Colorado Not Stoked About Promoting Pot Tourism

10.22.2013

By Jonathan Carmona

The Rocky Mountain State is set to legalize marijuana for recreational use, but it isn't encouraging weed tourists.

This winter tourism season, Colorado ski towns will be stocking up on more than just skis and ski boots. Colorado's first recreational marijuana stores, and the first such stores in the country, have finally been scheduled to open in January, according to National Public Radio.

Since Colorado's legalization of the use and sale of marijuana, an overwhelming amount of support has come from Colorado's resort towns, who say these stores could be a boon for the state's tourism industry.

Stu Fraser, mayor of Telluride, explains, "What we attempt to do is make it right for the folks that live here. Then that ends up really making it right for the people that visit here, too."

While the town of Telluride, like much of Colorado, will not be restricting the number of pot shops or their location, Fraser says there is a limit. Telluride has refused to promote marijuana to tourists, and so has the state.

Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, comments, "Marijuana is a personal decision, I guess. And it's not something that my office is going to be marketing to. We're going to market to all of the scenic beauty and glorious vistas, recreational opportunities."

With a rough $17 billion last year, tourism is one of Colorado's biggest industries. And the state has already set plans to collect data on whether marijuana affects people's travel decisions. Not everyone is confident of marijuana's help to the industry. The town of Vail has a moratorium on retail marijuana stores and has also banned medical marijuana dispensaries. Residents of Vail express the opposing concern for the families who vacation in their towns, and who look for a family-friendly experience.

But even in towns who might permanently ban marijuana sales, adult use of marijuana, in private, would still be legal. As Vail town Councilmember Margaret Rogers says, "People are going to be able to buy it somewhere."

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