As Amsterdam bows out, what will be the new capital of cannabis tourism?

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Cannabis Tourism Trends

As Amsterdam takes a step back from its decades-long reign as the cannabis tourism capital, the question on everyone’s mind is: What’s the next hotspot for weed enthusiasts? Amsterdam’s new regulations restricting alcohol sales, early bar closures, and imposing fines for public marijuana smoking have signaled a shift in the city’s stance on cannabis tourism. Mayor Femke Halsema has voiced concerns about its negative impact on the city, citing increased crime and public disorder. She’s even proposed banning foreigners from Amsterdam’s famous cannabis cafés.

Since the Netherlands decriminalized cannabis back in 1976, it’s been a must-visit destination for cannabis aficionados. However, with these new policies in place, the global cannabis tourism industry, estimated to be worth a whopping $17 billion annually by Forbes, could undergo a significant transformation.

So, where might the new capital of cannabis tourism emerge? Well, leading the pack of potential successors to Amsterdam is none other than Thailand. This Asian nation, long known for its strict drug laws, made a significant pivot by legalizing cannabis use just last year. Now, it boasts thousands of dispensaries and is rapidly becoming a major cannabis destination. According to Michael O’Regan, a tourism lecturer at Scotland’s Caledonian University and an expert in marijuana tourism, Thailand’s current environment is incredibly welcoming to tourists with minimal restrictions on consumption. The country is not only attracting cannabis enthusiasts from across Asia but is also increasingly catching the eye of Europeans.

Popular Thai destinations like Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, and Chiang Mai have numerous shops where tourists can freely purchase cannabis. Interestingly, more than one million Thai residents have registered to grow cannabis legally. However, it’s worth noting that Thailand’s cannabis laws are quite complex, with legal products restricted to containing no more than 0.2 percent THC – a significantly lower level compared to the 35 percent THC found in California dispensaries.

Germany may also be in the running to join the cannabis tourism game if it decides to legalize the drug. However, Julius Arnegger from the German Institute for Tourism Research suggests that politicians in favor of cannabis liberalization are quick to clarify that there won’t be cannabis tourism as a result of the new law. They look to the Netherlands as a model to avoid, aiming to limit cannabis purchases to registered individuals in so-called cannabis clubs. This could make it challenging for international tourists to partake in cannabis consumption.

As for the rest of Europe, it seems unlikely that any city will rush to replicate Amsterdam’s experience, with O’Regan emphasizing that no city wants tourists flocking in for drug consumption. Barcelona, for example, employed a similar club model, but it led to a proliferation of clubs and recruiters approaching tourists to sell memberships, ultimately prompting a crackdown.

Africa is quietly developing a cannabis tourism scene, with South Africa leading the charge after decriminalizing cannabis use in private spaces in 2018. Tafadzwa Matiza, a tourism lecturer at North-West University, believes that South Africa’s cannabis tourism could become a major niche segment for the country. They’re exploring economic opportunities through the sale of hemp-based fabrics, clothing, and food products, and there’s a rising number of marijuana tours and “bud and breakfast” venues, offering both accommodation and legal cannabis.

In the Americas, cannabis tourism is also on the rise. States like Michigan, which is on track to exceed $3 billion in cannabis sales this year, offer an array of marijuana-themed accommodations, restaurants, and festivals. Canada and several U.S. states, including Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington, have embraced cannabis tourism. Looking ahead, cannabis tourism could see substantial growth in Costa Rica, Panama, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, as these countries have relaxed their marijuana laws in recent years.

As cannabis tourism expands, it’s essential for enthusiasts to do their homework. Researching where to safely purchase marijuana, understanding the rules regarding public smoking, and being aware of the potency of cannabis products are crucial. Disrespectful behavior by tourists poses a significant threat to the future of cannabis travel, as local laws and customs must always be respected. After all, a pleasant cannabis-themed holiday is far more appealing than finding oneself in legal trouble abroad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Cannabis Tourism Trends

What are the new regulations in Amsterdam affecting cannabis tourism?

Amsterdam has introduced new regulations that limit alcohol sales, require bars to close earlier, and impose a €100 fine for public marijuana smoking in its central tourist area. Additionally, there is a proposal to ban foreigners from cannabis cafés.

How has Amsterdam’s stance on cannabis tourism changed?

Amsterdam’s mayor, Femke Halsema, has expressed concerns about cannabis tourism, citing increased crime and public disorder. This has led to a shift in the city’s attitude toward the industry, moving away from its long-standing association with cannabis tourism.

Which countries are emerging as potential successors to Amsterdam in cannabis tourism?

Thailand is leading the way, having legalized cannabis use recently. It now boasts numerous dispensaries and is attracting cannabis tourists from both Asia and Europe. Other countries like South Africa, various states in the U.S., Canada, and several South American nations are also expanding their cannabis tourism offerings.

What are the challenges and complexities of cannabis tourism in Thailand?

While Thailand has embraced cannabis tourism, its laws are complex. Legal cannabis products in Thailand cannot contain more than 0.2 percent THC, which is significantly lower than what is available in some other destinations. Visitors should be aware of these restrictions and guidelines.

Is Germany likely to become a cannabis tourism destination?

Germany may potentially enter the cannabis tourism scene if it legalizes the drug. However, politicians are cautious about preventing cannabis tourism by restricting purchases to registered individuals in cannabis clubs, which could make it less accessible to international tourists.

Are there any concerns about the expansion of cannabis tourism?

Disrespectful behavior by tourists poses a significant concern. Tourists are urged to research local regulations, safe purchasing options, and the potency of products. Respecting local laws and customs is essential to ensure a positive cannabis tourism experience.

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