This Is Going To Change The Cannabis Industry
August 18,2018 | By Nick Kovacevich from Forbes
In May, women of all ages and occupations gathered south of San Francisco for a weekend of yoga, educational classes, spa treatments — and unlimited cannabis in every form imaginable, including smoothies, body creams and vapes. The so-called “cannabis tourists” came from all over the world to experience a Ganja Goddess Getaway, a wellness retreat designed for women who already love cannabis, as well as those who want a safe space to try it for the first time.
“Cannabis attracts everyone, from lawyers to truckers,” says co-founder Deidra Bagdasarian, who also created Bliss Edibles, now one of the premier cannabis confectioneries in the U.S. There’s been so much interest in her “glamp-out” cannabis weekends that she’s expanding across the country this year and overseas in 2019.
Bagdasarian isn’t alone. Cannabis tourism is growing at a fast clip, drawing thousands of people — and millions of dollars — to states where adult use of cannabis is legal. In Colorado alone, cannabis tourism has grown 51% since 2014, according to a report from the state’s department of revenue. The Colorado DOR said the state attracted some 6.5 million cannabis tourists in 2016, the most recent figures available. It estimates that number will have grown by at least 6% in 2017 and will match or exceed that figure this year. The report said those 6.5 million tourists logged nearly 18 million cannabis-use days in 2016, a clear demonstration of how the state racked up more than $5.2 billion in marijuana sales since it legalized cannabis in January 2014.
Meanwhile in California, “wine and weed” tours are becoming increasingly more popular. Party buses, with the driver sealed off from smoking passengers, tour wineries and dispensaries, allowing tourists to sample the various products on offer. Like Ganja Goddess, the tours, which cater to food and wine enthusiasts, attract both experienced marijuana users and newbies. Across the country there are also “puff and paint” events, featuring cannabis tastings, wine and the chance to paint your own masterpiece. One tour company plays on the mystique of cannabis, offering tours “behind the curtain” of the legal marijuana industry in six states, along with some sampling along the way. Major newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle now feature travel-section stories detailing the “five best places for marijuana tourism,” highlighting luxury cannabis getaways and DIY holidays.
But like the rest of the cannabis industry, tourism has a banking problem. Because cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, banks generally refuse to do business with the industry, making cash the only option. This also means there are all sorts of hurdles and hoops that tour organizers must navigate, such as finding a place where tourists can consume cannabis — even in states where it’s legal. Earlier this year, Denver started requiring cannabis tour operators to apply for special licenses to consume cannabis in public places, a move widely seen as an effort to curb cannabis tourism.