Surrounded by the growing fever pitch of global conglomerate interest coming from so many other industries, the stakes continue to mount for anything and everything that touches cannabis. Indeed, the cannabis industry continues to punch through full legalization while facing so many obstacles, including corporate intrusion from big-money sectors eager to strike it rich in the green rush, to opposition from those who obstruct legalization efforts via lobbying and “donations” to elected officials. But if the likes of Constellation Brands, Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola are entering the fray, you can bet they will be investing in creating the market conditions ripe for their particular pot-infused offerings.
Until we bust open global cannabis legalization, tourism to regions that allow for the legal purchase and consumption of the plant will remain an increasingly in-demand travel experience. Tourists simply want to enjoy cannabis in all its forms and rituals, including legal purchasing at a dispensary, sampling of edibles and medibles, public consumption, and general social activities that align with consumption. Nothing breaks down the status quo quite like transparency and exposure, and travel can be the best form of immersion, especially for those without cannabis access in their home states or countries.
April Black is founder of Higher Way Travel a cannabis-positive, full-service travel agency. She has plenty of experience connecting the cannabis curious and enthusiasts alike with their dream adventure, and she advises that for people planning a 420-friendly trip, the best strategy is to be upfront and direct. “Be specific, ask questions to seek out unique experiences,” says Black. “If you want to smoke a spliff while drinking a piña colada out of a coconut, simply ask if you can! Zone in on what you are looking for and ask the questions you want so you can maximize your experience, time and money. Enriching and enlightened travel can fit many budgets.”
Nine states in the US currently allow for legal recreational cannabis consumption, and in a matter of days the plant will be federally legal in neighboring Canada, meaning you will soon be able to consume cannabis endlessly in Cascadia, from the top of Alaska all the way down to the US southern border with Mexico. In this vast region, you’ll find some of the most popular tourist spots, natural attractions and towns in North America, many of which already cater to the growing cannabis market.
Read on for more insight and recommendations into planning your ultimate fall weed-cation or ganja getaway.
Hit The Beach For Bountiful Bud
Black calls a cannabis getaway to Jamaica “the quintessential tropical vacation.” Jamaica may have one of the most prominent cannabis reputations, but to its people, the plant simply represents just another way to unwind and enjoy yourself — in other words, it’s no big deal. While recreational cannabis in the Caribbean island nation remains illegal, possession of up to two ounces is a petty offense and will not result in a police record. Local Rastafarians may freely use cannabis for religious purposes.
Jamaica also has a medical marijuana program in place, which allows tourists who carry a prescription to apply for a local purchase permit. Then, you’re free to visit local shops, such as the award-winning farm, cafe and extraction facility Kaya Herb House, located near Ochos Rios. Jamaican cannabis is truly ubiquitous and will be easy to find, affordable, and in vast quantities. Plus, visitors will often find they’re not asked to present their medical card prior to purchase. However, don’t take the plant’s prevalence as license to ask any stranger you meet where you can score. Be polite and civilized about it, and feel free to respectfully and tactfully inquire of, say, hospitality workers or your fellow patrons.
Hurricane season in Jamaica lasts from June 1 to November 30, and while this may be a deterrent for people concerned by the threat of inclement weather, it means getting to the Caribbean at this time of year is affordable. Though you’re likely to find a good deal on airfare for fall, it’s advised you purchase travel insurance, should a tropical storm threaten to rain on your pot parade.
Dab-Friendly Destination In The Desert
Autumn is a great time to visit the desert — it’s still warm enough for daytime pool action, but nights are cooler and much less stifling. Visit Las Vegas to witness firsthand what luxury adult-use cannabis on demand could really look like. You can book your hotel, then order a subscription Weekend Box, filled with local Sin City cannabis goodies, to be delivered straight to your suite. Stop by a 24-hour dispensary on your ride into town, and be all set for the entire duration of your stay, with no barriers to cannabis access whatsoever.
In order to be able to smoke somewhat freely in your Vegas accommodation, be sure to book a room with a balcony, which will limit your hotel choices to the likes of The Cosmopolitan, Palms, The Signature at MGM Grand, and one or two others on or near the Strip.
When it comes to eating and drinking, the portion sizes and cocktails in Las Vegas are as big as a bathtub, so you’ll need to make sure you’re as hungry as possible before hitting the all-you-can-eat buffet. After toking on the high-quality cannabis that’s readily available, you’ll be fully set to enjoy the big food scene on offer in the desert gambling mecca. Smoke a large stick of Tahoe Hydro White Sangria, available at Blüm medical dispensary, before satisfying your munchies at the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace.
If you’re on the road back to Los Angeles from Sin City, Palm Springs represents a delightful pot pit stop. This area of the Coachella Valley is where you’ll find a proliferation of bud and breakfasts, including the unique Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast in Idyllwild, plus plentiful cannabis shops in neighboring Cathedral City and Palm Desert.
For the fashion forward among us and collectors of mid-century modern decor, Palm Springs and the surrounding area has some of the best thrift shopping in California. Once you have what you need to kit out your home to look vintage chic, Palm Springs’ various cannabis-friendly hotels, like Desert Hot Springs Inn, will allow you to wine, dine and unwind by the pool while you soak up the local herb and desert rays.
Enjoy A Fatty In The Forest
The North American West Coast, from Canada all the way down to the Mexican border, is famed for its microclimates that have the region pumping out blue-ribbon beer, wine, cider and, of course, cannabis. For a weed buff, having your pick of verdant Pacific coast gems to indulge your passion makes the thought of a long, meandering road trip all the more digestible.
Seattle is an excellent launching pad for adventures pointed both north and south, with the Uncle Ike’s dispensaries among the best-stocked cannabis shops in the Pacific Northwest. Cannabis chef Derek Simcik regularly hosts one-off multi-course cannabis-inspired dinner events, but you can also check out his culinary skills at Scout at the Thompson Seattle, where the eats are somewhat more virgin.
If you want to head north of the border, there’s no better time to visit Vancouver, with legalization just days away in Canada. Be extra vigilant about not accidentally bringing any product back over the US border, as there has been an increase in reports of cannabis crackdowns, especially for non-US citizens, and US Customs and Border Protection is a federal agency, which means it considers cannabis to be illegal.
If a border crossing makes you nervous, heading to Portland and into the wilds of central Oregon is not a bad move either, as seeing the leaves change in that region of the Pacific Northwest is the ultimate in autumnal beauty worthy of a postcard. If you’re lucky, you can catch the weed or wine harvest, perhaps even both. In many of the vast valleys of Oregon and Washington, cannabis, hops, grapes and cider apples grow and flow plentifully, making for some spectacular small-scale tasting events.
Megan Dooley Fisher, cannabis pro and relationship manager for precision-dosing vaporizer and app Gofire, says that the picture-perfect fall experience in between Oregon and San Francisco is where you want to head for your cannabis travels. “Fall is harvest season, and that makes it a exciting time to visit the Emerald Triangle, where much of California’s cannabis is grown,” she says. “Visit Emerald Pharms for sure! It’s located on the site of the Solar Living Institute. You can camp there, rent a cottage, and children are also allowed on the premises!”
Marijuana In The Mountains
Colorado, the US first legal haven for getting high, has been a constant innovator for the cannabis community, and if you’re taking a trip purely to experience such pleasures, the Centennial State makes for a great, all-inclusive destination. Forward-thinking Denver in particular is opening up to social consumption spaces, even providing a transportation option with a cannabis theme in the form of the Loopr bus, where avid smokers can partake while making strategic stops around the city as part of a bud crawl. A Loopr day pass starts at $35, which is competitive to ride-sharing for a traveler.
Skiing and cannabis-friendly locations represent a nice overlap for tourists. The newly minted markets of Vermont and British Columbia are two of the bigger ski regions, other than Colorado, where cannabis consumption is allowed. Live in the lap of luxury at the Four Seasons Whistler, enjoy the 420 Package at Aspen Canyon Ranch, or visit one of Vermont’s amazing small-town eateries like The Shed brewery, known for its local cheeses and beers, located near epic Mount Mansfield.
Black of Higher Way notes that she has definitely seen an uptick in tourists looking for a cannabis travel experience, which is also helping to break down the resolve of those stubborn states that do not yet have a rec program in place. “I see cannabis in general losing the stigma and taboo more and more,” she says. “People have always wanted to get high when they travel, now it’s not something you ask the hotel staff for on the down-low. It is something that is curated just for the guests’ experience. There are hotels that cater and promote cannabis, some that even grow it on property! Would you prefer a sativa or an indica with your dinner this evening? People are definitely not in the cannabis closet anymore!”
The nexus of cannabis and travel is only just now starting to interact in measurable ways. Considering how sizeable tourism and hospitality are to our economy, this intersecting new economy will only continue to grow when the big-money players and innovators realize how much green there is to be made — and smoked — right under their very noses.