Friday, March 31, 2023

Cannabis tourism: how a new travel trend rises

Legal cannabis use increased in the US and Europe during the COVID pandemic, with some people turning to marijuana to help them deal with restrictions and broken routines. Meanwhile, fewer people today consider the drug to be harmful compared to previous decades.

These factors may have contributed to a trend toward marijuana-related tourism, with destinations developing new holiday products to attract customers, and increasing travel bookings to destinations where cannabis is legal. But there are risks for both destinations and tourists to embrace this trend.

Work by MMGY Travel Intelligence found 29% of leisure travelers are interested in cannabis-related tourism. A study by the Dutch government revealed that 58% of international tourists choose Amsterdam to use drugs. And business in Dutch coffee shops has increased since the beginning of the pandemic.

Nine months after Illinois legalized recreational cannabis in January 2020, nearly 30% of purchases were by non-residents. Thailand has just announced that it has legalized cannabis and hopes it will promote tourism.

The tourism sector and specific destinations responded quickly to the demand for cannabis, hemp and CBD related products by designing experiences that include those elements. They also respond to the expected economic potential associated with increased hotel occupancy, tax revenues, increased land values, business expansion, jobs and public health and safety benefits that can be linked to marijuana sales.

Tourists Outside A Restaurant In A Thai Street In The Evening.
Tourism in Thailand expects to get a boost from cannabis legalization.

Although tourism to other destinations with legalized cannabis is increasing in popularity, data is only beginning to be collected. And so far no destination is ready to be marked as the “next Amsterdam”.

Great potential

While marijuana-related travelers are believed to spend high and be well-educated, authorities do not want to repeat the Dutch model, which has led to massive concentration of marijuana coffee shops in Amsterdam and raised concerns about the use of hard drugs and crime.

New business models focus on agri-tourism (meet-the-farmer sessions) and culinary tourism and events such as dagga festivals. Tourists can choose from farm tours, “bud and breakfast” hotels, city tours, marijuana parties, marijuana trails, food, wine and marijuana pairings, “ganja yoga”, and packages that combine accommodation and marijuana experiences.

The potential for cannabis tourism is widespread throughout the world. More than 19 U.S. states and Washington DC have now legalized recreational dating, along with Canada, Mexico, Uruguay and others. In Europe, Luxembourg allows the consumption of personally grown marijuana, while Switzerland tests cannabis sales from pharmacies for recreational purposes.

Malaysia and Thailand have taken initial steps to legalize recreational use. Costa Rica and Morocco have also approved legalization for medicinal purposes.

Risks for tourists

Few countries, however, have clarified the legality of marijuana use by tourists with legislation aimed at recreational use by residents. This means that tourists run the risk of unintentionally violating the law through interaction with street vendors and police, as well as the health implications of using rights and counterfeit drugs.

There is evidence that cannabis can improve some mental health conditions and provide pain relief. But tourists with pre-existing mental health disorders, for example, can endanger their physical and psychological well-being. Cannabis-related mental health events, including depression, can also occur among those who have not been diagnosed with mental health issues.

A patchwork of complicated laws and regulations regarding recreational use of marijuana by overseas tourists means that questions remain about the legality of consumption, the transportation of marijuana vape pens overseas as well as issues of insurance coverage and healthcare, during and after travel.

While Uruguay plans to allow consumption by tourists, countries such as Portugal, where marijuana has been decriminalized since 2001, still do not allow it to be bought legally. In Spain, cannabis clubs allow visitors to donate to the club instead of buying a product. But Spain and other major markets such as South Africa are focused on domestic marijuana tourism rather than international visitors.

Read more: Marijuana: 4 essential readings on the uses, effects and potential of marijuana

Few countries have conducted a cost-benefit analysis on legal marijuana and tourism, or fully discussed land and water use issues, police powers and benefits to local communities. While dagga tourism can generate tourism and employment and reduce the power of organized crime, the goal of sustainable development is threatened by theft, racism and a market against small local operators who often cannot secure financing or insurance. There are also possible increases in pollution and concerns about public health and safety.

Mexico and Canada have pledged funding for privately owned businesses to help social and racial equality, while New York plans to create a US $ 200 million (£ 162 million) public-private fund to support social equity goals. Resident support and ongoing discussions with communities on how to plan for the sustainable development of dagga tourism should be an important part of the development of the sector.

Although it appears that the COVID pandemic has helped to stimulate and legitimize the use of marijuana, with pharmacies being declared an essential service in parts of the US during the pandemic, tourism may expand its acceptance and use normalize.

Perceived risks may fade and tourist debt may disappear. Cannabis tourism is likely to become just another segment of the holiday industry.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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