The MSN Traveler

New Amsterdams?

Marijuana tourism to Washington and Colorado will have to wait until the smoke clears.

By MSN Local Edition Dec 6, 2012 12:04PM

Photo courtesy Dank Depot/flickr

By John Rosenthal

Now that voters in Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, will tourism rates to those states suddenly go sky high with smokers from all over the west?  Not so fast, say the experts.

Both states amended their constitutions to treat cannabis largely the same way they consider alcohol, and prosecutors in both states have already dropped charges against recreational marijuana users. But because federal law still prohibits production, distribution, and possession of marijuana, nobody expects a weed stampede to Washington and Colorado until the U.S. Justice Department indicates whether it will prosecute drug offenses in those states.

Plus it will probably be more than a year before legislatures in each state implement regulations on how the plants may be grown and sold.  So for now, the popular Baked in Telluride restaurant won’t be selling any space cakes or Rocky Mountain high pie, and the only mind-altering substance you’ll find at a Seattle coffeehouse is caffeine.

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Washingtonians can keep track of the path to legalization at the state Liquor Control Board’s website: And the Seattle Police Department recently published a primer called Marijwhatnow, which answers the most common questions about production, sale, and possession.  Even after the laws take effect, both states will continue to prohibit use by minors, and will retain strong penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana.

While the ballot initiatives made big news, they largely formalized situations that have existed unofficially for years. In 2005, Denver became the first major U.S. city to decriminalize adult possession of the drug, and medical marijuana has been legal—and widely available—In both states for more than a decade. 

“I’m amazed at the number of 24-year-olds who are in chronic pain in this state,” said Al White, Director of the Colorado Tourism Office.

For the past 20 years, Seattle has had an annual taste of legalized marijuana at Hempfest, a three-day celebration in a park in the middle of the city where police ignore dope-smokers.  Colorado’s skiing and snowboarding resorts are also familiar with a little grass poking up through the snow.  According to the Associated Press, legalization enjoyed its strongest support in places like Aspen, Vail, and Telluride, where nearly 80 percent of voters favored it.

More on Local: Tourists can still toke in Amsterdam

So for the immediate future, weed tourism is unlikely to catch fire in either state.  “What will benefit tourism to Washington even more is the position the electorate took toward gay marriage,” said Darrell Bryan, CEO of Clipper Vacations, a Seattle travel agency.  “A lot of gay people have been going to British Columbia to get married, but  I expect more of them to come to Washington now that it’s legal here.”

Meanwhile, the incoming government of the Netherlands in October rejected a plan for a “weed pass” that would have prohibited non-residents from patronizing the country’s renowned “coffee shops.”  Instead, it gave individual cities the option to bar  foreigners from marijuana cafes, but nobody expects Amsterdam to do so because so many of its tourism dollars come from recreational pot smokers.

Dec 15, 2012 8:45PM
Who needs it to be legal? I've been smoking marijuana 40 years with no problem.  Our politicians are a bunch of idiots and fools. I don't need them to get marijuana.  If they are too stupid to reap the benefits of legalizing it and taxing it then f...... them! Dumba$$es! Its not going to be any cheaper when its legal so what do I care if it is! Our politicians at work. Biggest nerds and wuzzies on the planet.
Dec 14, 2012 7:53PM

I'm moving to Seattle next thursday (12/221/12) and my neighbor is moving there in january, 2013.

Everything takes time.  I think you worte this article too soon.

Dec 13, 2012 8:24PM

I would not care if the pot heads smoked themselves to death, as long as they do not smoke in my air space. My problem is you can not keep the smokers out of  non smoking area in the casino, so how in the hell are you going to control these pot heads in a casino. I know pot will not be allowed in public, but once it is legal people really do not care, they will be smoking pot in casinoes in the non smoking area and the casinoes will not say anything to them, just like the casinoes do not say anything to people smoking in the non smoking area. It is all about money.

Dec 13, 2012 6:57PM
we can't get a republican or a democrat to agree on fical cliff issues ........ it will be another 3 years before they make up there feeble minds on weed!
Dec 12, 2012 12:07PM
What I don't get is the states it is legal in, can't the people who can legally buy it and bring it to the states it is still illegal and sell to dealers? It would just make marijuana more accessible regardless. They just need to legalize it all the way.
Dec 12, 2012 11:55AM

I like how the media still terms marijuana enthusiast as "POT-Heads", but the "Gay" community is no longer called "QUEERS" or "Fagots"....just sayin !!   alot of "Gays" in the media and journalism these days....they were all happy and GAY about their marriage rights and were never name called openly.
Dec 12, 2012 11:40AM
funny, they skip over massachusetts where it's been decriminalized for the public and also passed for medical use so no matter if you are using medically or recreationally Massachusetts has you a disabled veteran whose past 5 psych medications all had side-effects of anger, now I can get alleviation from my pain with a little side-effect of perma-grinn, who would you rather speak to an angry veteran mad at the world (shoot first ask questions later )..or..the nice guy who's always smiling....????
Dec 11, 2012 1:53PM
no one  will flock anywhere, it's not legal but they are smoking it where they live
Dec 11, 2012 11:41AM
You will see a lot of people moving to Washington and Colorado.
Dec 10, 2012 10:00PM
Did people actually think that Americans would travel all the way to Washington or Colorado to buy pot when it is so easy to get in other states as well? Even in the other states where it is still illegal, you can get it with just a couple of phone calls and police don't usually care if you just have a small amount. Weed is practically legal anyways and so it is time to make it officially legal everywhere and end this ridiculously costly War on Personal Freedom.
Dec 7, 2012 12:32AM
Why Can't I be younger and no Cancer of the throat :(
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