Mobilization and Events

Is Colorado Tourism Turning To Pot?

Colorado MarijuanaWanna get Rocky Mountain High? Come to Colorado.

No, it’s not anywhere near an official slogan yet, but with marijuana now legal under Colorado state law, and with legislation regulating the sale of marijuana to be discussed by state, city and municipal officials, many residents are beginning to wonder what marijuana tourism could look like in a state known for majestic mountains and bustling ski towns.

The Colorado Tourism Office has not taken any stance on marijuana tourism branding just yet, but recommendations published by the Amendment 64 Task Force – a broad consortium tasked with researching and recommending legislative action to state lawmakers surrounding the legalization of marijuana – hint that pot will very likely be legal for both residents and non-residents.

“Amendment 64 authorizes persons in Colorado to posses up to one ounce of marijuana. The Task Force therefore recommends that the General Assembly clarify that all persons aged twenty-one years or older – resident or a visitor – shall be permitted to purchase marijuana for personal use,” the Task Force published.

If state legislators follow this advice, anyone over 21, from anywhere, will be able to walk into a store and buy a bag of weed legally under state law. (It’s still completely illegal under federal law.)

What marijuana retailers will look like is up for debate. The state legislature has yet to discuss the matter and local city and town governments can set their own local laws on whether or not to allow any retail establishments to sell weed.

Colorado Marijuana (1)The Denver City Council Amendment 64 Committee met for the first time on March 11 to hash out the city’s next move on marijuana. Many smaller towns and municipalities around Colorado have already chosen to place a moratorium on marijuana retailers until state laws are in place.

With 207 licensed medial marijuana providers (and just 204 liquor stores), Denver has already proven itself ready, willing and able to bring pot above board.

Amsterdam-style coffee shops, brownie shops and other businesses that cater to the group consumption of marijuana were not expressly allowed or outlawed in Amendments 64. The amendment states that the “open and public consumption” of weed is illegal.

Denver Assistant City Attorney David Broadwell pointed out that the terms “open and public” are very vague during a recent meeting of the Denver City council.

“A private club with three or more employees is already (excluded) by the clean indoor air act. The devil is in the details,” Broadwell said. “The key to answering this question is to let us know exactly what ‘open and public’ means.”

Officials at the Colorado Tourism Office were more or less mum on the question of marijuana being used as a marketing and branding tool and will probably remain so until laws are signed.

I asked the Colorado Tourism Office whether they would use marijuana in branding and state promotional efforts and received this response:

cs“There are many uncertainties and issues to be resolved surrounding Amendment 64. Therefore it is impossible for the Colorado Tourism Office to take a stance and make any comments or predictions on how this issue will ultimately impact Colorado’s tourism industry. Regardless of Amendment 64, the Colorado Tourism Office will continue to market and position Colorado as a premier four-season convention and tourism destination.”

Denver residents who are uncomfortable with the commercialization of marijuana, spoke out during the meeting.

“Did those who voted for Amendment 64 plan for Colorado to become a center for pot tourism?” asked Denver resident Suvi Miller.

Whether officially sanctioned by the Colorado Tourism Office or not, it appears that many pot enthusiasts will be visiting the state in the near future. The laws regulating how much marijuana they can purchase and where it can be consumed are still very much up for debate, which should make for interesting political theater in the coming months.

Amendment 64 gives lawmakers until October 1 to decide how to regulate weed in the state.