Nine states have some sort of marijuana question on the ballot. With MA, CA, and Florida having referendum questions on their ballots, a significant population of the US will have a say about some aspect of marijuana use in their states. I haven't researched them all, or feel like sharing how I'll vote in my state, but I thought I'd share our travel experience in one state with legal medical and recreational use. Here is our Colorado Trip report from a year ago.
While the purpose of our trip wasn't marijuana tourism related, what effect did legalization have on our visit to Colorado? Not much! Here are my thoughts about our experience and some information we learned while we were there from the local people.
So during our walk about we saw a few shops with the green crosses. These shops sell either medical marijuana or both medical and recreational. The experience is more like visiting a pharmacy, than a liquor store. After showing identification to ensure customers are at least 21 years of age. The clerks ask customers what their needs are and explains products. The products are all made to specific standards and come packaged and sealed. The clerks (they call themselves bud masters!) also share information about the laws in Colorado. We interviewed clerks and learned that there is no public consumption allowed, no purchases by anyone under 21, no driving under the influence is allowed, and "open container" laws apply to open packages of marijuana in vehicles as they do with alcohol. Lastly, it is illegal to bring regulated legal products bought in Colorado out of state (whether by personal vehicle or air- both of which are covered by other federal and state laws.)
So that's how it works where it's legal. But the question I had was how does legalization affect tourism for people who are visiting for other purposes? Well, we were pleasantly surprised to find that post legalization the state has not been pitched into debauchery! The laws I mention (and please research these yourself if you plan to partake...things change all the time and I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on the internet!) are very well enforced. We not only didn't encounter anyone smoking marijuana in public, we rarely saw anyone smoking a cigarette in public! We didn't see public intoxication beyond the hard to treat homeless population that we encounter in most American cities we visit. We didn't notice that tourists were there principally to partake and we didn't notice any kind of "wild" atmosphere (although I'm sure there are plenty of clubs and places to let loose that we didn't visit.
We also interviewed locals we met and our Uber drivers who drove us past several old warehouses that are now re-purposed into grow houses. Denverites generally seemed to think legalization has been a boon to their economy, both in the jobs due to production of marijuana, but also in the attraction of other nimble, new businesses that depend on attracting young people to the area. There is a feeling that if (or when) other places in the country legalize marijuana that Colorado is well suited to be a leader in the industry. There is concern that this "boom" is driving up housing prices, but generally, people feel the economy is benefited by legalization and they feel not much else has changed about the place where they live and work. That was our experience as visitors too; outside of sighting an occasional pot leaf tee shirt for sale in a tourist gift shop, marijuana being legal in Colorado had little impact on our experience as tourists.