Cannabis is a billion-dollar business in the US. As of writing, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Needless to say, residents from non-legal states who want to try cannabis are making travel plans to recreation-friendly states.
In fact, cannabis tourism is a booming market, especially for out-of-state residents who want to consume cannabis in a legal environment. But this growing industry still has a problem: for out-of-towners, there are few places where they can legally smoke.
Under most laws, cannabis can’t be smoked in public. Users have to go to a private residence if they want to smoke. But since most tourists stay in smoke-free hotels and Airbnbs, many resorts to illegally smoking in their car or in national forests.
This is a tremendous problem for cannabis tourism. Fortunately, several states have found a new solution to the problem: create cannabis-friendly public spaces.
Alaska is the first to pass statewide legislation approving public cannabis consumption. Of course, there will be plenty of rules and regulations about this, like requiring separate entries, walls, and ventilation systems.
The law approves smoking in approved public places, like cafes, as well as onsite smoking at dispensaries. But dispensaries shouldn’t celebrate too quickly—the state requires a separate license approving onsite consumption. The license alone costs thousands of dollars, and the state isn’t handing out very many of them right now. Even when a business gets a consumption license, they’ll likely have to spend thousands on renovations to fit state rules.
Although there are some financial barriers, we’re beginning to see the growth of onsite cannabis consumption. For example, West Hollywood, California just opened a new cannabis cafe, featuring infused menu items and a separate area just for smoking.
Rigid consumption laws have limited tourists’ cannabis experience to smoke-free edibles—or illicit consumption in public areas. In the future, we predict more businesses will permit public consumption, moving cannabis out of private backyards and into accessible, modern spaces. These laws are catching up to the demands of both tourists and locals, contributing to the boom of the cannabis industry.
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