It’s a brave new world of cannabis tourism. What started out as a budding industry is spreading across the globe -and particularly America -faster than the suction of a gravity bong. While Amsterdam has long been the crown jewel of cannabis-inclusive destinations, the canal-filled city has stiff competition from a host of other pot-friendly locales.
Christiania is a counterculture commune, a self-governing "hippie" town in the center of Copenhagen. The 84-acre autonomous "freetown" was established by artists in 1971 as a social experiment; it has its own flag, currency, and is beyond the reach of Danish law. Cannabis shops operate 24 hours a day in Christiania's "Green Light District." Pusher Street is the town's main drag, and it has the same trippy and semi-apocalyptic vibe as the tent cities that once rainbowed the streets outside of Grateful Dead shows.
Christiania, Denmark. Photo credit: ScottRaymond
In November 2016, Massachusetts voters legalized marijuana for recreational use in the Bay State. While retail pot shops won’t open in Massachusetts until 2018, the law states that cannabis enthusiasts over the age of 21 can keep up to ten ounces of pot at home, are allowed six home-grown plants (a maximum of 12 per household), and can have one ounce of marijuana on them at any time. The ghosts of America’s founding fathers now have the freedom to enjoy something other than a Sam Adams lager.
Boston, MA. Photo credit: 6SN7
Pot tourism is flourishing in Colorado. While city and state tourism boards are still paranoid about promoting weed as a tourist attraction, entrepreneurs are turning cannabis into a powerhouse industry. Colorado is nicknamed the "Napa Valley of weed,” and with its vineyard-esque tours, 420 tours, cannabis cooking classes, and Bud and Breakfasts -many of which come with discounted weed shopping – "Rocky Mountain High” is getting a whole lot higher.
Denver, CO. Photo credit: H. Michael Miley
Amsterdam is and always will be the "Holy City" for travelers on a pot pilgrimage. Since 1976, when Dutch lawmakers pioneered a new approach to soft drugs, pragmatic tolerance has been the name of the game Holland. There are over 250 coffee houses in Amsterdam, and more cannabis strains than fruit in a Vermeer still life.
Amsterdam, Netherlands. Photo credit: MoyanBrenn
Nicknamed "Vansterdam,” the progressive West Coast city has a laid-back and permissive attitude towards cannabis. While possession remains illegal, marijuana use is ignored, and the cannabis economy has mushroomed like a mighty strain of Atomic Haze. West Hastings Street is Ground Zero for ganja in Vancouver, home to Cannabis Culture magazine, the New Amsterdam Café, and the B.C. Marijuana Party headquarters and Vapour Lounge. In addition, the Vancouver Seed Bank and Tokers Lounge offer a head-spinning selection of cannabis seeds.
Vancouver, Canada. Photo credit: Tdlucas5000
According to the Guardian, in the past five years, Barcelona’s booming cannabis clubs have turned Spain into the “Holland of the South.” Spain’s current laws allow marijuana to be used and sold in private members clubs, and the “green economy” is taken full advantage of in the north of the country. While there were only 40 of these private spliff societies in 2010, it’s estimated that there are over 700 in the Catalonia region today. Most annual memberships cost between 20-30 euros.
Barcelona, Spain. Photo credit: Moyan Brenn
Cannabis tourism has been a cash crop for Oregon since October 2015, when pot dispensaries began selling products in the adult recreational-use market. Portland has long been Brooklyn’s quirkily West Coast cousin (think the sketch-comedy series “Portlandia”), a place where you can get married in a doughnut shop or join a club of self-described anarchist Zoobombers who dress in costumes and ride bicycles with banana seats. Cannabis is as commonplace in Portland as brunch, mixologist cocktails, and creative weddings. Speaking of creative weddings: in Oregon, courtesy of Budtender, newlyweds and their guests can enjoy weed at a reception instead of the traditional open bar.
Portland, OR. Photo credit: JeffGunn
Prague, Czech Republic
The Velvet Revolution brought an end to Communist rule in the Czech Republic in 1989. It’s a good thing too, because cannabis and communism don’t mix. Today, the Czech Republic has one of the most liberal drug laws in Europe. While it doesn’t have the flamboyant reputation of Amsterdam or Barcelona –there are no coffee shops, dispensaries, or private pot clubs -Prague is a marijuana-friendly destination, a place where green "buds” rival the city’s golden domes.
Prague, Czech Republic. Photo credit: MoyanBrenn
In its first year of recreational sales, Washington State generated more than $70 million in statewide tax revenue from marijuana. People in the Pacific Northwest like their cannabis as much as grunge music and Starbuck’s coffee. Washington is home to Canna Con, which is billed at "The Nation’s Largest Cannabis Expo.” It’s also where pot pilgrims will find the Original Canna-Bus, a 30-foot mobile lounge and sanctuary devoted to all things marijuana.
Seattle, WA. Photo credit: Maelk
Puenta del Este, Uruguay
What’s better than a resort town? How about a resort town where cannabis –known as porro in Uruguay- is legal. Uruguay legalized the use and possession of cannabis in 2014. The small country is located between Argentina and Brazil; it’s a serene and easily overlooked buffer zone, a place whose idyllic, mellow charm is best described as off-the-beaten path. Puenta del Este is sure to captivate a wide variety of cannabis enthusiasts!
Puenta del Esta, Uruguay. Photo credit: Vince Alongi