Colorado’s ‘High Country’ Takes on New Meaning

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Some are saying that marijuana tourism could rival the state’s multi-billion dollar ski and snowboard industry.

Voters in Colorado and Washington passed ballot initiatives in 2012 legalizing recreational usage of marijuana, and starting on January 1, 2014, specialty pot shops are expected to open in Colorado. Marijuana tour operators started popping up in Colorado last spring, when the Denver Post and others noted the launch of My 420 Tours, “America’s First Legal Marijuana Tourism Company,” named to commemorate April 20 (4/20), which has come to be known as “weed day” among pot smokers.

USA Today recently highlighted several other in-state marijuana tour companies, which often plan on combining pot-themed trips with visits to Colorado’s famed ski resorts. The price of a tour typically includes a limo and driver, and snacks, soda, and marijuana are given away free because the company is not a legal pot dispensary. “What I’m getting are a lot of old stoners, and a lot of wealthy people who want to come do it safely with a concierge,” said Timothy Vee, owner of Colorado High Life Tours. “Now the kids are gone, they’re 60 years old and they want to get high.”

Another pot-themed tour operation, Colorado Green Tours, began suggesting customized “Cannabis Apres-Ski” tour packages at the start of the ski season.

How big could marijuana tourism become in the Colorado Rockies? “We think it could rival skiing,” Chris Walsh, editor of Marijuana Business Daily, told the Vail Daily. “Not next year or the year after, but down the road.”

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While many considering Colorado to offer the best skiing in the world at resorts such as Vail, the unprecedented combination of legal marijuana and top-notch powder gives extra reason for tourists to pick Colorado over other ski destinations. “The Colorado skiing industry is competing with resorts from all over the country and world,” said Walsh. “This could set Colorado’s skiing industry apart from its competitors in places like Utah and California.”

For the time being, however, it looks like sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado will be hampered because there’s just not enough pot to meet the expected demand come the start of 2014. More than 100 stores have applied to become legal marijuana dispensaries, but it’s been estimate that come January 1, only about a dozen will be operational in Denver, the state’s largest city.

Marijuana Business Daily has reported that state laws have made it difficult, if not impossible, for pot growers to ramp up production until January. It could take several months for supplies to catch up with demand, and during the interim the marketplace may be chaotic:

“While demand is expected to soar, supply will be roughly the same over the next few months. That imbalance could create a host of problems, from operational issues to empty shelves. Retail stores might have to actually turn away customers or temporary close to rebuild inventory. And prices could fluctuate significantly.”

Meanwhile, some ski towns worry that the influx of marijuana tourism could hurt, rather than help, local businesses and the family-friendly atmosphere. In an NPR segment, one waiter at a popular restaurant in Vail, which has thus far banned sales of recreational and medicinal marijuana, said he thought the rise of pot tourism could be a turn-off for many visitors. “This town is driven on a high-class clientele that come out here with their families, for a family vacation and the family experience.”

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Colorado Ski Country USA, the industry’s trade association in the state, is also downplaying, if not discouraging, the concept of ski-pot tourism. “We’re getting the word out that we have a lot of things to offer guests, but smoking marijuana is not one of them,” Colorado Ski Country USA’s Jennifer Rudolph told the Associated Press. “We have so much to offer our guests that outweigh the legality of possession of marijuana.”

As early as last January, the Vail Daily was reporting that there was a buzz on the streets of Vail, with tourists regularly inquiring about the possibility of smoking marijuana legally. But there are plenty of misconceptions about the marijuana business in Colorado. The biggest one is probably that towns will suddenly be overrun with people smoking weed; in fact, it’s only legal to smoke in private places, and only for adults ages 21 and up. “The bottom line is guests should not expect to smoke marijuana in public at a ski resort,” said Colorado Ski Country’s Rudolph.

11 comments
MichaelEymer
MichaelEymer

Another tour company not mentioned is www.coloradocannabistours.com. They offer a limo tour of Denver for only $120! If you're thinking of visiting Colorado for their marijuana, than they're worth checking out!

MaxwellPomeroySr.
MaxwellPomeroySr.

With the decline of the middle class, some families are not going to be able to afford that once in a lifetime ski trip. They might send the kids to grandma's house and take a tokecation instead though. Colorado wins.

giosbiz
giosbiz

The tour companies charge for the limo and snacks, etc., but give away the pot.   It reminds me of an joke I read once where an alcohol establishment tried to get around the blue laws on Sundays by charging an exorbitant price for peanuts and giving the beer away for free.  So, a Scotsman stops in, has several glasses of beer and then says, "I'll no have any peanuts today; they are too expensive."

DanMajam
DanMajam

“The bottom line is guests should not expect to smoke marijuana in public at a ski resort..."

If you want to do that, just come ski in New Mexico. Getting smoked out on the Santa Fe chairlift is routine.

malcolmkyle16
malcolmkyle16

Prohibition has diverted police resources away from other law enforcement activities with the result that violent crime and crime against property is driven far higher than it would have been otherwise. To the extent that communities divert law enforcement resources from violent crimes to illegal drug offenses the risk of punishment for engaging in violent crime is reduced.


The National Firearms Act of 1934 was actually a direct response to the acute rise in prohibition (1919-33) engendered gun violence.


PROHIBITION EQUATES TO MORE VIOLENT CRIME WHICH LEADS TO MORE CALLS FOR GUN CONTROL


The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada reviewed 15 studies that evaluated the association between violence and drug law enforcement. "Our findings suggest that increasing drug law enforcement is unlikely to reduce drug market violence. Instead, the existing evidence base suggests that gun violence and high homicide rates may be an inevitable consequence of drug prohibition and that disrupting drug markets can paradoxically increase violence.

Paulpot
Paulpot

It's funny that tourist business' are worried about marijuana when they have little problem with serving alcohol.

Alcohol causes schizophrenia and psychotic, violent outburts. 

Marijuana consumers are far better behaved. 

When everyone works that out, they will all want to have marijuana at their establishments.

Pot for Peace.


giosbiz
giosbiz

@malcolmkyle16 makes perfec† sense.  Drug dealers are in it for the $$$, not the shootings.  

SoMileHigh
SoMileHigh

@Paulpot I totally agree. my companies mission is to create tourism that educates and is an example of what Colorado business can be.