It is high season at Colorado’s mountain resorts. Last year’s launch of recreational cannabis has created a mini-boom in tourists looking to shop at dispensaries. Some local officials and businesses look to the new tourists as good for the local coffers. But others say the ski towns have dipped a bit too far into stoner culture “potentially damaging the state’s tourism brand,” according to Fox Business.
Actions to correct last year’s legalization have been swift. In December, Breckenridge residents pushed the downtown’s sole dispensary off Main Street. Granby officials stopped a dispensary from opening. Aspen Daily News tells it like it is: “A Front Range cannabis operation set to open in a few weeks in Aspen will be the town’s fifth recreational shop, matching Breckenridge as the two ski-resort towns with the most marijuana businesses in Colorado.”
Clearly, it’s not as easy to fire up. According to the Telegraph, “The only place it’s clearly allowed is in a private home, with the owner’s permission. It’s banned in the shops or anywhere in public – including on chairlifts, in the smoking areas of bars or in the not-so-secret ‘smoke shacks’ in the woods around many resorts.”
Vail even hunted down makeshift shelters in hard-to-reach areas and demolished them. “We will continue to communicate that consumption of marijuana is illegal in public and on federal land,” Vail Resorts’ Russ Pecoraro said in a statement about destroying the shacks in Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail.
The Colorado Ski Safety Act that states that you can be fined up to $1,000 if caught on a ski lift or ski run while “under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance, or other drug.”
Après-ski is another story. Vail Daily covered the first bud and breakfast locations catering to cannabis tourism. “The Silverthorne lodge is the second Bud and Breakfast location in Colorado, along with Adagio, a Victorian-style home in south Denver. Both are owned and operated by a Denver-based company, The Mary Jane Group, founded by one of the cannabis industry’s leading entrepreneurs, Joel Schneider.”
“This is a very high-brow experience,” said Tyson Broyles, company controller with The MaryJane Group (OTCQB: MJMJ). “That’s why we bring in the full-time chef, the staff, everything you’d expect from a high-class hotel. We don’t want to be just another bed and breakfast, and people love it — they really do.”
Tourism is Colorado’s No. 2 industry, racking up $17.3 billion in tourism spending from 64.6 million visitors. “Officials cite the improving economy and the weather, with healthy snow totals historically being the most significant driver for mountain visits.”
A state-produced July report on the cannabis industry concluded that 90 percent of recreational sales in mountain resort communities go to out-of-state visitors. That’s a combination that should keep traditional and cannabis tourism profitable.