Hash maker Garrett Pearson demonstrates how shatter hash is smoked. He uses a high-pressure lab oven for heating after using “BHO” butane hash oil extraction. My 420 Tours plans to have a hash class as part of its 4/20 vacation package. (Joe Amon, The Denver Post)
Two Denver entrepreneurs with ties to the medical-marijuana industry have started the nation’s first marijuana tourism company. For several hundred bucks — prices vary between VIP and economy levels — My 420 Tours will pick visitors up at the airport, connect them to a pot-friendly hotel, set up hash-making demonstrations and dispensary-grow tours, and provide them with tickets to cannabis-themed events and concerts. The company’s first package is built around April 20, a date cannabis enthusiasts regard as a holiday known as 4/20.
The tour company is pitching the collection of concerts, conventions and parties surrounding 4/20 in Denver as World Cannabis Week.
“If somebody flies out here,” said James Walker, one of the company’s owners, “we take care of the whole adventure for them.”
Well, not quite.
Because marijuana sales to non-medical-marijuana patients are still illegal for at least a few more months in Colorado, Walker and his business partner, Matt Brown, won’t actually be giving pot to pot tourists. Instead, the men say they will help clients gain access to events — such as the High Times Cannabis Cup — where marijuana is likely to be shared freely and, they contend, legally.
The tour company is the first to take advantage of Amendment 64, which legalized use and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for anybody over 21 in the state — whether they reside here or not.
“So far, we haven’t heard any feedback from someone saying, ‘No, no, we don’t want you to do this,’ ” Brown said.
But that doesn’t mean everybody’s enthusiastic about the new tourism industry.
Al White, the director of the Colorado Tourism Office, said Walker reached out to him to
Satter hash, packaged for labeling, was made using “BHO” butane hash oil extraction.
talk about the marijuana-tourism venture. White told Walker the tourism office wouldn’t provide any marketing assistance.
“There’s way too much to see and do in Colorado to use marijuana tourism as a platform for marketing our state,” White said in an interview.
Visitors to Colorado spent $9.4 billion in the state in 2011, according to a tourism office report, and “touring” and outdoor trips were the most popular reasons for visiting the state. Even before the election, tourism officials condemned marijuana legalization and pre-emptively warned potential pot tourists that marijuana use remains against federal law.
“Colorado’s brand will be damaged, and we may attract fewer conventions and see a decline in leisure travel,” Visit Denver president Richard Scharf said in a statement before the election.
Although White said he appreciates Walker and Brown’s “entrepreneurial spirit,” he said tourism leaders continue to believe marijuana tourism could hurt Colorado’s image, which relies heavily on healthy, family-friendly outdoor activities.
“Legalized marijuana promotes just the opposite,” White said.
But Brown points out that April is typically among Colorado’s slowest tourism months, and the 2011 report found that visits to cities in the state declined that year. Brown believes 4/20 travel could help fill a vacation dead spot.
If marijuana tourism takes off in Colorado — and it might, after a state task force recommended allowing out-of-state visitors to be able to shop in forthcoming recreational marijuana stores — it could be a lucrative business. Medical Marijuana Business Daily, a trade publication for the cannabis industry, suggested in an article that marijuana tourism could rival the multibillion dollar ski tourism industry in Colorado.
“The possibilities are endless in such a scenario, as visitors from all over the country — and possibly from all over the world — would flock to the state specifically to purchase and use marijuana,” the publication wrote.
Christian Sederberg, one of Amendment 64′s authors, said creating a marijuana-tourism industry wasn’t the goal of the measure’s proponents. But, he said, marijuana legalization is likely to spin off all sorts of side businesses.
“It sounds like a lot of other things that go on in Colorado,” Sederberg said when told of the tourism company. “This one happens to be marijuana-related.”
Walker, who used to own a dispensary, and Brown, a former medical-marijuana industry advocate, said they see their business as akin to wine-country tours. They say it could also be expanded beyond just marijuana enthusiasts.
They could set up programs for government officials in other states wanting to learn more about marijuana regulations or prospective business owners seeking ideas about how the industry works. They could organize visits about medical marijuana for people who live in states that don’t authorize it.
Brown said about 160 people have signed up for the 4/20 tour so far. Succeed or fail, this April will mark a new era for Colorado.
“Whatever happens,” Brown said, “this will be one to remember and say, ‘I was there.’ “
Read more: Colorado marijuana tourism company launches after pot legalization – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_22908874/colorado-marijuana-tourism-company-launches-after-pot-legalization#ixzz2QGfcs990
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