People love to travel. And people love marijuana. Yet, despite increased access to legal marijuana both in the United States and abroad, pot-loving tourists often struggle to find places to toke while they take in the sights. So why is it so hard to find marijuana friendly hotels?
In the past five years, eight U.S. states have voted to legalize recreational marijuana use. Those states are home to popular tourist destinations like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, and Boston. (Washington, D.C., has voted to legalize it, as well.)
The current situation in Nevada is typical of the other states on the list. While tourists in Nevada are welcome to purchase pot, they aren’t permitted to smoke it anywhere other than their private residences. Since tourist folks are only visiting the state — and don’t have homes there — they find themselves in a bit of a cannabis consumption conundrum.
Despite the fact that tourists can (and do) buy a lot of marijuana in Las Vegas, they can’t smoke it there. They can’t smoke it in hotels. They can’t smoke it in rental cars. Casinos won’t allow them to smoke it because the substance is still illegal as the federal level, and they’d risk losing their gambling licenses. And lighting up on the street can result in a $600 fine.
Given all that, what do tourists do? Well, as NPR reports, some buy edibles or dabble in scentless vaping pens. Others take their purchases back home with them. Some just decide to take their chances and break the law.
It’s difficult to find marijuana friendly hotels while you travel because local travel bureaus and other promoters are hesitant to even mention — let alone promote — marijuana tourism. As Travel Weekly points out, many bureaus are partially funded by the federal government, which, again, still bans legal marijuana sales.
Pot tourism also conflicts with the corporate cultures of many hotel chains. Even hotels in Denver and Seattle — cities with the longest histories of pot-friendliness in the nation — rarely promote rooms that can be used for pot smoking or publicize whether they allow guests to smoke on site.
Also affecting cannabis tourism is the fact that cannabis is illegal to consume in any public place in the nation, plus the fact that all cannabis sales have to be done in cash because banks won’t do business with the pot industry because — you guessed it — it’s still illegal at the federal level. Also complicating things is the fact that nobody is quite sure which direction federal marijuana law will take under President Trump’s notoriously prohibitionist attorney general, Jeff Sessions.
But, good news! The smoke is beginning to clear a little bit around marijuana friendly hotels:
- Though none have opened yet, voters in Denver approved a plan for social consumption lounges — “Amsterdam-like places where people can smoke, eat, vape or otherwise ingest marijuana without breaking state law,” as one industry expert describes them. (A similar bill was proposed, but failed, in Nevada in the last legislative session.)
- Several members of the Oregon Legislature sought to create “cannabis cafes” and bed and breakfast-type “cannabis hotels,” though they saw two bills rejected by the state’s anti-smoking crowd, who cited Oregon’s “Indoor Clean Air Act.” “They see ‘smoke is smoke is smoke,’” laments Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer.
- A company called American Green is buying a deserted California mining town, and plans to create the country’s first pot-themed resort town. While the company has yet to face any major legal hurdles, it’s also revealed few details about the planned development.
While these near victories might be frustrating, thankfully you don’t have to wait for bills to pass or building projects to be completed in order to plan your next pot-themed trip. You just need to do a little digging.
While not an official filter on Airbnb, you can find a handful a cannabis-friendly listings if you do a quick Google search of the city you plan to visit. Also, sites like The Travel Joint and Bud and Breakfast maintain up-to-date databases of 420-friendly destinations.
Would you like to browse a short list of some of the best? Check out this list of marijuana friendly hotels and other lodging options put together by the fine folks at Leafly.