Legal marijuana in Colorado is attracting hordes of visitors to the Centennial State. A recent study from the Colorado Tourism Office showed that legal weed is a very strong motivator to get people to make trips to Colorado. In fact, nearly half of all tourists to the state have said that marijuana laws influenced their vacation decisions.
Board member of a cannabis tourism company Al White said of the findings, “I think it is rearing its head as a significant travel and tourism amenity for visitors coming to Colorado."
However, while state marijuana laws might be convincing people to visit Colorado, a surprisingly low percentage of tourists are partaking in legalized marijuana. In the survey, only 8% of Colorado visitors said that they visited a marijuana dispensary. Of course, there’s always the possibility that these people were not entirely forthcoming.
Director of tourism surveys for Strategic Marketing and Research Insights Denise Miller said, “I think definitely the laws are having an influence when people are considering Colorado. We can see that it's still not a large percentage in terms of what people are doing, but it's become more of a motivator for those who want to do it. It's certainly having some influence, both, I think, positive and negative, on that decision process."
Meanwhile, it appears that the real winner of increased tourism from legal marijuana is the state’s office of tourism. The department has spent more than $5.3 million on its “Come to Life” campaign. Whether or not this campaign is actually responsible for the state’s booming tour industry is debatable. Nevertheless, the creators of the campaign are being credited for the state’s tourism success. These advertisements make absolutely no mention of marijuana.
Of course, some people have been more influenced to visit the state because of marijuana laws than others. When asked how strong of an influence legalized marijuana had on their decision to visit Colorado, about 22% of the respondents said that marijuana was “extremely influential”. About 21% said marijuana was “very much influential”. And about 7% said that marijuana was only “somewhat influential”. The other 50% said that marijuana did not have an influence on their decision. Still, very few of these people actually visited a dispensary.
With only 8% of tourists claiming to have visited a marijuana dispensary during their trip, the number of tourists who partake in legalized marijuana during their trip is not increasing. Of the 8% of tourists who did visit a dispensary, 85% said that marijuana was their primary reason for visiting the state. Last year, this number was only 56%.
The legal sale of recreational marijuana went into effect for Colorado on January 1, 2014.