According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in five Americans consumes cannabis. With more people making the plant part of their lifestyle, the demand for canna-focused experiences and consumption-friendly lodging has grown exponentially.
Cannabis Travel Association International (CTAI), a 501c6 organization uniting the global canna-tourism sector, found that the vast majority of consumers are interested in plant-centric experiences even if they haven’t yet taken the leap.
The 2022 CTAI Cannabis Travel Report revealed that over 70% of those polled expressed a desire to tour a cultivation site, take part in a gourmet-infused dinner, or treat themselves to an infused massage.
“One of the reasons people engage in cannabis travel is to immerse themselves in the culture and heritage of cannabis itself,” said Laura Hand, CTAI marketing chair.
“Another reason is they are passionate about wellness and experiences. Cannabis allows them to enjoy activities in a whole new way.”
The enthusiasm around experiential cannabis is not going unnoticed by certain communities who wish to attract this specific demographic and their valuable tourist revenue, looking to cities like Amsterdam and Barcelona for inspiration.
The announcement of the first weed-friendly hotel in Las Vegas was met with great fanfare, with similar properties expected to open soon.
Kansas City, Missouri is planning an entire cannabis entertainment district once adult-use sales come online while destinations like Los Angeles and Modesto in California establish their very own canna-tourism programs highlighting the area’s many dispensaries, farms, and plant-centric excursions.
But cannabis tourism doesn’t just benefit consumers and the places they visit — it also normalizes the plant overall, and helps bring visibility to some of the issues facing the industry today.
Communing With the Plant, Raising Awareness
Seeing exactly where their cannabis comes from is a big draw for many consumers. To be amidst vast fields of towering and fragrant plants is something many only dream of, driving the growth of cultivation site visits across the country. Some companies, like Emerald Farm Tours and Colorado Cannabis Tours, will shuttle you to locations, offering a full day of fun. However, many farms offer a more immersive experience.
Sol Spirit Farm is one such place. Nestled in the iconic Emerald Triangle, the earth-conscious farm offers all-inclusive glamping visits, retreats, and events.
The experience includes farm-to-table meals using ingredients grown on the property, in-depth tours showcasing the regenerative sun-grown cannabis life cycle, and of course, plenty of chances to enjoy the fruits of the earth.
Co-founder Judi Nelson wanted to create an opportunity for people to get away from it all, and at the same time gain perspective on eco-friendly practices during their stay.
“What inspired me was really wanting to provide a place for people to get out of their normal lives and come reconnect with nature,” Nelson told Cannabis & Tech Today. “And then also wanting to help people see regenerative farming and permaculture lifestyle to inspire people to up their sustainability game in daily life.”
Nelson also strives to enlighten guests on the cannabis supply chain, encouraging them to ask, “where exactly did my bud come from?”
“I’ve had people over the years who come and say, ‘I pretty much just buy whatever the budtender recommends, or I just buy whatever is the top shelf’ and they don’t even actually know whether they’re buying indoor or sun-grown — they don’t know anything about what went into that flower!”
At a time when legacy farmers in the famed Emerald Triangle are struggling to make ends meet, the conversation is necessary for consumers to truly understand how their purchases can impact people like Nelson, especially if they consider themselves to be champions of small business.
“It’s really fun when you can open somebody’s eyes, letting them know if they choose regeneratively farmed sun-grown, it’s this kind of an experience where it’s often a small, family-owned farm,” Nelson said.
Creating Safe Spaces and Smashing Stigmas
Canna-tourism is not only an excellent way for consumers to connect with the plant on a deeper level, it’s also a chance to win hearts and minds in the quest for reform.
“By providing a safe and educational environment for people to learn about and experience cannabis, canna-tourism can help to reduce negative stereotypes and increase understanding and acceptance of the plant,” Hand noted.
Offering a secure and inclusive environment rife with learning opportunities is one of the main missions at Coral Cove Wellness Resort, a plant medicine-friendly destination in Little Bay, Jamaica.
Visitors can integrate cannabis and/or mushrooms from an on-site dispensary into their vacations under the guidance of nurturing and open-hearted staff.
“Safety is the most important thing while guests are there,” said Keiko Beatie, Coral Cove’s director of education & outreach, who emphasized the importance of respecting each individual’s needs and desires. “Everybody’s journey is different. We should be able to give people the ability to adapt to their level of growth, especially with plant medicine.”
She added that for many relative newcomers, having these types of experiences can be intimidating and incredibly vulnerable.
This has led the Coral Cove team to do whatever they can to help prepare guests mentally, physically, and spiritually, whether that means advising on what to eat prior, to offering wisdom for integration after.
“Knowledge creates a safer space within one’s own mind,” she proclaimed. “You’re able to walk the walk and talk the talk because you were educating yourself about this natural type of medicine.”
Beatie agrees that evolving people’s awareness and understanding of plant medicine through tourism will not only help the consumer and the community but also encourages dialogue that could end up having a ripple effect reaching far and wide.
“I really believe that we will all have the capability to receive manna from heaven, to expand our horizons, and hopefully, be at a point in time where we feel comfortable with sharing about it so we may be able to assist or inspire others to want to see what they can do for themselves.”
This article first appeared in Volume 4 Issue 4 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.