Pubdate: Tue, 04 Jun 2013
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2013 Summit Daily News
Author: Caddie Nath


When Matt Brown and his business partner staged World Cannabis Week 
earlier this year, they thought they were putting together a one-time event.

But cannabis fans across the country changed their plans.

"The response was completely overwhelming," said Brown, now 
co-founder of Colorado's first marijuana tourism company, My 420 
Tours. "We set out to throw a party and accidentally launched a business."

Their inaugural tour, held during the April 20 festivities, sold out 
and the company now has thousands of prospective clients lined up, 
waiting for their chance to book a marijuana vacation.

To Brown, when voters approved Amendment 64 making it legal for 
adults over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of recreational 
marijuana, they did more than give him a platform to start a 
business. They gave marijuana enthusiasts across the country one more 
reason to come to Colorado.

"(Say) you're going to take a ski vacation, and you're going to go to 
Utah or Colorado. If you enjoy marijuana, the case became much 
clearer for Colorado," he said. "The mountains will see it, the 
cities will see it. We're all going to see a boost."

His company is already exploring opportunities to join mountain 
tourism with marijuana tourism. He envisions tours that could cater 
to everyone from skiers and snowboarders looking to enjoy the drug at 
the X Games to "little old ladies doing yoga and learning to cook 
with pot in the mountains."

And he's not the only one who sees huge opportunities in marijuana 
tourism in the High Country. Others, some on the Front Range and 
others in the resort communities, are already looking into the idea.

"There will be marijuana tourism in the mountains," Breckenridge 
marijuana attorney Sean McAllister said. "People are coming to 
Colorado already because this law has changed and the extent to which 
mountain towns allow it or tolerate it will make those kinds of 
tourists more comfortable or less comfortable."

The towns in Summit County have generally hesitated to take a 
position on recreational marijuana, but a series of bills signed into 
law by the governor last month laid the groundwork for cannabis-based 
tourism to find a foothold. Visitors, those whose primary residence 
is outside the state of Colorado, are legally allowed to possess and 
consume marijuana under the new laws. Though more restricted than 
in-state residents, they will also be allowed to purchase small 
quantities of the drug.

McAllister said they may also be able to smoke in hotel rooms, if the 
lodging company decides to allow it.

"Hotels will be allowed to have smoking rooms, but no more than 25 
percent," he said. "That's very good news for most tourists."

Owners of private rental properties can also grant permission for 
guests to use the drug on the premises.

Still, it's unclear how the existing tourism industry will react to 
the changes many believe are coming. Officials with the Colorado 
Tourism Office have refused to take a stance on the issue, saying 
there are still "uncertainties and issues to be resolved around Amendment 64."

Still, local marketing officials and marijuana supporters alike say 
they don't expect legalization to alter the character of guest 
experiences in the mountains. They say Breckenridge, where marijuana 
was decriminalized several years ago and dispensaries thrive at the 
center of tourist areas, is evidence the transition can be a smooth one.

"It's not really possible to predict how it's going to effect tourism 
in Breckenridge," Breckenridge Resort Chamber spokeswoman Rachel 
Zerowin said. "The suggestion is that it's really not going to change 
much for visitors in the town."

Under the new statewide laws, the first marijuana retails stores may 
open after Jan. 1 in communities that choose to allow recreational 
use. Unless banned by a local municipality, it is currently legal for 
adults over the age of 21 to possess and consume the drug.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom