A Budding Marijuana Tourism Industry Moves North

Canada prepares for rapid growth in marijuana tourism just six months away from implementing a nationwide, legal cannabis industry.  

As provinces slowly roll out their implementation plans, Canadian professionals have yet to come up with an estimate on the overall impact of marijuana tourism. According to Delloite, the entire Canadian industry will be worth 23 billion dollars. However, impact via sub-sectors is not specified in the report. This lack of clarity surrounding tourism data has certainly not stopped the dreamers from dreaming. Canadian firms are envisioning winery-style grow op tours and weed-and-yoga retreats. Americans are also looking to get in on the “Green Rush.”

According to Michael Eymer, Chief Executive of Colorado Cannabis Tours, British Columbia can secure the lions share of marijuana tourism by leveraging its reputation as a centre for cannabis culture. Eymer is already pursuing grow-op tours to cruise-ship passengers arriving in Vancouver. He notes,

“A nation legalizes and the world pays attention…”

The Canadian Approach to Marijuana Tourism

And he’s not wrong. British Columbia is a mecca for Cannabis culture worldwide. Now Vancouver is looking to capitalize on tourists travelling north of the border. Currently, there are only a handful of smoking lounges in the city. Workers at one of the locations, Vancity Bulldog Cafe, explain that travelling cruise passengers are still their biggest customers during the summer. Enthusiasts believe other establishments will open and provide more opportunities to achieve economic gains through marijuana tourism after legalization.

Marc Emery, the proclaimed Prince of Pot, native of B.C. and original advocate of marijuana tourism, lights up in front of the Vancouver Police Department. Emery was extradited to the U.S. in 2009 to serve a five-year trafficking sentence.
Marc Emery, native of B.C. lights up in front of the Vancouver Police Department. Emery was extradited to the U.S. in 2009 to serve a five-year trafficking sentence. Via The Vancouver Sun

Alberta is pursuing a different approach to marijuana tourism. The province is proposing a law to allow marijuana consumption in hotel rooms where tobacco is already permitted. The bill is still in its early stages, but many organizations already see the potential opportunity. David Kai, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel & Lodging association recognizes that “a lot of hotels might be interested” and states,

“If there’s a potential market there that we could provide, it could be important for tourism and we would be interested in those opportunities.”

Marijuana tourism is a new industry in Canada, but thrives elsewhere. Tourists regularly enjoy the grey laws surrounding recreational cannabis use in Amsterdam. Roughly one in four tourists to Amsterdam intends to visit a coffeeshop. In addition, officials expect visitors to rise from 17 million to 23 million in the coming years. They even implement a higher tax on tourists within the city to mitigate the influx.

As Canada blazes a trail into legalization, the country must look elsewhere for sustainable tourism models. Amsterdam’s drug-tourism policy is not without its flaws, but it certainly provides an an opportunity for analysis. Especially for a country looking to be a world leader in Marijuana Tourism.