Laura Bly, USA TODAY
Cue those "Rocky Mountain High" jokes: A Denver-based company is offering what's being billed as the nation's "first legal marijuana tour," keyed to events surrounding the cannabis-themed holiday of April 20.
Taking advantage of Colorado voters' recent passage of Amendment 64, which legalizes recreational ganja possession and use of up to one ounce for anyone 21 and older, My 420 Tours "gives you the opportunity to fly to Colorado over the April 20th cannabis holiday week and experience legal marijuana on a guided tour of events, sold out concerts, seminars, cannabis friendly hotels, bus tours, cooking classes and so much more," the company's website says. Airfare and hotel stays are extra, but organizer Matt Brown says he's sold about 170 packages that range from $499 to $849 per person.
"There's been a lot of intrigue about what's going on here in Colorado, and we want to take the sexiness out of marijuana - to show that it's not a scary, dangerous thing here," says Brown.
One major catch: Since recreational marijuana sales remain illegal for at least a few more months in Colorado, the company won't be providing pot to customers. Instead, it "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," notes the Denver Post.
"This is not about coming to Colorado to get wrecked and smoke as much pot as you can and be a degenerate stoner hippie," Brown told Denver Westword. "We've modeled World Cannabis Week as a cross between a wine tour of Napa Valley and the best concert or entertainment experience you can imagine."
Before Amendment 64's passage last November, state and local tourism officials condemned marijuana legalization and pre-emptively warned potential pot tourists that marijuana use remains against federal law.
Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, told the Post he appreciates My 420 Tours' "entrepreneurial spirit," but said tourism leaders still think marijuana tourism could hurt Colorado's healthy, family-friendly image.
But, notes the Post, a state task force recently recommended that out-of-state visitors be able to purchase limited amounts in recreational marijuana stores when they open next year. And 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.