Marijuana tourism is a rapidly growing niche industry in the United States, with various states opening up their doors to visitors interested in experiencing cannabis culture. As more states legalize recreational cannabis, the number of travelers interested in cannabis tourism continues to rise. In this blog post, we will explore the difference between recreational and medical marijuana use, the legal situation for states and the federal government, and highlight the states where recreational cannabis is legal. We’ll also share a bit about proper airport protocol to use if you’re wondering about traveling with cannabis, and best practices for staying on the right side of the law. Let’s get into it!

The Differences Between Recreational vs. Medical Marijuana Use

Recreational Marijuana Use

Recreational marijuana use refers to the use of cannabis for leisure and enjoyment. It is legal in several states for adults aged 21 and older, allowing them to purchase and consume cannabis products such as flowers, edibles, concentrates, and topicals. Users can visit licensed dispensaries, lounges, and cafes to enjoy cannabis products in a safe and regulated environment.

Medical Marijuana Use

Medical marijuana use is the consumption of cannabis for therapeutic purposes to manage medical conditions and symptoms. Patients with qualifying medical conditions, such as chronic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma, or PTSD, can access medical cannabis with a recommendation from a licensed healthcare provider. Medical marijuana is often subject to specific regulations and restrictions, including limits on the types of products available and the allowable THC content.

Legal Situations for States and Federal Law Impacting Marijuana Tourism

The legal situation surrounding marijuana use in the United States can be complex due to the differences between state and federal laws.

Federal Law

Under federal law, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal to possess, distribute, or use. However, the federal government has generally taken a hands-off approach when it comes to states that have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. The Biden administration has indicated support for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, but comprehensive reform has yet to be enacted.

State Laws

Many states have taken the initiative to legalize medical or recreational cannabis use. Each state has its own regulations and requirements, including licensing, taxation, and usage restrictions. Tourists visiting states where marijuana is legal should familiarize themselves with the local laws and regulations to ensure a safe and legal experience.

Understanding Dispensaries for Marijuana Tourism

marijuana dispensaries

Dispensaries are licensed retail establishments that sell cannabis products to consumers for recreational and medical use. These establishments are carefully regulated to ensure product quality and safety. Dispensaries offer a wide variety of cannabis products, including flowers, edibles, concentrates, tinctures, topicals, and pre-rolls.

Knowledgeable staff members, often referred to as budtenders, assist customers in selecting the right products based on their preferences and desired effects. Many dispensaries offer online ordering and delivery services for added convenience.

What kinds of cannabis products can you buy at a dispensary?

Flower/Bud

This is the most traditional form of cannabis, consisting of the dried flower buds of the plant, often smoked in a joint, pipe, or bong. The flower can vary in potency and strain, offering different effects and flavors.

Edibles

Cannabis-infused food products such as gummies, chocolates, cookies, and beverages fall under this category. They offer a discreet and convenient way to consume cannabis. Edibles take longer to take effect, typically 30 minutes to 2 hours, and their effects can last several hours.

Concentrates

These are highly potent forms of cannabis made by extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. Types of concentrates include shatter, wax, live resin, and oil. They can be vaporized, dabbed, or added to other products.

Vapes

Pre-filled vape cartridges or vape pens containing cannabis oil or concentrate provide a discreet and easy way to consume cannabis. Vaporizing is often seen as a healthier alternative to smoking because it produces fewer harmful byproducts.

Topicals

Cannabis-infused creams, lotions, and balms are applied directly to the skin for localized relief from pain, inflammation, or other skin conditions. These products do not produce psychoactive effects.

Tinctures

Tinctures are liquid extracts of cannabis that can be taken orally or sublingually (under the tongue). They offer a precise way to dose and can take effect more quickly than edibles.

Capsules

Cannabis capsules contain a measured dose of cannabis oil or powder ingested orally. They offer a convenient and precise dosing option, similar to tinctures.

Pre-rolls

These are ready-to-smoke joints or blunts filled with cannabis flower. They provide a convenient way to consume cannabis without the need for rolling.

Beverages

Cannabis-infused drinks such as teas, coffees, and sodas are becoming increasingly popular. These offer an alternative to edibles and can have a quicker onset of effects.

Isolates

These are pure forms of cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD, extracted from the plant. Isolates can make other products or get consumed directly for targeted effects.

Each type of cannabis product offers its own unique experience and can vary in terms of potency, onset time, and duration of effects. Users should choose products based on their preferences and desired effects.

States Where Recreational Cannabis is Legal

Here is a list of states where recreational cannabis use is legal, along with an overview of the types of recreational cannabis experiences available to travelers. Please keep in mind that in many states as of this publication date, recreational use is forbidden in public spaces. Please make sure to understand local laws in the jurisdiction you plan to visit. Cannabis regulation laws are fluid and change frequently. 

Arizona

Arizona legalized recreational marijuana use in November 2020. Adults aged 21 and older can possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home. The state offers various dispensaries where visitors can purchase cannabis products such as flowers, edibles, and concentrates. There are even a number of cafes where you can purchase a cannabis-infused cup of joe, burger or pizza. The most popular is probably the Mint Cafe in Tempe, near ASU.

California

California was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use in January 2018. Visitors can explore numerous dispensaries, cannabis lounges, and even cannabis-infused fine dining experiences. Delivery services are also popular, offering products such as edibles, flowers, concentrates, and pre-rolls.

cannabis coffeeshop sign

Colorado

Colorado, known for its vibrant cannabis culture, legalized recreational marijuana use way back in 2014. The state is a popular destination for marijuana tourism, with various tours and experiences available, including dispensaries and cannabis-friendly cafes. Delivery services are available in select areas. You can even take a themed tour (a haunted Canna-BOOs tour, for instance) with Colorado Cannabis Tours

Connecticut

Connecticut legalized recreational cannabis use in 2021, but it’s still highly regulated. While the state’s recreational cannabis industry is still developing, visitors can expect to find dispensaries offering a variety of products such as flowers, edibles, and cartridges. Cannabis use is still banned as of this publication date in state parks, state beaches or on the water. 

District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)

Washington D.C. allows adults aged 21 and older to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants. However, there are currently no licensed dispensaries for recreational sales. The city has a limited cannabis delivery market, providing options such as edibles, flowers, and concentrates.

Illinois

Illinois legalized recreational cannabis use in January 2020. The state offers a range of cannabis-related experiences, from dispensaries to cannabis lounges. Visitors can purchase a variety of products, including flowers, edibles, and concentrates. 

Maine

Maine legalized recreational cannabis use in October 2020. Visitors can enjoy cannabis products from licensed dispensaries, offering options such as edibles, flowers, and cartridges. Cannabis tours and farm visits are popular in Maine. There’s even a Social Justice Cannabis Museum in Portland if you’re interested in the history of Marijuana in the U.S.

Maryland

In Maryland, recreational sales are booming, with an estimated 100 dispensaries selling to recreational users already (the state legalized for recreational use in 2023). Medical cannabis was widely available in the state prior to the law’s change, and the recreational market offers a similar range of products, including flowers, edibles, and concentrates.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts boasts a thriving cannabis industry, with numerous dispensaries and cannabis-friendly events. Visitors can purchase various products such as flowers, edibles, concentrates, and topicals. Check out this popular events calendar for upcoming events in Boston.

Michigan

Michigan offers a range of cannabis experiences, including tours, lounges, and dispensaries. Delivery services provide options such as edibles, flowers, and concentrates. One outfitter in the northern part of the state, aims to make outdoor adventuring synonymous with cannabis experiences. You can check out the offerings at DuneGrass Co. here

Missouri

Missouri just legalized recreational cannabis use in February 2023. While the industry is still developing, visitors can expect to find dispensaries offering a variety of products such as flowers, edibles, and concentrates.

Montana

Montana allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to four plants at home. Visitors can explore dispensaries offering flowers, edibles, and concentrates.

marijuana leaf in business window

Nevada

Nevada is a popular destination for cannabis tourists, especially in Las Vegas. Recreational marijuana use became legal in July 2017, and pot lounges started opening in late 2023. Visitors can enjoy dispensaries, cannabis-infused dining experiences, and delivery services offering various products. Las Vegas is also home to the world’s largest dispensary – 16,000 square feet- at Planet 13.

New Jersey

New Jersey legalized recreational cannabis use in April 2022. Dispensaries offer a variety of products and experiences such as flowers, edibles, and concentrates.

New Mexico

Visitors to New Mexico can enjoy a range of cannabis products from dispensaries, including flowers, edibles, and cartridges.

New York

New York legalized recreational cannabis use in March 2021. The state is working to implement a comprehensive cannabis regulatory framework. You can partake in cannabis recreation freely wherever cigarettes are allowed. This means in Manhattan you can smoke on the sidewalk but not in Central Park (parks, near schools and hospitals off limits). Speakeasy-style lounges are popping up all over the place – check out Astor Club and Certz Lounge, and LeFleur Cafe on the Lower East Side has a hidden venue for those in the know. Visitors can expect to find a variety of dispensaries offering flowers, edibles, and concentrates.

Oregon

Oregon was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis use back in 2015. The state offers a range of cannabis experiences, including farm tours, dispensaries, and cannabis-friendly cafes. Visitors can purchase products such as flowers, edibles, and concentrates. Check out Laurie + Mary Jane for the finest in upscale edibles in Portland. “The Martha Stewart” of edibles runs this family business.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to three plants at home. Dispensaries offer a variety of products, including flowers, edibles, and concentrates.

Vermont

Vermont allows adults to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to two plants at home. Dispensaries offer various products such as flowers, edibles, and concentrates. Visitors might enjoy a Vermontijuana Tour of local cannabis farms. 

Washington State

Washington was one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2012. The state offers a wide range of cannabis experiences, including tours, dispensaries, and cannabis-friendly lounges. Visitors can enjoy products such as flowers, edibles, concentrates, and pre-rolls.

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