PORTLAND — Sam Rosenbaum has Stephen Colbert to thank for his career switch from accountant to cannabis tour operator. The newly minted MBA was watching an episode of “The Colbert Report” in 2014 when the comedian spoke of a “cannabis green rush” coming to Colorado, which had recently become the first state to legalize recreational marijuana.
“The part about bus tours kind of jumped out at me,” Rosenbaum, 34, said. “I came up with High 5 Tours and registered it the next week.” It was a prescient move. One year later, when Rosenbaum’s home state of Oregon voted to legalize cannabis, High 5 Tours was the state’s first cannabis bus tour.
Rosenbaum is not alone in his attempts in growing the world of cannabis tourism.
Eleven states in the United States so far have voted to allow people 21 and older to buy regulated amounts of cannabis product for consumption on private property. Sales systems are not yet in place in Michigan and Maine, and in Massachusetts a gradual licensing of dispensaries began in November. In Vermont, as in Washington, D.C., possession, growing and sharing cannabis are legal, but not buying or selling.
But in six other states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington), business is booming at cannabis dispensaries and related businesses.
As for cannabis tourism, it is totally hot in Colorado and California and emerging in others. Travel entrepreneurs like Rosenbaum are organizing marijuana-infused experiences, including painting classes, bus tours and food classes.
In the Mile High City
The pioneers of cannabis tourism, Colorado Cannabis Tours and My 420 Tours, are in Denver.
The Original Colorado Cannabis Tour includes visits to two dispensaries, after which onboard consumption of purchases is encouraged. Visits to a growing facility and a glass-pipe blowing demonstration round out the $89 bus tour,