Cannabis Tourism Is on the Rise

Sam Rosenbaum has Stephen Colbert to thank for his career switch from accountant to cannabis tour operator.

The newly minted M.B.A. was watching an episode of “The Colbert Report” in 2014 when the comedian spoke of a “cannabis green rush” coming to Colorado, which had recently become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.

“The part about bus tours kind of jumped out at me,” Mr. Rosenbaum, 34, said. “I came up with High 5 Tours and registered it the next week.” It was a prescient move. One year later, when Mr. Rosenbaum’s home state of Oregon voted to legalize cannabis, High 5 Tours was the state’s first cannabis bus tour.

CreditHigh 5 Tours

Mr. Rosenbaum is not alone in his attempts in growing the world of cannabis tourism.

Eleven states in the United States so far have voted to allow people 21 and older to buy regulated amounts of cannabis product for consumption on private property. Sales systems are not yet in place in Michigan and Maine, and in Massachusetts a gradual licensing of dispensaries began last November. In Vermont, as in Washington, D.C., possession, growing and sharing cannabis are legal, but not buying or selling.

“There are really some amazing paintings that come out of it,” Ms. Keyes said. ”With smoking you’re able to concentrate better. The colors are more vibrant and people are more willing to think outside the box.”

My 420 Tours offers the Blaze & Gaze Graffiti Walking Tour ($29), a post-consumption 2.5-mile walking tour of Denver’s RiNo Art District, and the Sushi & Joint Rolling Class ($79). “It’s our plan to copy and paste this model across the country,” said Danny Schaefer, the chief executive of My 420 Tours.

California has also rolled out the green carpet for tourists. West Coast Cannabis Tours, in San Diego, offers various tours and classes, including an exclusive tour of a 32,000-square foot growing facility ($99). Todd Green, who started the company when only medical marijuana was legal, said, “Now that it’s recreational, people are coming out of the woodwork.”

But regulations abound, especially for bus tours. In Colorado, Oregon and California, passengers on tour buses are allowed to consume what they have just purchased at cannabis dispensaries, which is almost every tour’s first stop. However, in Washington and Nevada, laws prohibiting smoking in moving vehicles limit operators to tours that are strictly educational. Seattle Kush Tours, for example, offers a three-and-a half-hour tour for $99 that informs passengers about the new industry through stops at a dispensary, a growing site and a glass-pipe blowing demonstration. State law also prohibits the use of cannabis in a Seattle cannabis cooking class. Hemp is the substitute.

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