Wine tours, chocolate tastings and marijuana vacations? If Matt Brown and James Walker have their say, Colorado could soon become the Napa Valley of marijuana tourism, making pot tastings and pot travel packages the norm.
The two friends, who worked in medical marijuana for years, began finalizing plans for the first marijuana tourism company – My 420 Tours – after Colorado voted to legalize pot via Amendment 64 in November. They’ve now launched their first major travel package around World Cannabis Week, which is sold out and culminates with April 20 festivities. April 20, or 4-20, is a popular pot-themed day of celebration.
Tickets, which sold out last week, range from $499 to $849 for a three-day or five-day VIP experience. The package includes accommodations, cooking classes, happy hours, workshops, and entrance to a number of concerts and parties, such as the High Times Cannabis Cup. Those normal travel package activities will just happen to include marijuana.
“People are going to show up and have the type of vacation they want to have and it’ll be with marijuana,” said Brown.
Brown and Walker aren’t the only ones hoping to make Colorado the marijuana capital of the U.S. A number of events, entry to which is included in the tour packages, are being put on by other promoters and companies, including a concert with Slightly Stoopid and Cypress Hill. And, High Times is sponsoring the Cannabis Cup, which is being held in the U.S. for the first time. The cup typically takes place in Amsterdam.
Because retail marijuana operations won’t open in Colorado until 2014, it continues to be against state law to buy (non-medical) marijuana. But Brown and Walker say they’re being careful that everything they’re doing is legal and above board. The company is not offering any marijuana in exchange for purchasing a ticket but is simply providing people entrance to events, such as cooking classes, where marijuana will be available.
“We’re not here to give the cannabis tourism industry a bad name. It’s modeled after wine tours and the like,” said Brown.
There has been some criticism of the tours and the Colorado Tourism Office has said it won’t offer any support or marketing. And of course, whatever Colorado says, marijuana is still illegal according to the federal government.
But Brown believes the tours will simply be like any other vacation. The packages will provide access to marijuana and attract a clientele interested in learning about pot “without becoming some Cheech and Chong fest,” he said. In the future, the duo hopes to put on a couple major travel packages a year and do smaller weekend getaways for groups.
With nearly 10 percent of adults saying they smoke pot once a year, said Brown, marijuana tourism could become a huge industry and Colorado is poised to be at the center of that growth, since it’s losing much of its stigma. “Marijuana is a very boring topic here,” he joked.