Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Washington's New Pot Tourism Industry Still Has Questions to Answer

Tourism in Washington state is a nearly $6 billion a year business, that creates jobs for more than 53,500 people in the Seattle area. People visit Washington for the scenery, fresh produce, microbrews, fine wines, professional sports, and entertainment. Now, thanks to legalized marijuana, there is a whole new facet to Washington tourism.

Pete Holmes and the City Attorney’s office have given their blessing to allowing tourists to come to Seattle with the express purpose of getting high legally. They also support the state Liquor Control Board’s decision to permit nonresidents to purchase one ounce of marijuana at a retail store. Holmes goes on to clarify that they don’t want to see retailers “oversell” to tourists, increasing the likelihood that marijuana could be carried back across state lines, which would draw scrutiny from the feds.

Some marijuana tourism issues still need to be ironed out though. Among those issues are how the state will determine public consumption and whether or not dedicated marijuana cafes will be permitted. In addition, how will private sector tourism businesses, such as hotels, determine on-site usage?

Some establishments have tried to incorporate “private clubs” in their facilities to allow customers to use marijuana even though it is illegal to use pot in public places. The state Liquor Control Board, however, wants to ban any business with a liquor license from allowing marijuana use on their premises, citing possible impaired driving issues.  Some compromise will have to be reached. After all, if adult tourists are allowed to purchase marijuana without a place to smoke it, it will be difficult to add legal marijuana to Washington’s list of tourist attractions.