DURANGO, CO — Tourism is up in Colorado, and it’s not just because of the mountains and all the recreational opportunities. A new study finds recreational marijuana is also helping people decide to visit Colorado.
The data are all new.
“We are starting from scratch. Everything we are learning is a contribution to the body of knowledge on what’s happening with recreational marijuana,” said Prof. Lorraine Taylor, of Ft. Lewis College.
For the last two years, Taylor and her students have been surveying owners of recreational marijuana shops and customers. Owners say the industry is challenging.
“On one hand, owners are constantly making adjustments because of changing regulations almost monthly. On the other hand, they see that as a good thing. It is fairly Darwinian, survival of the fittest, and there are fewer shops opening because there are so many barriers to entry,” said Taylor.
They asked locals who were buying weed what drew them to a specific store.
“They were choosing to go to the shop, choose to spend money, additional money and taxes because they want to purchase a safe product that has been tested,” she said.
Those locals said they chose shops based on word-of-mouth. Tourists though, said they weren’t visiting just for a legal high.
“They are still coming to Colorado to do the recreational activity and then being able to purchase legal marijuana is icing on the cake,” she said.
Taylor’s study has a second phase to start soon and last about another year. But even when that is done, she has more planned to learn.
“We still don’t know a lot of things about tourists in terms of their spending and the bigger impact on communities while they are here,” Taylor said.