Could Cannabis Be A Tourist Attraction For Nevada? Officials Want To Find Out
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By Tess Allen
Tourism officials in Nevada are exploring how legal cannabis could attract visitors to the Silver State.
In an email to The Cannabist, the Nevada Division of Tourism said the topic of cannabis is set to be included in its upcoming marketing research.
Nevada recently became the fifth state to permit recreational cannabis sales, after Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Officials are now hoping to figure out whether legal cannabis could indeed serve as a tourist attraction, and if so, to what extent.
“The results of that research will drive just how much we promote (marijuana’s) legality/availability here,” said Nevada Division of Tourism chief communications officer Bethany Drysdale. “In the meantime, because most of our hotel properties are associated with a casino, and casinos are federally regulated, we are not promoting marijuana as recreation to out-of-market visitors.
“Marijuana is still illegal in casinos/casino-hotels, and in public places, and it cannot be transported across state lines.”
The question of marijuana’s marketing effectiveness will first appear in January 2018, said Drysdale.
Tourism officials in other states with legalized recreational cannabis have been similarly cautious. In Colorado, for example, officials have avoided promoting cannabis due to continued federal illegality and marketing limitations included in the state’s adult-use law.
That said, industry members believe the potential in cannabis as a tourist draw to Nevada – and, in particular, to Las Vegas – is enormous. Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association, said her organization could lead a marketing campaign – which would simply state that cannabis is legal for those 21 and up with valid ID – as early as the end of this year.
“I do think we have the potential to be the marijuana tourism capital of the world,” she said.
John Kagia of cannabis research firm New Frontier Data said the extent of marijuana’s impact on Nevada’s tourism industry depends on various factors, including the proximity of legal cannabis businesses to tourist strongholds and how much the existing hospitality industry embraces the idea.
“If the state warmly embraces cannabis, there is an opportunity for Nevada to set the new standards for cannabis hospitality in a way that we have not seen anywhere else in the country,” he said.
A 2016 study found that four percent of visitors to Colorado who were 25 and older came for the cannabis and actually shopped while in the state. If all goes well in Nevada, Kagia believes the state could see that percentage increase to as much as 25 percent of the state’s 50 million-plus visitors per year.