Legal cannabis has proven to be an excellent tourism attraction. Amsterdam was way ahead of the curb when it came to cannabis tourism. The city became notoriously known for coffee shops where one could walk in, purchase cannabis, and freely take a puff of their zigzag. We’re even seeing how it’s affected the Canadian market, as well, in attracting people from across the world to witness what retail cannabis stores look like in person.
States across the U.S. have launched their regulated cannabis markets to varying degrees of success. The tax revenue generated primarily sold government officials on legalization, but it could also open the doors for more tourism. According to News 12, advocates in New Jersey anticipate a spike in tourism, thanks to the recent legalization. During the New Jersey Conference on Tourism earlier this month, Brach Eichler’s co-chair of the Cannabis Industry Practice, John Fanburg, attested to the opportunities created for tourism with a retail cannabis market. Fanburg cited states where legal cannabis markets are thriving as an example of why New Jersey should follow suit.
“California and Nevada and Colorado – they’re already doing cannabis tourism,” Fanburg said. “You get on the 420 Bus and you drive out to the grow facility. You see how they do it, you see how they process it, and then they have tasting rooms.”
Unfortunately, the current laws surrounding cannabis wouldn’t allow this in New Jersey. However, other opportunities to draw in tourists, such as smoke lounges. Fanburg explained that consumption lounges are safe places to consume cannabis. Lounges can limit the consumption of cannabis in public areas and offer a sense of community for smokers. Fanburg added that these facilities would also need to be associated with a medical dispensary or a legal adult-use retail store.
It’s an excellent opportunity, especially after the pandemic, to help boost the local economy with tourism. The New Jersey Tourism Industry Association said that tourism brought in $20M of New Jersey’s Gross Domestic Products before the pandemic. It accounts for roughly 3% of New Jersey’s economy. The addition of cannabis tourism can accelerate the local economy in that sense. Plus, it seems even more possible in New Jersey. Advocates like Edmund Devax of the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association explained that launching cannabis tourism within the state wouldn’t be any different than sports events in cities like New York and Philadelphia, which aren’t too far away.
There are still ways to go before this could be materialized. However, cannabis tourism would include things like 420-friendly hotels and restaurants and more upscale lounges strictly used for cannabis consumption.
The state is nearly ready to issue licenses. New Jersey will begin opening the gates for applications to grow and cultivate cannabis in the coming weeks. However, those seeking licenses to launch dispensaries and retail stores will wait until March.
New Jersey advocates are enthusiastic about launching creative means to promote the cannabis economy in the state. And it appears that it might be able to occur in the foreseeable future. New Jersey dispensaries will be able to open up shop by the third or fourth quarter of 2022, and there’s a strong potential that cannabis tourism could begin popping up around the same time.