Victor Skinner’s article Making Green: The economic impact of recreational marijuana Up North from the Northern Express is an excellent, in-depth exploration of the rise of cannabis dispensaries, events, and social consumption lounges and the beginnings of cannabis tourism in northwest Michigan:
…as the retail sales move into a more competitive stage, other aspects of the marijuana industry are only beginning to bud, and the success of more tourism-focused ventures like smoking tours or culinary partnerships will hinge in large part on integrating into the region’s broader tourism community.
The Michigan Cannabis Hospitality Industry Growth Organization published a report on tourism in 2021 that showed marijuana-friendly lodging “is the number one thing people didn’t see enough of,” says Lisa Liberman, the group’s chair. “The second one was events,” she adds.
…Traverse City Tourism Chief Operating Officer Whitney Waara is working with an international cannabis task force to promote best practices in the industry, but the illegality of marijuana under federal law poses challenges for marketing.
Pairing cannabis with culinary experiences, bud and breakfasts, marijuana-themed outdoor adventures, and integrating the industry into other events like beer festivals are exciting possibilities, Waara says, but tourism officials in Traverse City and elsewhere are proceeding with caution.
“We’re not taking on any big ads to say come here to do these things,” she says. “A lot of the visitor bureaus in the state are having conversations and talking about this, but they’re real cautious. This is a huge industry with a huge economic impact in the long term, and we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg on that.”
Tim Riley, chairman of the Manistee County Visitors Bureau, offered a similar assessment. “It’s something the organization is starting to talk about and look into,” Riley says. “I think the members of our organization see new business as an asset to our area.”