Updated on June 25, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
MarketWatch reports that travel site searches for Denver vacations increased nearly 75 percent in the year after the state legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Washington and Oregon saw similar search increases after it was legalized there as well.
What does that tell you?
Well, one thing businesses and state governments know is legalizing pot can bring in tourism revenues to local communities. This includes hotels, restaurants and other businesses that service the tourism industries, such as linen and food services.
Among younger travelers to Colorado, weed is said to have had a much bigger impact on their desire to visit, with as many as 33 percent of travelers between the ages of 25 and 34 suggesting the ability to legally use pot was one reason they chose Colorado as their vacation destinations.
Of course, not everyone interested in marijuana is interested in its recreational use. Some have more medicinal needs to consider instead. This marijuana travel guide is poised to help you learn a few key points about traveling with marijuana and to destinations where cannabis may be a perk for your travel endeavors.
Traveling With Medical Marijuana
For people who use medicinal marijuana the question, “Can I take my medical marijuana on vacation?,” is one that comes up frequently because you can’t always get it where you’re going. Even if it’s allowed in one state, it depends on the laws of the states where you are going — and the states you are traveling through — as to whether or not it is wise to bring along with you.
In the United States, you should know that even though recreational and medical marijuana use is now legal in some states, it is still in violation of federal law. Since the Transportation Security Agency, which oversees air, rail and bus travel in this country, is a federal government agency, it’s not wise to bring even medically prescribed marijuana with you if you plan to fly, take a bus or ride the rails on your vacation within the country.
That said, if you are traveling to one of the states that allows recreational or medical marijuana, you could bring your prescription if that state recognizes out-of-state medical marijuana cards. And if you travel to states that allow the recreational use of marijuana, you should be able to find what you need during your stay.
One option is to embrace marijuana tourism by choosing locations where the use of recreational marijuana is not only lawful but accessible for tourists. This will prevent concerns over your medical marijuana needs while reducing your risks of running into jurisdictional issues related to it.
What Is Cannabis Tourism?
The term means different things to different people. For some people, it simply indicates marijuana-friendly hotels where they can enjoy the private use of marijuana without concerns of being escorted out of the building or having the police called.
For others, marijuana friendly vacations offer a little something more — whether that includes classes on how to properly use marijuana, access to cannabis-laced desserts or a complete package experience that offers something similar to wine tours and tastings, only with pot. Still others have a prescription for medical marijuana and need it to help manage pain, nausea and other health conditions while traveling. These individuals often book marijuana-friendly hotels.
For instance, Denver tourists booking a trip through 420 Tours can experience:
Craft marijuana concentrates tours
Sushi, sake, and joint-rolling classes
Greenhouse grow and dispensary tours
Budz & Sudz, grow & dispensary
Canna basics sommelier
Cooking with cannabis
All-inclusive cannabis vacations
While these types of tours appeal to many interested in cannabis tourism — and maybe yourself — other individuals simply want to have the opportunity to have access to weed in the form of their choice, often as a joint, and be able to experience it in privacy. This can be especially true for first-time or medicinal marijuana users.
Regardless of why you’re interested in a marijuana vacation, there are great packages available to travelers in the U.S. and across the globe.
Things You Should Know Before You Take Marijuana-Friendly Vacations
As exciting as it is to go on a pot-friendly vacation, there are a few things you need to understand before you head on out and land in a lot of hot water — and we’re not talking about the mineral springs kind, either. Even if you’ve taken a cannabis vacation before, it’s always wise to brush up on a few basics before lighting up.
Find Out the Local Laws
It’s important to know the rules about public and private marijuana use in the state or country you’re visiting. You also need to be aware of any limits related to how much marijuana you can have in your possession at a given time. You need to know the specific number of ounces or grams of hash, according to the local governance, that’s considered recreational — and at what point it becomes something more than recreational.
For instance, California allows people age 21 and over to possess as much as one ounce of marijuana, thanks to Proposition 64. Individuals who reside there can also grow up six pot plants in their homes.
Finally, remember that laws are constantly evolving and changing, especially when it comes to the legalities of marijuana:
Make sure you are up to date on the most recent marijuana laws in the jurisdictions you’re traveling to.
If you’re traveling as part of a marijuana travel tour or group, they’ll often go out of their way to make sure you’re aware of the legalities.
Many pot-friendly hotels also inform guests about rules, especially the ones related to their properties so their ability to continue providing this valuable service is not compromised.
Understand the Specifics About Where You Can Purchase and Use Marijuana
If you use marijuana in the wrong places, you could find yourself in legal trouble. Where can you buy weed in the city? Some states have strict laws about selling recreational marijuana, and you must be the guest of an establishment in order to receive it. This means your hotel might leave a pot-laced brownie instead of a more traditional turn-down chocolate.
Don’t Partake and Drive
While you may enjoy some heightened sensitivities while under the influence of marijuana, you might also experience delayed responsiveness and reaction times. It’s not a good mix with getting behind the wheel and likely illegal in every jurisdiction around the world where recreational marijuana use is allowed – much like driving under the influence of alcohol.
Some tours offer drivers for anywhere you need to go in the city or designated party buses for marijuana experiences. If not, there are always taxicabs, public transportation and ride services such as Uber and Lyft to consider. You may not ever need to leave your hotel or resort with some of the all-inclusive experiences available. Or you can partake in scheduled tours with transportation provided.
Less Is More
While you can buy up to one ounce in some locations, that is often far more than you really need — or will be able to consume during a typical trip. Buy the smallest amount vendors offer for sale and then get more later if needed, rather than buying more than is necessary and leaving a lot on the table at the end of your trip.
Discretion really is the better part of valor. Even though marijuana is legal in many cities, there are still regulations about where and how it can be consumed. You can still get in trouble for consuming weed in the wrong place, and that can take a bit of the buzz out of your vacation fun, literally and figuratively.
Give Edibles the Respect They Deserve
These aren’t the traditional “bake sale” pot brownies you may have tried in college. Just like sneaky calories, the THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the primary ingredient that gives the brownies their potency, can sneak up on you, giving you a much bigger return on investment than you had planned for. That’s a great thing because it means you don’t have to eat as much for the same buzz. However, it also means you’ll get much more than you bargained for if you aren’t conservative about your food choices.
One thing to keep in mind at all times is laws and attitudes about recreational marijuana use are constantly changing. Be consistent when traveling to make sure you’re up to date with the latest at every stage of your travel.
Worldwide Vacation Hot Spots for Cannabis Users
There are different locations around the world where the recreational use of marijuana is much more widely accepted than in the U.S. Some have passed laws allowing for the legal use of marijuana while others have simply decriminalized its use or typically only prosecute in certain circumstances. Again, this is why it’s so important to understand the local laws and rules concerning the use of weed before traveling to the country.
These are a few of the global destinations you may want to consider if pot plays a role in your travel plans.
Moroccan hash is the most common form of marijuana available in Barcelona, where it does remain illegal. Pot use is often overlooked by law enforcement provided you are not in a club or bar while partaking. The beaches of Barcelona are always a draw, as well as the art and history of the region.
Visitors can enjoy the sensory lift lighting up creates while also visiting some of the city’s many museums, like the Picasso Museum. While under the influence, you might find your appreciation of art is a little more intense. Barcelona also has a legendary nightlife that blends with cannabis tourism.
Considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, Amsterdam is also one with rather lax laws about pot. You can carry up to 30 grams of marijuana on your person for use indoors. Some area pubs will even allow you to light up inside. In addition to the liberal culture for weed, you will also find beautiful canal tours, historical tours and an abundance of museums, including the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank Museum.
Many people dream about a trip to an island location such as Jamaica. With the Rasta culture and mellow beach vibes, it’s a great place for anyone who wants to enjoy a little Kush while watching the sun set over the Caribbean sea.
Like many tropical vacation hot spots, Jamaica can be as cost-effective or expensive as you’d like, according to your accommodation decisions. If you intend to have room in your budget for a little grass on the side, you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of budget-friendly options available — even in paradise.
While marijuana isn’t legal yet in Jamaica, its use has been downgraded to a petty offense in many cases by the government, while medical marijuana has become more abundantly available to tourists. This means many tourists partake freely in cannabis use without fear of arrest or prosecution.
The cannabis culture is alive and thriving in Uruguay since it was legalized in 2013. You’ll find a wide range of vacation opportunities, from beachfront resorts and villas to more cost-effective apartment-style vacation spots in the city.
Each one offers many benefits and a different vacation experience. The fact that the use of cannabis in the country is fully legal makes it a great place to visit for those looking for a marijuana-related vacation ― whether you’re on the beach or in the heart of the city. You can also enjoy the nightlife, restaurants, and museums that go along with it.
Another quickie consideration is to take a trip south of the border by visiting Mexico, where you can possess up to five grams of marijuana. However, having more than the legal limit can put you in a world of trouble, as Mexico takes this particular restriction seriously.
Mexico offers some of the most beautiful beaches and easy access for many American travelers, though attempting to cross the border with marijuana in your possession is not recommended going in either direction.
U.S. Hot Spots for Marijuana Tourism
You don’t have to travel outside of the country to use marijuana anymore. Some states have recently passed laws that either decriminalize the use of marijuana or make it legal to do so within the state borders.
The recreational use of marijuana is now legal in the District of Columbia and a slew of U.S. states, including:
It’s important to reiterate this legalization is only from the perspective of state and local law enforcement. The U.S. federal government still considers marijuana illegal. For the most part, though, the federal police and law enforcement agencies aren’t going to go out of their way to hunt you down over an ounce of grass unless there is some other criminal activity or investigation going on.
Many other states have taken the step to decriminalize the use of marijuana without going the extra mile to legalize. Some have only seen fit to legalize medicinal use of marijuana and still strictly control and regulate that use.
While not all states in the U.S.A. have yet come around to the idea of decriminalizing medical or recreational marijuana use, the tides are turning, and this list will surely grow over time.
Below are a few hot U.S. cannabis destinations you might want to consider if you’re curious about marijuana or just want to use it to enhance your own vacation state of mind.
The pot law allowing for the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado has been a huge boon for the state. Not only is the use of marijuana now taxed, bringing in new revenue for the state, but also it’s bringing in massive numbers of tourists dollars and sales tax revenues for the state too, as people flock in from other states around the country to sample the goods for themselves. One survey revealed that marijuana is responsible for 50 percent of Colorado’s tourism.
There is a cottage industry cropping up to accommodate cannabis tourism in Colorado that includes chauffeured tours, bed and breakfast experiences, and more. Soon, perhaps, weederies in Colorado could be as popular as wineries in northern California or breweries in Vermont. Visitors can plan a number of cannabis-friendly getaways in the Mile High City, such as:
A ski trip
A white-water rafting trip
A spa getaway
Las Vegas, Nevada
One of the great things about Nevada is it practices reciprocity. That means if you have a medical marijuana card from another state, it will be honored in Nevada.
Now that it has become legal to use recreational marijuana in Nevada, analysts say the state will soon experience a boom that makes the Denver pot boom seem like small potatoes. Las Vegas already brought in a huge influx of partying visitors and tourists each and every day before legalizing marijuana. Now those numbers are only expected to grow as tourists have yet another way to party in Sin City.
United States Virgin Islands
If you’re interested in a vacation to a tropical paradise, it’s hard to go wrong with the United States Virgin Islands. English is the official language, the U.S. dollar is the official currency, and you still get to enjoy some of the most stunning beaches and waters the earth has to offer when you visit one or more of the three U.S. Virgin Islands:
Each island offers something beautiful, different and unique to explore, and there is always something to do, even if it’s just sinking your toes in the sand and watching the waves roll in. When it comes to traveling and cannabis, you’ll find while it is still illegal to smoke weed in USVI, it has been decriminalized on all three islands by a senate decision. Visitors possessing up to one ounce of pot will not face jail time, though they may be ticketed and fined up to $200, and their marijuana may be confiscated.
More Information About Marijuana/Cannabis Tourism
Whether you’re trying pot for the first time, partaking again after a long break or experimenting with new and different varieties of weed, any of these budding destinations in the U.S. or abroad have something unique to offer visitors. Make the most of your next vacation and consider booking a cannabis-friendly travel experience.
When you choose a vacation experience that educates you on the proper use of weed, it’s even better. Consider a travel experience or tour that offers advice and guidance rather than just access. If you have medicinal needs for marijuana, your best bet is to travel to states such as Nevada that honor the medical cards from other states.