When Nevada officially begins the sale of recreational marijuana to adults, one aspect that will be watched closely will be its impact on tourism. Visitors will include the longtime cannabis aficionados, of course, but even more will be casual or even new users. “Our content is driven toward educating the non-cannabis consumer who is interested in it, and wants to learn more about that,” says Brannon Zimbelman, founder of the Travel Joint cannabis website. “[We want to] help them see it’s not bad anymore, get past all of these myths.”
The Travel Joint was founded in 2012 to help visitors find dispensaries, accommodations, activities and events in cannabis-friendly cities. “We started five years ago on election night when they legalized cannabis in Colorado and Washington,” Zimbelman says. “We realized this would be a game changer.” And it has been, as states with legal marijuana have seen an uptick in visitors eager to sample what may be forbidden at home.
So, what kind of cannabis experiences are Travel Joint readers interested in? “I can’t believe the amount of people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who are just completely into dabbing. That’s a lot of our readership—the baby boomers,” Zimbelman says. As to the site’s overall demographic, he notes that “we’ve been getting a lot more international people. Initially, it started with the Bible Belt: Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina—that’s where everybody was coming from. And now it’s coming from Europe—a lot of Canada as well, a lot of South America—but Europe is coming in strong right now.”
The fact that Las Vegas offers medical marijuana card reciprocity with other states has already made it a player in marijuana tourism, but our game will soon go to another level. “Vegas is going to be the capital; it’s going to take over from Colorado,” says Zimbelman. “Colorado is the No. 1 destination, but Vegas is No. 2, and it isn’t even recreational yet. Come July 1, it’s going to pass Colorado for sure.”
“You’re going to have a certain type of growth in Las Vegas,” he explains, “concerts, events, clubs—that kind of stuff. In Northern California, you’re going to see it more like a Sonoma vineyard–type of experience. It’s going to grow organically, geographically.
Whatever recreation that part of the country has to offer, its going to integrate cannabis into that existing culture.”
And it seems that Sin City’s culture could not be more ready.