DENVER (CIRCA) — Tourists from all over the country are jumping on party buses to ride Colorado's pot trail — and get baked. But if you’re crossing state lines for legal weed, you need to know a few things to avoid the nasty legal fine print.
Colorado has effectively become home to America's first pot trail.
Ever since the state legalized pot in 2012, it has seen a surge in tourism, with people coming from all over the country to get a taste of the cannabis scene.
"We have everything from your 22-year-old stoner, to your 80-year-old grandma, to your CEO, to ex-NFL players and everything else in between."
"It's kind of blown my mind, you know, I mean, besides this being kind of like a dream the first couple days, is all the different people that we've met," a visitor getting off a My 420 Tours pot party bus told the company of his experience in Denver -- the Mile High City.
Tourists come to check out grow facilities to see how marijuana plants are grown. They take in the smells of the hundreds of strands dispensaries offer. They learn to roll a joint at a class that pairs sushi with cannabis.
There are experiences for all budgets and all ages -- or at least those 21 and older.
"We have everything from your 22-year-old stoner, to your 80-year-old grandma, to your CEO, to ex-NFL players and everything else in between," JJ Walker, CEO of My 420 Tours, told Circa.
In 2015, among travelers to Colorado 25 and older, 23 percent said legal weed played a positive role in their decision to visit.
But unlike, say, California's wine country, in Colorado and the other states (and the District of Columbia) where adult use is legal, restrictions exist that could limit how big pot tourism grows.
From unclear government regulations to pot's inherent image problem, pot tourism businesses say these things have held them back.
“Your hurdles are the people that are ignorant -- people that have never actually utilized the product and realized what the benefits are," said Joel Schneider, co-owner of the Bud + Breakfast.
Schneider and his wife Lisa run the Bud + Breakfast. Business is booming for the bed-and-breakfast, which should be a good sign for the future of pot hospitality. But hazy pot laws have caused Schneider problems, like getting fined for letting guests share pot (which they can't do any longer) and having to find an out-of-state processor to do their banking.
"You're taking people and you're bringing them to a state with the idea that they can come here and use a certain substance," said Freddie Wyatt, president of Munch and Co. "But we're not giving anybody a safe haven to go use the product."
Munch and Co. helps put on cannabis festivals and parties that draw in tourists from around the globe.
"The idea for cannabis hospitality is basically giving them a place where it's safe to use the substance. It's the most basic idea," Wyatt said.
"Being a hospitality type of business, but still being related to marijuana ... we can't buy Google ads," My 420 Tours' Walker said. "The State of Colorado Tourism Association, they don’t want to recognize us. We don't have access to any of that, people have to find us."
For cannabis hospitality to exist, cannabis tourism must also exist.
Once you do that, "the sky's the limit," Munch and Co.'s Wyatt said.
So, what does the future of marijuana hospitality and tourism look like? Bud + Breakfast's Schneider is betting on small businesses to drive it forward.
"It's for small entrepreneurs like myself to provide this kind of environment. Tourism's gonna be big. It is big already," he said.