Will the Legalization of Marijuana Cause “Weed Tourism?”
Since Amendment 64 passed in Colorado and Washington won the pot vote, making recreational consumption of marijuana legal, there is much speculation about possible “weed tourism.”
The new laws state that anyone over the age of 21 can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana. People can also grow up to six plants in their homes, with 3 harvesting at the same time. The harvested marijuana can amount to over an ounce in one’s home but they can only carry an ounce on their person outside of their homes.
Although these state laws have passed, federal law still trumps state law with respect to possession of a controlled substance according to the Controlled Substance Act. However, officials speculate that the feds will likely concede to Washington and Colorado state law, much like they have with medical marijuana laws. It is still largely unknown how this will actually play out once both states make the laws official or how it will impinge upon the drug laws and crime in other states.
According to the laws, you don’t have to be a resident of Washington or Colorado to purchase and consume marijuana. However, once they leave the state, consumers must adhere to local state laws. Many speculate that this will create an influx of “weed tourists” much like Amsterdam has seen.
This may create problems for neighboring states if tourist attempt to transit lower cost weed across state lines. Florida has experienced a similar issue with an influx of people going to pain clinics over the past decade to get prescription drugs. The main interstate that runs through Florida, known as “OxyContin highway,” has required heavy patrolling for opportunistic drug dealers who bring prescription drugs to nearby states like Arkansas and Kentucky.
It is unknown how these new laws and potential weed tourism will impact daily life writ large – will people be subject to weed smoke in public areas? Will there be designated weed-smoking areas? Will more people develop marijuana dependence similar to the rise in alcoholics after prohibition ended? Will groups like Marijuana Anonymous increase in numbers? There are many unknowns and it will be interesting to see how this plays out among federal and state law and if it develops into a real drug tourism problem like Florida has seen over the last decade.