Tips for Exploring America’s Budding Cannabis Travel Industry

Today, you can count the states that don’t have some form of legal cannabis, North Dakota and Idaho, on one hand. As you travel across the country, you see medical, recreational, and decriminalized options at nearly every turn. As cannabis prohibition recedes, and more states in the union legalize the substance for medical and/or recreational use, tourists the world over flock en masse to legal states for a taste of the cannabis craze.

But how can you make the most out of your cannabis travels? What should the intrigued cannabis novice know before booking a trip to the closest legal state? If legal, when and where can you consume it? Is it safe to travel with? What sort of events, or scenic locations does canna-travel offer?

U.S. Cannabis Laws by state, excluding hemp laws, image credit; Lokal_Profil, Wikipedia commons


Not all legal states offer the same forms of cannabis and no two states cannabis laws are the same. So what do these state’s offer, and how do they differ?


The graph above labels recreational states in dark green, medical states in lime green, and CBD only states in light green. Medical states, like Pennsylvania and Arizona, require that patients receive a recommendation from their doctor before they obtain cannabis, typically for one of a list of approved conditions. In recreational states, like California and Nevada, anyone over the age of 21 with a federal I.D., including those out of state, can purchase cannabis like any other product.


CBD only states, like Texas and Georgia, restrict medical cannabis to CBD, or Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive chemical found in cannabis known for its inflammation and seizure fighting properties. This means medical cannabis in these states lack THC, the chemical commonly associated with cannabis’ euphoric “high.” It’s important to note what you’d like to try  and your destination’s legal cannabis laws and forms, before you book your trip.


Even in legal states  places where you can publicly smoke cannabis are hard to find.


Many beginning cannabis travelers believe the misconception that legal states tolerate public cannabis use. You may think nothing of lighting a joint on a Colorado sidewalk, it’s legal right?


Wrong. Even in Denver, you cannot smoke openly and publicly, you must confine your use to private property. This may present a challenge for travelers, as many hotels, motels, and other lodgings prohibit smoking of any kind on the premises.


With that said, keep an eye out for Airbnb listings that offer “420 friendly accommodations.” You can also find many new 420 friendly bed and breakfasts pop up in legal states. These cannabis tourism innovators work around prohibitive laws to provide cannabis experiences for interested travel enthusiasts.


One may find touring a destination, like the golden gate bridge, after exploring a local recreational dispensary easier than booking a cannabis centric activity


If you seek a fully automated, cannabis dream getaway where experts guide you through the experience, you may be out of luck, as the industry simply hasn’t caught up to that point yet. We haven’t seen cannabis theme parks, just yet, but you can still incorporate the plant into your travels as you explore legal states and all they have to offer. Instead of making cannabis the focal point of the trip, one may have more luck incorporating it into a previous itinerary.


For example, you may want to hike the Grand Canyon after you indulged in an edible, or explore the Redwood National Park following a smoke session. It’s important to note that, even in legal states like California, all national parks prohibit cannabis use. As you incorporate cannabis into your travels activities, make sure you avoid traveling via car with open cannabis containers. Just like traveling with an open can of beer, open cannabis will almost always land you a DUI, even in legal states.


Cannabis prices and taxes vary by state, and form (recretional or medical cannabis)


How much does legal cannabis cost? The answer depends on a few factors. First, take a look at your destination’s cannabis tax rates, which can be found by state here. For states that offer both medical and recreational cannabis, recreational cannabis almost always has a higher tax rate than medical. If you purchase recreational cannabis in Colorado, for instance, you must pay 10% more in tax than medical patients.


In terms of traveling with the legal substance, all airlines prohibit cannabis on their flights, even for planes travelling from one legal state to another. You may drive between legal states with cannabis, as long as you seal your cannabis containers. However, due to federal law, cannabis crossing state lines is considered trafficking, so you may wish to be careful and avoid transporting cannabis at all when travelling. When in doubt, finish all cannabis products before leaving a legal state.


The key to canna-travel is understanding and following your destination’s legal cannabis laws and rules, while keeping an eye out for cannabis friendly lodging, events, and areas. As more states continue to reshape their cannabis laws, expect cannabis travel companies to sprout up as businesses seek to take advantage of the impending green rush.


Do you have a cannabis travel story you’d like to share?


About the Author

Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter


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