Cannabis Tourism 101: What to Know and Where to Go

Published on June 1, 2016 · Last updated January 10, 2022

With cannabis reform sweeping the world, canna-friendly vacations are becoming possible in many different scenic and exciting locations. Recreational use is now legal in four different states and the District of Columbia, while at least a half dozen more states will vote on legalization this year. Latin America and the Caribbean is opening up too, with Uruguay, Mexico, Jamaica, and Colombia leading the way toward ending the Drug War completely. Across the pond, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Portugal have joined Holland in decriminalizing personal use, while Germany just legalized medical marijuana, a sign that other major European countries will be falling like dominos soon.

But because cannabis laws are confusing even in the most progressive places, like Colorado (where smoking in public can still land you a $999 fine), cannabis tourism is still far from a free-for-all: there is plenty you need to know before you simply pack and go. Whether you’re looking for canna-friendly accommodations where you can toke to your heart’s delight without getting hassled, or would like advice on how to find bud, edibles, and accessories while on vacay, we hope this basic guide to cannabis travel will inform, educate, and inspire you.

Bud and Breakfasts and Cannabis-Friendly Hotels

Bella Vista Estate cannabis bed and breakfast in Colorado

One of the easiest ways to ensure that you can enjoy your medicine without worry is to stay in an accommodation that is designated 420-friendly by its owners. Colorado is pioneering this movement with luxury digs like Nativ Hotel downtown, where half the rooms come with balconies where smoking and vaping is allowed, and the B&B Adagio, which offers six historic suites designed specifically with the cannabis connoisseur in mind.

But a Rocky Mountain high is just the tip of the cola for the fast expanding cannabis-friendly accommodation market. Check out the listing site Bud and Breakfast for an Airbnb-style selection of international rooms and properties, including everything from cabanas on the white sand beaches of Ibiza, Spain, to lodges in the temperate rainforests of Homer, Alaska. Every listing is completely cannabis friendly and many come furnished with bongs, vaporizer rigs, or infused welcome mints, so you don’t even have to travel with your paraphernalia.

5 Unforgettable Cannabis Vacation Destinations You’ll Want to Book ASAP

Buying Cannabis and Edibles Hassle-Free

Cannabis-infused brownie edible

The current worldwide legal landscape of cannabis is a patchwork quilt of different regulations and laws that is anything but clear and comforting to the casual consumer. The best way to steer clear of problems is to contact local dispensaries and cannabis clubs before leaving home. You should be able to get an authoritative rundown on what the current local rules are and make valuable insider contacts that can put you in touch with quality herb and other products.

In places where cannabis remains illegal, like England for example, organizations like the London Cannabis Club hold meetups and events, including smoke-outs in public locations and private dinner parties where marijuana is cooked right into the main dish. Organizations like this are also intensely active in the fight to legalize cannabis locally, and can both inform and connect you before you arrive in “The Big Smoke” (as London is nicknamed).

Even in countries that do not persecute cannabis, like Spain, where gorgeous Barcelona is earning a reputation as the “New Amsterdam” due to the proliferation of cannabis clubs, connecting before arriving is an intelligent move. Almost all of Barcelona’s 350-plus cannabis clubs are members only, meaning you cannot simply show up and join the party unannounced. However, Cannabis Barcelona can set you up before your trip with everything you’re going to need to smoke out like a local when you arrive.

Will Barcelona Be the New Amsterdam? What Tourists Should Know About Cannabis in Spain

Buying on the street can be problematic but it can also be the best deal in town, especially in developing countries like Colombia and Mexico where personal possession is decriminalized but there are no dispensaries or formal clubs. Your best insurance is to fully research the particular laws in the places you are visiting before engaging in any street transactions, as prohibitions and punishments vary greatly by location and quantity of possession. The Citizens’ Guide to State by State Marijuana Laws by Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, is a great resource for anyone planning a trip in the U.S. To find individual dispensaries on your travels, use Leafly’s dispensary finder.

Enjoying Cannabis Travel and Tourism Responsibly

Plane flying through the sky

Whether sampling cheeses and wines in the finest restaurants in Paris with your taste buds enhanced by a puff of GSC (f.k.a Girl Scout Cookies) or taking an introspective stroll through the ancient Redwood Forest of Humboldt County, California under the semi-psychedelic influence of a Jack Flash infused brownie, cannabis can be integrated into almost any travel plan with amazing results. Just be careful to respect local laws and customs, keeping consumption out of the view of families and children in traditionally conservative cultures and passing the joint when among like-minded locals.

In fact, the riskiest part of cannabis tourism is in the travel itself, as cannabis remains illegal at a federal level in the U.S., which unfortunately governs airports, flights, and other forms of transportation like Amtrak (an incredible way to travel while fully loaded, by the way). If you’re going to travel with cannabis, it’s best to have some sort of medical card or official legal documentation ready to show authorities.

As the world embraces cannabis like never before and cannabis travel begins to evolve, there’s no time like the present get out there and enjoy it.

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Ocean Malandra
Ocean Malandra
Ocean Malandra is a journalist and travel writer who divides his time between Northern California and South America. His work has appeared everywhere from Alternet to Business Insider, and he currently contributes to, Vice MUNCHIES, Paste Magazine, 7x7 Magazine, and Leafly.
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