There was a time, not too long ago, when cannabis tourism meant a trip to Amsterdam. With the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Colorado in 2012, cannabis tourism moved a lot closer, and became more affordable and accessible.
Today, Colorado has a vibrant tourism industry surrounding cannabis, and Washington State and Oregon are gearing up to follow suit.
We know that cannabis tourism is enjoyable, but why is it IMPORTANT?
#1) Reconnecting – Learning the Basics
After nearly a century of federal prohibition, many people are downright confused about cannabis now that it has been legalized in several states. The vast product selections alone can be intimidating – extracts, oils, dabs, tinctures.
Nothing like hands-on experience to learn the basics!
Cannabis tourism is a great place for beginners, or those reconnecting with the plant, to start learning. Visiting a dispensary can be daunting for someone who has never been. In Colorado, tours provide visitors with a way to gain access, information, and a personal guide to steer your course.
Many cannabis tourism companies offer tours specific for “newbies,” (also good for “returnees”) which include a trip to a dispensary with a knowledgeable guide who can explain the differences between various products. These tours often include a trip to a grow house to learn about how the plant is cultivated in a commercial setting.
These basic tours, when done right, can alleviate a lot of anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the plant.
#2) Education – Taking it a Step Further
Cannabis education doesn’t end with a trip to a dispensary and a grow house. Today, one can take classes in cooking with cannabis, making extracts and salves, and even growing it.
Classes are an excellent way to really get your hands dirty when it comes to learning about cannabis. High Country Cannabis Tours, with whom I took a cooking class, offers (among other things) classes in rosin production and extraction, sub-lingual tinctures, infused salves, and hash oil workshops.
My cooking with cannabis class, which lasted four hours, included a lesson in kief extraction using a dry ice method. From there, we learned how to make enhanced butter using the kief, and finally used the butter to cook our finished product – a delicious and potent banana bread.
But not too potent! We also learned to estimate baseline THC and cannabinoid levels in our baked goods, as well as tips for proper dosing.
The class provided a lot more education than just cooking. Our instructor, Chef Steve, showed us a variety of different cannabis forms – oils, extracts, tinctures, wax – explained them each thoroughly, and invited us to try any that we were interested in.
Best of all, the small class provided a comfortable forum to ask any questions we had, no matter how silly, in a safe and non-judgmental environment. A class such as this can help raise your experience with this plant to the next level.
#3) Meet Compatible People – Make New Friends
Cannabis tours can be a great way to make new friends with similar interests.
Many companies now offer bus tours which whisk tourists away to dispensaries, grow houses, and glass blowing galleries, and then on to city sightseeing, dining, nightlife, or adventure. Lean back, relax, learn, and be open to new connections.
Cultivating Spirits, for example, offers a gourmet 3-course dining experience pairing food, wine and cannabis. With 10 guests per tour, it’s an easy way to meet and talk to new people who share a love of the finer things.
In Denver, visitors can take cannabis-friendly walking tours with locals who work in the field, or even take a “Canna-Beer Tour” combining cannabis with an exploration of the Colorado craft beer brewing industry. Or meet fellow foodies at a 4-hour Cannabis Foodie Tour given by My 420 Tours.
#4) Transformative Travel – Enhance Your Experience
Many cannabis tours include sights that would be included on any tour of the area – tours of Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder for example. As we know, cannabis can enrich experiences and certainly this is the case when viewing the majestic beauty of Colorado. Several companies incorporate cannabis with trips to ski areas or the Rocky Mountains for this very reason.
That enhancement can lead to better and more memorable experiences in museums, galleries, and classes as well. Taking things slower and being more observant, open, and appreciative can make a museum experience far more rewarding.
Don’t just experience art – make it as well: Colorado Cannabis Tours, for example, offers a Puff, Pass & Paint class allowing visitors a chance to get in tune with their creative side (also another great way to make new friends).
Cannabis can also heighten enjoyment of a fine meal, and there are many fine meals to be had in Colorado.
#5) End Cannabis Stigma
No one blinks an eye at the thought of a bunch of friends going to wine country for a weekend of wine tasting. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet reached the point where the same can be said about cannabis, but we are headed in that direction.
Being open about our experiences with cannabis tourism will hopefully lead to a future where traveling to sample and appreciate the plant is just as easily accepted as a wine-themed getaway.
More important, quality cannabis tourism is a vital way to de-stigmatize and change outdated mindsets.
As cannabis tourism continues to expand, and educational offerings and sightseeing options increase, cannabis use will become increasingly normalized. But for that to happen, people need to be open and unapologetic about traveling in order to learn more about and experience this plant.
Dos and Don’ts
Before planning or embarking on a trip to a cannabis tourism destination, it’s important to do your homework, so here are a few tips:
- Do your research. There are many options for cannabis tourism, with more popping up every day. Don’t just pick the first tour site you find.
- Do read reviews and vet tour companies before you book.
- Don’t try to squeeze too many activities into one day – especially if you’re new or just returning to cannabis use.
- Do ask questions of tour operators, such as how many participants are on each tour, how long the tour lasts, and where are the pick-up and drop off points.
- Do look for tours that have a smaller numbers of participants if you want more personalized attention.
- Do ask tour companies about the age ranges for each tour. Some tours skew towards younger visitors; some are good for all ages. Make sure you find one that feels comfortable for you.
- Don’t wait until the last minute. Tours fill up (especially around certain times of the year, like April 20th). Plan ahead of time to get the best selection and avoid last minute worries.
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