Marijuana Tourism Still Hazy After Legalization In Colorado, Washington

  on November 10 2012 7:27 PM
Colorado Marijuana
Will Washington or Colorado become the next Amsterdam? With ballot measures to legalize pot in both states likely to pass, some say the states could attract "marijuana tourists." Reuters

Two states with some of the most beautiful natural features in America now have another green attraction point for tourists: The marijuana-legalization measures approved by voters in Colorado and Washington last week make it OK for adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of grass -- not only resident adults but also visiting adults.

Tourism is already the second-largest industry in Colorado, according to the Associated Press.

When the ballot propositions passed in both states on Election Day, it marked the first time in the U.S. that pot was deemed acceptable by a voting public, as opposed to laws adopted via the legislative process.

However, there is still disagreement about the effects of the measures that stretches from the family dinner table to the White House.

“Colorado's brand will be damaged [in the event marijuna is legalized], and we may attract fewer conventions and see a decline in leisure travel,” Visit Denver CEO and President Richard Scharf said in a statement before the Nov. 6 vote.

Meanwhile, there are those who are skeptical about the prospect of marijuana tourism.

“I don't think that's going to happen,” Gov. John Hickenlooper told AP. “They're going to flock here to buy marijuana as if they're going to take it back? On an airplane? That seems unlikely to me.”

“For me, it's going to be live and let live," Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo told the Aspen Times. "If people want to come to Colorado because pot is legal -- and that's the sole reason -- it's up to them. I am not the lifestyle police.”

The question remains as to whether the legalization will even become operative. The federal government has shown a willingness to trample on state laws, even in cases where voters have decided they want to allow dispensaries for medical marijuana.

This week, the New York Times ran a so-called Op-Doc bringing attention to the plight of Chris Williams, a medical-marijuana grower who faces an 80-year prison term for operating a grow house despite the legality of his business in his home state of Montana.

President Barack Obama has given no indication he will restrain the controversial drug-enforcement tactics of the U.S. Justice Department. Many activists perceive Obama's inaction as a betrayal, especially as he is a politician who once campaigned on rethinking the stigma around marijuana.

Voters in Colorado and Washington are worried the Justice Department will exert federal authority over the new state laws, a move that would actively suppress the will of the people.

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