Cannabis Tourism Is Now Worth $17 Billion

Stephen Andrews
06 Jun 2022

Call it vacation or "canna-cation"! As legalization spreads, bud and breakfast tours with visits to cannabis farms and dispensaries are becoming an increasingly attractive option for stoners and non-stoners alike.

Marijuana currently enjoys majority support in the U.S. Most people approve of the legal cannabis sector. Several polls, which have had their results issued in 2022, repeatedly suggest that around two-thirds of Americans support legal marijuana. 

In one of the latest surveys, conducted by Harris Poll, we also get an insight into how important is cannabis when people choose a destination for vacationing. According to Harris Poll, half of all millennials say that access to legal recreational pot products is important for them when choosing a destination. More than four in ten millennials, or 43%, claim they have decided where to spend their holiday precisely because of legal weed at the destination. 

A national study from 2020 reveals that cannabis-related experiences during vacation were important to roughly one in five (18%) American leisure travelers. This number climbs to 62% when the survey is limited to cannabis users of legal age with an annual income of over $50,000.

Cannabis tourism also appears to stimulate other businesses in the tourism sector. Estimates suggest that some $4.5 billion of expenditure out of $25 billion in legal pot sales for 2021 came out of tourism.

Cannabis tourists benefit both local economies as well as the taxman. They add an extra $12.6 billion to hotels, restaurants, and other amenities.

Destinations are becoming more welcoming to canna tourists as we wave goodbye to the stereotypical image of "the stoner." There's no difference between the typical cannabis tourist and "every other traveler."

A report from the Cannabis Travel Association International (CTAI) claims that the cannabis vacationer is just as likely to be female as male, with a 63% chance to be within the millennial age cohort or younger. The typical tourist is also very likely to have a college degree (59%) and an average household income of $87,000. 

Brian Applegarth, founder of CTAI, says that "By 2025, 50% of [cannabis] travelers in the U.S. will be millennials. Their relationship to cannabis consumption is extremely normalized compared to the stigmatized industry leaders of today."

California is the big leader in cannabis tourism. Various collaborations and partnerships have livened up cannabis-related tourist hotspots, trails, and tours over the last couple of years. Visit Modesto, a convention and visitors bureau for the agricultural hub in California's Central Valley, partnered in the previous year with Cultivar, a cannabis tourism strategy firm founded by Applegarth, to launch the MoTown CannaPass. This is a passport-style reward program that visitors to the valley can use to discover eateries, activities, and cannabis retailers in the vicinity. 

Another initiative is the Oakland Cannabis Trail which takes tour-takers through the city's cannabis legacy. Greater Palm Springs focuses on all cannabis "wellbeing" experiences by offering access to retailers, tours, hotels and spas. While the vibrant West Hollywood neighborhood has been dubbed "the Amsterdam of the Far West," thanks to its remarkable concentration of dispensaries, including those backed by celebrities. 

In terms of general tourism, Florida is the most significant player on the East Coast, with tourist expenditure in 2019 skyrocketing to $99 billion. The Sunshine State has one of the largest medical cannabis markets, valued at $1 billion in annual sales. Those in the tourism sector see a massive potential if recreational legalization is introduced. Florida is the home of 21 million people and annually receives up to 130 million visitors. Legal weed would benefit all other businesses. It's an attractive proposition, which could pour in an approximate $190 million to state coffers after taxes and tourism boost. 

Stephen Andrews