Marijuana Tourism

Connecticut is investing $3 million in a new advertising campaign to promote tourism in our state. But here’s a theme you won’t hear mentioned…yet.

Whether you’re just taking a stroll or splashing in the surf, cannabis can add fun to your beach visit.

That was the promise of a private tourism website based on Mystic CT, VisitNewEngland.com, which talked about the beaches of Massachusetts. But the site’s flowerpot prose also describes some of our tourist haunts that can be enhanced by marijuana.

“If you’re the kind of weed smoker who likes to think deeply, meditate on space and time, you’re in luck: Connecticut is home to some of the oldest historic homes, buildings, and towns in the country.”

According to state figures, there are more than 52,000 registered medical marijuana users in Connecticut. Estimates of the number of “recreational” users are uncertain.

Cannabis possession in our state has been legal for almost a year now. Yet Connecticut is months away from legal “recreational” sales. So where do you buy it? You have to hit the road.

Marijuana is big business, estimated to be worth $40 billion nationwide by 2025. Some 35 states have legalized marijuana for medical use and 18 allow sales for recreational use. And tourism benefits from cannabis, already representing 17 billion dollars this year.

Colorado, one of the first states to legalize cannabis, saw pre-pandemic hotel reservations jump 7% and room rates climb nearly 4% when commercial sales began. In Denver, you can book a bus tour to sample marijuana “tastings” and even visit a grow facility. Some tours feature cannabis-centric restaurants with food and marijuana pairings, like fine wines.

Closer to home, there are 15 recreational marijuana dispensaries just across the border in Massachusetts from Great Barrington to Springfield.

Just off I-91 is Insa’s flagship mega-dispensary, outfitted like an upscale boutique with whimsical storefronts and leafy plantings. After tagging your weed, you are only minutes away from MGM Casino where they will host your business. Or later this summer, visit The Big E and satiate your cravings after an edible.

New Jersey just legalized recreational sales, but crossing any state line with even legal weed is still a violation of the law.

Wherever your marijuana twists take you, travel safe. Unfortunately, Amtrak is not a good alternative. Smoking is prohibited on all trains, as is carrying even legal weed. And smoking while driving is just plain stupid, even if enforcement is a problem for the police as there is, so far, no breathalyzer test for pot.

Connecticut is still months away from licensing its first adult-only recreational dispensaries. But some 22 cities have already chosen not to even allow them, passing on potentially lucrative local tax benefits. But if Connecticut marijuana users are willing to travel to Springfield, won’t they be happy to travel to a nearby town with legal sales?

When recreational cannabis sales finally arrive in Connecticut, so will tourists and the new tax revenue from cities and towns enabling such sales.

About Bobby F. Lopez

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