The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 9, 2012

Marijuana vote bodes well for weed tourism

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The Colorado counties where big ski resorts are located seem to have made up their minds. The marijuana measure passed by overwhelming margins, with more support than in less visited areas.

The home county of Aspen approved the marijuana measure more than 3-to-1. More than two-thirds approved marijuana in the home county of Colorado's largest ski resort, Vail. The home county of Telluride ski resort gave marijuana legalization its most lopsided victory, nearly 8 in 10 favoring the measure.

"Some folks might come to Colorado to enjoy some marijuana as will be their right. So what?" said Betty Aldworth, advocacy director for the Colorado marijuana campaign.

Washington state already sees a version of marijuana tourism.

Every summer on the shores of the Puget Sound, Seattle is host to "Hempfest," which according to organizers attracted around 250,000 people over three days this year. For those three days, people are largely left alone to smoke publically at a local park, even as police stand by.

"People travel to Seattle from other states and countries to attend Seattle Hempfest every year to experience the limited freedom that happens at the event," said executive director Vivian McPeak. "It's reasonable to assume that people will travel to Washington assuming that the federal government doesn't interfere."

McPeak draw parallels to Amsterdam where an annual "Cannabis Cup" attracts tourists from all over the world and Vancouver, British Columbia, which has lax marijuana rules that have borne marijuana cafes drawing travelers.

Amsterdam's marijuana tourism is in a hazy spot these days, though. The incoming Dutch government suggested a national "weed pass" that would have been available only to residents and that would have effectively banned tourists from Amsterdam's marijuana cafes. The "weed pass" idea was scrapped, but under a provisional governing pact unveiled last week, Dutch cities can bar foreigners from weed shops if they choose.

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