Cannabis tourism isn’t a new thing — the cannabis cafes of Amsterdam have long attracted tourists from around the world, and in the United States it’s been around in one form or another since Colorado first legalized marijuana in 2014. What began as bus tours with stops at various dispensaries and grow farms, however, has grown into something more extravagant and creative as more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Recently, cannabis tourism has even reached the high seas, with a number of “cannabis cruises” offering enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy their favorite plant and a nautical adventure at the same time.
Cannabis tourism is a simple concept with many variations: Essentially, it can involve any type of vacation activity where cannabis is a prime focus. In some cases, this could be as simple as staying in a cannabis-friendly hotel (like the Summit Recreational Retreat in Colorado, which offers daily “Chill Out” sessions). Cannabis yoga retreats have also become popular, while cannabis-and-wine tasting tours are now commonly found in regions like California’s Napa Valley (though this has not gone over well with some vineyard owners).
There’s no precise data available on the total number of cannabis tourists in America, but snapshots from individual states seem to suggest the trend is growing rapidly. In Colorado, for example, state records show that cannabis tourism grew 51 percent between 2014-2018 (to give some context, in 2017 the state attracted nearly 85 million tourists, though numbers were down the next year due to wildfires).
Cannabis cruises could help boost those numbers even higher — at least in water-adjacent states — but they have some issues to sort out first.
Cannabis cruises are a brand new phenomenon and, as such, the range of options (and the information about them) is somewhat limited. With that in mind, here’s what you should know about them:
So where can you find a cannabis cruise?
Right now, there are only two notable cannabis cruise operators in business.
In the United States, Cannabis Catered Events pioneered the idea with their “High Seas” concept, which launched in July with the help of Hustle and Hospitality Club. The cruise took place aboard a three-story yacht departing from Newport Beach, CA. The company hasn’t said when the next cruise will take place, nor how it will be priced.
In Canada, Windsor River Cruises and Border City Entertainment partnered up on a similar concept, though in this case the cruise was planned to take place on the Detroit River. Their inaugural September 2019 cruise attracted a huge amount of attention — according to CBC, more than 3,000 people said they were interested in attending after the event was posted on social media, and the $50 CAD tickets sold out in 48 hours.
SBut are cannabis cruises actually legal?
While it seems that the American cruise went off without a hitch, the same wasn’t true for the Canadian one. The event was canceled on September 11, nine days before its scheduled departure (full refunds were offered to everyone who bought tickets). After planning the event, the hosts learned that allowing smoking on the deck of a yacht is actually illegal. In Ontario, where the cruise was supposed to take place, this would have violated the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
Ontario has some of the strictest cannabis laws in Canada, with cannabis use of any kind being forbidden on boats or vehicles, even by passengers. It’s also forbidden to smoke or vape cannabis at outdoor sports and recreation establishments, sheltered public areas, or the patios of restaurants and bars.
How long is a cannabis cruise? (hint: it’s short)
The aborted effort from Windsor River Cruises was slated to be a three-hour BYOC (bring your own cannabis) party for adults only. The organizers were adamant that they would not be providing guests with cannabis — the company’s promotional manager told CBC, “We’re not selling. We’re not supplying anything,” — though they planned to have cannabis-free food and drinks for sale.
The High Seas cruise was a bit different. Guests enjoyed a four-course meal infused with CBD and THC, and various forms of cannabis were provided by the event’s sponsors (there were even gold bongs for decoration). Co-hosted by comedian Abdullah Saeed, who was the host of VICELAND’s “Bong Appétit” show until he resigned in protest over sexual harassment allegations against the company, it also featured entertainment from Jasmine Rose, DJ Joesh Savage, and others.