Times have never been better for cannabis enthusiastic travelers, as more and more countries in the world decriminalize or legalize weed. Most travel destinations offer exquisite wines, a selection of fine cheese, and interesting architecture, while others offer beautiful scenery and fantastic exploration of ancient monuments.
The focus of this article are all the travel destinations that allow you to explore their touristic attractions while enjoining some cannabis along the way. You can even plan your entire vacation or a holiday to get high while enjoying natural beauties and historical landmarks. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 travel destinations where you can ride the magic dragon:
Jamaica: Historically speaking, cannabis is a significant part of Jamaican culture, and probably one of the main reasons for Jamaica’s popularity in today’s pop culture. Regardless of weed prohibition that lasted for 102 years, the locals tied ganja to their many traditions, believing that it’s the cure for the soul.
Today, Bob Marley’s hometown is looking to make weed into the country’s brand, and potential tax revenue. The government allowed the cultivation of up to five plants, while possession of up to two ounces isn’t a criminal offense but remains a petty offense. Carrying that amount in public will land you a $3 fine, while the possession of larger amounts remains a criminal offense. Despite being illegal, Ganja tours remain ever popular in this tropical paradise, allowing tourists to explore more than sandy white beaches, and stunning waterfalls. Besides literal fields of cannabis, you can explore many of Jamaica’s beauties, culture, and music – all with a spliff between your lips.
Colorado: The legalization of cannabis sparked a new “gold rush,” as many flock to Colorado to try their hand in the cannabis industry. Besides investors and ganjapreneurs, Colorado’s new, more liberal laws are attracting cannabis enthusiasts, benefitting the local tourism. According to these new laws, non-residents can now buy up to 7 grams of cannabis per transaction. The rule applies regardless of the form you’re purchasing, be it flowers, edibles, or concentrates. However, residents can buy and possess up to 28 grams, which is much more than tourists can get. So, if you’re having friends or relatives in Colorado – now’s the time for a visit.
Keep in mind that locals appreciate a little discretion, so you’re better off smoking in the privacy of your hotel room before going out on the town. Unfortunately, there aren’t any cafes or bars in which you can smoke cannabis publicly, but you can consume all the brownies you want. Even so, Colorado offers booking options on several cannabis tours, including classy ones where you get to ride a limo.
Washington: Unlike Colorado, the home of grunge music allows all weed enthusiasts to purchase and possess up to 28 grams, even tourists. Even so, the culture here is more conservative than Colorado, so the same rules of discretions also apply here. Despite legalizing cannabis, Washington State is amping up its cannabis laws, which affects everyone who uses or works with medical marijuana. Patients with a doctor’s prescription can now home-grow up to four plants and purchase up to 18 ounces of high-THC products. Dispensaries, on the other hand, will have to meet the medical marijuana endorsement to stay in business and work with medical-grade cannabis only.
As a tourist, you’re better off smoking in private, before setting off to explore Washington’s colorful history.
Amsterdam: Visiting the weed capital of Europe is almost every stoner’s dream, since the city is best known for its famous coffeeshops that feature various weed consumables. The coffeeshops have been part of Dutch culture since the ’70s, and they specialized in all-things cannabis since then. Nowadays, they mostly attract tourists from all around the world, allowing weed enthusiasts and connoisseurs to sample and enjoy cannabis in all forms and sizes. Keep in mind that they feature some strong stuff, which will likely hit hard, so pace yourself. Besides its developed marijuana tourism, the city itself is a touristic attraction, with elaborate canals, lovely streets, and beautiful architecture. It’s best explored by another thing Amsterdam’s known for – a bicycle. Just like cannabis, bikes are a huge deal in Amsterdam, though we wouldn’t recommend indulging and cycling. At least not without training wheels and a helmet.
Siem Reap: The capitol of Camobia’s 10th largest province is well-known for its surrounding temples, most notable of which is the stunning Angkor Wat. But the beauty of Siem Reap isn’t limited to the ancient temple complex; there are many touristic attractions you can enjoy while visiting.
For touring weed enthusiasts, we recommend visiting happy pizza parlors, before going on a temple run, or visiting the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre. Many restaurants offer edibles like happy pizza, as a somewhat legitimate way of getting high. We advise caution, however, as the THC content in edibles may vary significantly from one restaurant to another. Smoking cannabis is still officially illegal in Cambodia, but it’s readily available everywhere and to anyone. Luckily, the police rarely interfere, so there’s virtually no chance of getting caught. If you do get caught, by some unfortunate turn of events, you might have to grease some palms to get off the hook.
Argentina and Chile: Though they went through some hard-fought battles against drugs, Argentina and Chile both legalized marijuana for medical use, and decriminalized recreational use. With these changes, you can enjoy blissfully warm weather, beautiful scenery, and a joint when either Argentine or Chile.
New York: The State of New York made some significant changes in 2019 when the full decriminalization bill passed the legislature. Furthermore, the New York City Council passed a law that prohibits employers from requiring their potential and current employees to be tested for THC, as Jonathan from MedSignals commented. This law does not apply to drug testing required by the US Department of Transportation or federally funded organizations. You should keep in mind that possession of cannabis is still illegal unless you have a doctor’s prescription.
Sri Lanka: Thanks to the traditional Ayurveda system of medicine, the people of Sri Lanka have many spiritual traditions and medical practices closely tied to cannabis. Medicinal use of marijuana, as wells as government-sanctioned cultivation and sale, are legally protected activities in this South Asian country.
Most travel destinations described in this article legalized weed, or have pretty liberal views towards cannabis, promising fantastic and high times for tourists. So, smash the piggy bank, pack your stuff, and hit the airport. We wish you a bon voyage and don’t forget to pass that joint.
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Jay-Z announces new line of cannabis products dubbed Monogram
Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z is launching his own cannabis brand in partnership with Caliva, the California-based weed company that hired the star as its chief brand strategist last year.
Named Monogram, Jay-Z’s line of marijuana products launched its website and social media accounts on Friday.
“Monogram marks a new chapter in cannabis defined by dignity, care and consistency. It is a collective effort to bring you the best, and a humble pursuit to discover what the best truly means,” Monogram’s website highlights.
No further information on the specific products that will be sold under the Monogram brand has been released yet.
However, according to the website, the flower used in Monogram’s products is grown in small batches, with a board of “cannabis experts” tasked with grading and hand-selecting each flower that goes into the line.
The New York rapper joined Caliva in 2019 as a brand strategist, which entailed overseeing the creative direction of the company. Furthermore, Jay was focused on Caliva’s social equity efforts as he aimed to increase economic participation of people disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition in the newly legal industry.
As for when consumers can expect to try Jay-Z new products, a spokesperson told the New York Daily News Monogram still hasn’t set its dispensary release schedule. The line will “definitely be available across all of California,” according to the spokesperson.
In other news, basketball star Shawn Kemp who played for the Seattle SuperSonics is also showing his love of pot. Kemp is set to open Seattle’s first black-owned marijuana dispensary this Friday. The Sonics legend named his dispensary Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis and is hoping to serve as a model for others in the black community who might be interested in foraying into the legal marijuana business in the area.
“I’m looking forward to welcoming Sonics fans on a regular basis, starting with opening day. I hope that Shawn Kemp’s Cannabis will be an inspiration for people to get involved with the legal cannabis industry, especially people of color,” the Reign Man said in a press release.
Analysis: Legal weed in Texas would generate over $500 million in tax revenue per year
Legalizing marijuana in Texas could generate over half a billion dollars in tax revenue per year and create more than 40,000 new jobs, according to the results of a report released by Vicente Sederberg LLP earlier this month.
Legal cannabis sales in Texas would reach about $2.7 billion annually based on the fact that there are more than 1.5 million residents over the age of 21 that consume pot on a monthly basis, the analysis calculated.
The estimated tax revenue was calculated under the assumption Texas would tax marijuana sales at the same rate as Colorado at 20.6%. This would amount to $1.1 billion in taxes per biennium, while Texas could collect an additional $10 million per year through the issuing of marijuana business licenses.
The report notes Colorado has raised nearly $13 million on average per year just from license and application fees. Furthermore, the report indicated that current taxpayer dollars that go towards marijuana arrests and prosecutions amount to $311 million per year – money that Texas would save should it legalize pot.
“States across the country are seeing the benefits of legalizing and regulating cannabis. It is inspiring lawmakers in prohibition states to reexamine the efficacy and costs of their current policies and take a closer look at the alternatives,” said Shawn Hauser, a partner at Vicente Sederberg.
“The goal of this report is to provide a snapshot of the economic benefits Texas would experience if it started treating cannabis more like alcohol for adults 21 years of age and older,” he commented on the new report.
Aside from the tax revenue that legal weed in Texas could generate, the report highlighted marijuana’s job creation potential. An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 new jobs would be available in the newly legal industry, with tens of thousands of additional indirect positions, the report estimated.
Hauser also pointed out the added economic benefits of legalization in Texas given current uncertainties provoked by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Texas is leaving an enormous amount of money on the table by keeping cannabis illegal,” according to him.
Texas was once known for having the strictest drug laws in the U.S., but the state has softened its stance on cannabis in recent years. A very limited medical marijuana program was established in 2015, while, more recently, cannabis possession arrests in the state have been significantly declining after hemp became legal.
Cannabis Businesses Invest in Their Futures with Political Donations
Cannabis companies have been making political donations for years, and in 2020, those donations have continued to grow. In fact, some companies are investing aggressively to shape the future of the cannabis industry either by donating directly to campaigns and politicians or through political action committees (PACs) that support cannabis-friendly candidates and legislation.
So far in 2020, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that the leading cannabis companies, cannabis-related companies, and cannabis trade associations making donations to federal candidates, parties, and outside groups are (in order of 2020 donation amounts to date):
- Canty Ventures
- National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
- Have A Heart
- Beyond Broadway LLC
- Sea Hunter Therapeutics
- Cannabis Trade Federation
- Dan Kopp & Co
- Acreage Holdings
Compare that list to the list of large cannabis company donors in 2019, which included Curaleaf, Parallel Brands (formerly Surterra Wellness), Tweed Inc. (part of Canopy Growth Corporation), Canndescent, and Trulieve. Even ancillary cannabis companies like Dama Financial, WeedMaps, and Acreage Holdings donate large sums of money in 2019 according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
State Donations in 2020
There are a number of legalization (adult-use and/or medical use) and decriminalization measures on state ballots in 2020, and cannabis companies, ancillary companies, and professional associations have been actively donating directly to related campaigns and initiatives at the state level.
In Arizona, Harvest is the biggest donor in support of legalization (Prop. 207) followed by Curaleaf, MedMen, Cresco Labs, Copperstate Farms, Arizona Dispensaries Association, Herbal Wellness Center, and Oasis Dispensaries.
Mississippi’s medical marijuana initiative on the November ballot (Initiative 65) has received donations from the CEO of Heritage Properties (George Walker III), Ghost Management Group (which owns Weedmaps), and the owner of ABKO Labs (Robert Lloyde II).
Ghost Management Group and its Weedmaps subsidiary also donated to support Montana’s and New Jersey’s legalization initiatives. In addition, New Jersey’s legalization Question 1 on the November ballot received donations directly from The Scotts Company (the maker of Scotts Miracle Gro), Pashman Stein Walder Hayden (a New Jersey cannabis law firm), and Compassionate Care Research Institute (a New Jersey dispensary).
Keep in mind, these donations don’t include the donations that cannabis companies and ancillary businesses donate to PACs or that they invest in lobbying. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that the biggest investments in lobbying from cannabis companies, ancillary companies, and trade associations in 2020 have come from the Cannabis Trade Federation, National Cannabis Roundtable, Canopy Growth Corp, Curaleaf, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce, Parallel Brands, Cronos Group, Charlotte’s Web, NCIA, Acreage Holdings, Dama Financial, Trulieve, California Cannabis Association, and Oregon Cannabis Association.
Political Donations from Cannabis Interests Are Not New
One of the biggest political donation stories happened in California when cannabis businesses donated aggressively to former Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s campaign to become the state’s governor in the 2018 election. According to the Los Angeles Times, he secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from cannabis cultivators, processors, and retailers.
By May 2018, Newsom had raised nearly $500,000 from cannabis companies, but he wasn’t the only politician in California to receive money from cannabis interests. At the time, the state’s Treasurer, John Chiang, and Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, also secured donations from the cannabis industry
And of course, these donation numbers don’t even include the many donations from PACs that businesses and individuals working in the cannabis industry donate to. Many of these funds go directly to specific candidate’s fundraising efforts. For example, the Coastal Pacific Political Action Committee held a fundraiser in June 2017, and six days later, the PAC donated $50,000 to Newsom’s campaign.
Another noteworthy political donation happened in Florida over the course of multiple years. The Miami Herald reported that Surterra donated $1.1 million to Florida political candidates and committees between the summer of 2016 and March 2018. Trulieve donated $564,000 during the same period, and Curaleaf donated $469,000.
In Illinois, the doors for cannabis companies to make political donations opened in March 2017 when a federal judge ruled an Illinois provision that did not allow marijuana companies to make campaign contributions in the state was unconstitutional.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the provision prevented contributions to political committees that were established for the purpose of promoting candidates for public office. Since that decision was made, cannabis companies like PharmaCann and Cresco Labs have donated significant amounts to the state’s political candidates and committees.
Business and individual donations to marijuana-friendly political candidates have also become standard in Nevada and Colorado. During the 2016 elections, dozens of marijuana cultivators, processors, and dispensaries donated $75,000 to Nevada legislators according to the Nevada Independent.
Looking back further in history, Florida Senator Rob Bradley received his first donation from a cannabis company in 2015 when Costa Farms donated $10,000 to his political committee.
Similarly, cannabis businesses have actively contributed to Colorado political campaigns for years, and many of those businesses have been holding political fundraisers to support their preferred candidates. PBS reported back in 2014 that Colorado’s congressional delegation had received $20,000 during the first nine months of 2014 from marijuana businesses. Also in 2014, a fundraiser to support political candidates that was held by Tripp Keber of Denver, Colorado’s Dixie Elixirs & Edibles generated $40,000 in donations.
What’s Next for Political Campaign Donations from Cannabis Businesses?
As the cannabis industry continues to grow and more states legalize medical and/or recreational cannabis, laws will continue to evolve. Cannabis businesses and ancillary businesses should absolutely be concerned about which politicians are making those laws.
With that said, it’s safe to assume that political donations from the cannabis industry will get larger and more frequent in the coming years. Let’s put the donations from cannabis companies to political campaigns into perspective. During the first half of 2019, the cannabis industry gave more than $200,000 to members of Congress, which was up from $248,504 donated throughout all of 2018. Compare that to the $42 million that pharmaceutical companies donated to political campaigns across the United States in 2018.
With those numbers in mind, it’s guaranteed that political donations from cannabis and cannabis-related companies will continue to grow. Savvy businesses are paying attention and getting involved in an attempt to influence the regulations that could make or break their companies’ futures.
Originally published 8/24/17. Updated 10/23/20.
Susan Gunelius, Director of Email Marketing Strategy for Cannabiz Media, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her nearly 30-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. She has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.
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