many warm-climate destinations joining the realm of marijuana tourism.
In many places, as long as users are discreet, countries and local authorities may be nonchalant about marijuana use. Some countries are even beginning to encourage the reputation as a marijuana-friendly tourist destination because of the business and revenue it generates.
There are several amazing places that every marijuana enthusiast must visit at some point. Below are 5 of the warm-weather examples. The places on this list were evaluated by weather, activities offered, beauty, acceptance, and laws.
The United States purchased the 3 Virgin Island territories in the Caribbean, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, from Denmark almost 100 years ago. The three islands combined offer something for everyone, and they are all a short boat or plane ride from one another. St. Thomas has fun, sun, sand, a hot nightlife, and is an ideal spot for those who love to shop. St. John is a dream for the nature tourist, with stunning hiking trails, and very little of the island being inhabited. St. Croix is a scuba diver’s paradise, boasting some of the best dive sites in the world.
Although the islands share one local body of government, they are still technically regulated by the United States federal government, and therefore have operated under the same marijuana laws. However, perhaps inspired by the policy reform that swept the most recent U.S. election, the USVI senate recently voted to decriminalize marijuana possession with a quiet passing of a marijuana decriminalization bill. Now, an adult found in possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis may be ticketed and fined up to $200 with no jail time. Law enforcement officers will also have the right to choose whether to confiscate the plant at that time.
photo credit: West End WS
This southeast Asian nation, just north of the equator, borders Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, and offers many activities to entice every type of traveler. Tourists can explore ancient temples, trek to hidden mountain waterfalls, scuba dive, shop, or even relax on the beach.
Although cannabis is technically illegal in Cambodia, it is one of the country’s largest export crops, and locals use it regularly as medicine and cooking. It is also reported to be commonly smoked in the open. Many tourists on Trip Advisor report Happy Herb Pizza places as having pies on the menu that use cannabis as a topping. The same chain pizza restaurant reportedly sells joints. Thanks to Cambodia, tropical vacations in Asia can be added to the list of marijuana-friendly vacation destinations.
photo credit: Phnom Penh Happy Pizza
The tropical island country of Jamaica hosts thousands of people each year. Tourists travel from all over the world to bask in the tropical sun on the island’s beautiful beaches, swim in bioluminescent bays, and experience rastafarian culture. Although cannabis has been very illegal in Jamaica, tourists have never had difficulty finding it. Some tourists have even arranged to be taken on pot-sampling tours.
Now that the Jamaican government is officially decriminalizing marijuana possession, and even considering establishing retail sales of the plant, tourists and locals alike no longer have to fear being arrested for partaking. This applies to the entire island.
photo credit: Island Buzz Jamaica
Australia is a large country that offers different climates depending on which part you travel to. The north part of the country tends to have a tropical climate, while the south end of the island nation is home to a more sub-tropical, temperate climate. The Northern Territory is known for beautiful landscapes of red desert, vast flood-planes, cavernous gorges, and aboriginal villages. South Australia boats beautiful beaches, wine regions, and the outback. Just as the weather differs depending on which state you are in, so do the marijuana laws. In South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis is decriminalized and punishable by a civil fine.
Even in the Australian states where marijuana possession is illegal, like New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the island region of Tasmania, it is unlikely that a person will be arrested for having only a personal amount because law enforcement in Australia make efforts to divert users into educational classes rather than jails. Plus, medical marijuana is expected to be legalized in Victoria soon, and many other Australian states, including the territory island of Tasmania, are currently organizing efforts to push for marijuana policy reform. In the not-so-distant future, the entire country of Australia may be a marijuana friendly tourist destination.
photo credit: Wayn Quilliam Photography
Beach destinations at the far south tip of Mexico are already popular tourist vacation destinations, but the huge country of Mexico has even more to offer than sun and sand. Mexico is home to many different activities to meet the needs of almost any traveler.
In Mexico, travelers may experience ancient Mayan ruins, world-class museums, hiking trails, caves and cenotes, adventure tours, and some of the best street food in the world. Marijuana tourists can experience all of this while, legally, possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use. As of 2009, personal possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis is decriminalized throughout the country of Mexico. Many travelers have warned, however, that being caught with more than 5 grams can turn into a very ugly legal situation, so be sure to possess only up to the lawful limit.
photo credit: Trekexchange
As Nevada considers legalizing recreational marijuana and Las Vegas salivates over potential profits from sales to tourists, cannatourism — regardless of the destination — is rapidly growing as a market. What was originally an expensive trip to Amsterdam or Vancouver has become a drive or flight to California, Washington, or Colorado.
Colorado is currently the epicenter of everything cannabis after having legalized recreational use in 2014. During the past 17 months, literally thousands of small businesses have appeared within the state to cultivate, manufacture, and sell cannabis and related products.
But what about the poor souls in states lacking legalization of any kind? In most areas of the United States, the kind herb is still outlawed and all activity regarding its sale or consumption remains underground, purposefully hidden due to prohibition. This situation has spawned the emergence of a thriving marijuana-friendly tourism and hospitality market in states where it is legal. Colorado is home to a growing assortment of cannabis-themed hotels, lodges, tours, and services.
How to Get Around?
While United Airlines might not allow passengers to burn one down during the flight from their home state, tourists can rest assured that they can toke (or vape) up from the time they land to the time they return to the airport to leave the Centennial State.
First, tourists who are going to be getting high shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car. That’s where 420 Airport Pickup steps in. For $75, the service picks up passengers at Denver International Airport, makes a stop at a dispensary, and then deposits riders at their hotel. The service will even rent vaporizers to customers who book a round trip. Patients can be fully medicated before they even check into their room.
Where to Stay?
Cannabis-friendly hotels and lodges have begun to appear throughout Colorado. One credible option is Bud + Breakfast, a new group of hotels and lodges in the Denver area. The company currently offers two properties, The Adagio and Silverthorne.
The Adagio is a six-suite Victorian home (photo above), while Silverthorne (photo below) is a lodge featuring four suites. Both locations allow guests to smoke up — but encourage them to do so in public areas of the facilities, not locked up in their rooms like criminals. In addition to their “wake and bake breakfast sessions,” both hotels also hold a “420 Happy Hour.”
Joel Schneider, CEO of the Maryjane Group, Inc., which owns Bud + Breakfast, stated:
“We create a social experience for our guests. We insist that they smoke in the common areas, such as the living rooms, dining room, and the outdoor patio. We want our guests to feel at home and experience cannabis together.”
Rooms at The Adagio run $179 to $399, while those at Silverthorne are more affordable at $149 to $199. Potential guests shouldn’t fear being surrounded by twentysomethings smoking blunts and listening to rap music. In fact, CEO Schneider said that most of the two hotels’ guests are in their early 50s to early 60s.
What to Do?
Colorado is nothing if not some of the most beautiful country in the United States. Those who want to get out of the city and see the great outdoors should check out one of the Club CannaBus Tours. These five-hour bus tours, priced at $250 per person, include some of Colorado’s most gorgeous mountain scenery, stops at two of the area’s most reputable dispensaries, a visit to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and a smoke-out — at an undisclosed location — at 4:20 pm. Cruise participants can choose from either northern or southern mountain tours (the southern tour reaches an elevation of two miles).
Many who visit Colorado — and the Denver area in particular — are interested in the dispensary and shop scene. Those from prohibitionist states often can’t visit enough retail outlets, their minds blown each time they swing the door of a legal business that just so happens to sell cannabis and edibles.
Enter Colorado Cannabis Tours. The service offers a 420-friendly limo, makes a stop at the infamous Cheba Hut sub shop, visits two or three dispensaries, attends a glass blowing demo, and even drops in on a 40,000 square foot cultivation facility. The company also encourages its customers to swap cannabis samples with one other. Tours run from noon to 4:20 each Saturday and tickets are only $99.
Fans of the cannabis culture who wish to openly consume with likeminded others don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a week in Amsterdam or Barcelona. An entirely different world — and an affordable vacation — is a short flight away in Denver, complete with cannabis-friendly limos, hotels, and tours.
photo credit: Bud + Breakfast; Colorado Cannabis Tours
Until recently the tiny town of Sisters, Oregon was not ready to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within city limits. In November, twelve hundred voters in this mountain town will reconsider that decision because of a large demand for medical marijuana by citizens.
Currently, the nearest medical marijuana dispensary is twenty-two miles away in Bend, Oregon. Medical marijuana patients living in Sisters have realized that they would rather be able to obtain medicine in their home town than drive forty minutes to get it. Measure 9-101 can change that.
Sisters, Oregon City Council President, McKibben Womack told KLCC News,
“Proponents are saying we want it because then we don’t have to travel to Bend. Obviously there are those who are in pain and say this is the only thing that works. Those who are against– their big concerns are our children.”
If Measure 9-101 passes in November, the city council will be responsible for establishing regulations to respond to the concerns of the marijuana ending up in the hands of children. Any dispensary, of course, will still have to follow the state imposed guidelines for operation which include strict rules for location in proximity to schools, residential neighborhoods and the like.
More and more Americans are being introduced to the benefits of medical marijuana, and how much it is helping to relieve symptoms of those suffering from debilitating medical conditions throughout the world. For this same reason, it is likely that more districts throughout the state may revisit original decisions against medical marijuana dispensaries.
photo credit: bendhouseseller.com