Despite legal obstacles and a certain amount of controversy, the cannabis-friendly travel industry is flourishing. Having dominated cannabis tourism for 40 years, Amsterdam is now stepping back from this multibillion-dollar sector, creating opportunities for emerging travel destinations around the globe. In an effort to rein in carousing visitors, Amsterdam officials announced in May of this year their plans to tamp down disruptive behavior in the city’s Red Light District, including a ban on smoking cannabis on the streets, reducing hours for restaurants and brothels, and tightening some alcohol restrictions. In contrast, Thailand, Jamaica, Spain, Canada, and the United States have all loosened their cannabis laws, which are attracting an increasing number of tourists. Read on to learn more about the top events happening at these five incredible travel destinations to indulge your passion as a cannabis enthusiast.
Leading that pack of potential Amsterdam successors is Thailand. Long renowned for strict drug laws, Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalize recreational cannabis in June 2022 and now has thousands of dispensaries. Decriminalization has had a major impact on the nation’s hospitality industry, with bars in every city proffering pre-rolled joints alongside buckets of mixed drinks, and restaurants serving cannabis-infused food and cocktails to guests looking for a different kind of buzz.
One of the biggest events in the country is the Phuket Cannabis Cup, taking place in December 2023. Featuring several levels of competitions, product displays, and cannabis discussions, the first Cannabis Cup last year recorded over 1000 people in attendance with about 50 companies actively participating in the event. Competition categories include the Best Greenhouse, Best Indoor Sativa, Best Indoor Indica, Best Indoor Hybrid, a Beauty Trimming Award and a Fastest Joint Rolling Competition. Ticket holders are also able to enjoy engaging panel discussions on cannabis laws, legalization and use.
Denver, Colorado, USA
Colorado became the first state in the United States to legalize recreational cannabis, and Denver, its capital, has emerged as a paradise for its consumption. With many dispensaries and consumption lounges, visitors can explore a wide range of cannabis-related activities.
The International Church of Cannabis, for example, is an open-to-the-public, family-friendly venue and home to members of Elevationism. This religious group uses cannabis as a sacrament, and visitors are welcome to attend a service. On offer is a 1-hour light show with a combination of lasers, guided meditation, and accompanying rock music. In addition to the show, ticket holders have unlimited access to the Church's retro arcade lounge, art gallery, movie theater, and Gandhi Garden.
If cooking is your thing, however, Colorado Cannabis Tours has a delicious introductory class on cooking with cannabis. They also offer a Puff, Pass & Paint Class, a Cannabis Karaoke Night and a three-day Pipemaking Course.
Barcelona has gained a reputation as a cannabis-friendly city with its numerous cannabis clubs. These private establishments offer a cozy and relaxed atmosphere where members can enjoy a wide range of hemp products.
Barcelona is a hub for cannabis events throughout the year. One notable event is the Barcelona Hemp Fair, where you can explore a variety of hemp-related products, from clothing to cosmetics. Another exciting gathering is the Champions Cup, a cannabis competition that celebrates the best strains and products.
However, the most important cannabis event in Barcelona – Spannabis – is also the biggest cannabis event in all of Europe. With vendors numbering in the hundreds and attendees in the tens of thousands, this event is like the Christmas of cannabis in Barcelona. Held at the Fira de Cornella, Spannabis features vendors and representatives from many different sectors of the industry; seedbanks, nutrient companies, glass blowers, edibles, industrial equipment makers and sellers, cannabis-friendly clothiers, authors, activists, lobbyists, and much more.
Jamaica has been synonymous with quality cannabis for decades, especially since the global popularity of Reggae icon Bob Marley and their native Rastafarianism religion. Even though smoking weed is a regular visual associated with the island, many still wonder if it is actually legal or just not strictly enforced? In 2015, the Jamaican government passed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act to decriminalize cannabis, and introduced cultivation and sale licenses. Medical cannabis dispensaries and cafes have since begun popping up island wide.
Jamaica boasts a range of cannabis-friendly accommodations. From luxurious resorts to cozy guesthouses, many places openly embrace cannabis culture. For example, the Kaya Herb House in Ocho Rios is the first legal medical cannabis dispensary in the Caribbean. Here, you can explore the educational cannabis tours and even enjoy a spa day infused with cannabis treatments.
Taking you behind the scenes of cannabis cultivation, cannabis farm tours allow you to witness the growing process and even participate in harvesting. It's an educational experience that gives you a deeper understanding of the plant's significance in Jamaican culture. Some tours even come with a complimentary spliff and include experiences such as infused coffee at a cannabis café and a farm-to-table lunch with local Rastafarians.
With the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, Vancouver has become a hotspot for hemp enthusiasts. The city boasts a thriving cannabis scene, including dispensaries, cannabis-friendly accommodations, and even hemp-infused dining experiences.
One of the most significant events that takes place is the Vancouver 420 Cannabis Festival, held in April every year. Here, you can expect to see thousands of people, hundreds of market stalls and all kinds of cannabis-related products, paraphernalia and souvenirs. There are usually T-shirts and tie-died clothing to buy, pot-infused edibles to check out, and various cannabis strains to purchase. The event also features guest speakers covering a variety of cannabis-related topics and several bands play live music to set the mood. Attendees have the opportunity to learn about the latest cannabis products, network with other cannabis enthusiasts, and connect with local advocacy groups. Although there is often a police presence, the officers are there primarily to ensure nothing gets too far out of hand – not to arrest people – and many visitors amble around openly lighting up.
The Bottom Line
This is by no means an exhaustive list of weed-friendly destinations. Many destinations are ushering in a more tolerant approach to cannabis, and are likely to explode as weed tourism hotspots. These include Portugal, Estonia, Mexico, Belize, and even South Africa. As with any vacation, success is all about achieving the perfect balance of good planning and spontaneity. We encourage thorough research before embarking on your first 420-friendly excursion,