Cannabis tourism in Canada: The problems … and the potential

Elizabeth Becker, Founder and CEO of HiBnb, spoke at the New Heights Cannabis Tourism Summit on Oct. 25, 2021. Tom Tkach Photography.

Weekend trips to wine country, craft brewery tours… even cigar-lovers can combine their tobacco passion with travel. But when it comes to cannabis tourism, even the most savvy traveller still faces challenges.

Here are three common problems cannabis enthusiasts encounter when trying to add a little leafy green to any travel itinerary.

1. The problem: Cannabis is legal, so why am I still smoking in a dark alley?

When you’re at home you can light a spliff in your living room, but when you’re travelling it’s a lot harder to find a comfortable, legal place to smoke cannabis. Many hotels and vacation rentals are non-smoking, and balconies can be risky if the neighbours complain. Municipal, provincial and federal laws are all different too, so you’ll need to read-up before smoking in a park, on a sidewalk or on a patio.

“It’s almost like it’s ‘half legal.’ Legal to purchase, but there’s nowhere where you can consume it — smoke it — publicly,” said Elizabeth Becker, Founder and CEO of HiBnb, at the recent New Heights Cannabis Tourism Summit.

One solution is to search for 420-friendly accommodations, where your host can fill you in on local laws and also help you feel welcome.

“In terms of what the guest is looking for, they want safe and welcoming accommodation and they want to be with like-minded people,” said Becker, whose site HiBnb offers travellers a selection of places to stay and play high.

2. The problem: Finding the perfect dispensary in a new city.

Thanks to legalization, the closest cannabis dispensary is just an internet search away. But is it the best?

Tasting local foods, trying local breweries and exploring local shops are all part of the travel experience — it’s not that you don’t have food, beer or clothing stores back home, it’s that stores at your destination offer a different perspective. Picking up local cannabis products should be just as fun.

There are a few websites offering user-generated reviews of dispensaries, and sites like HiBnb are also connecting travellers with local hosts who can make personalized recommendations. Let them know if you’re looking for grab-and-go, a broad wide selection, cosy atmosphere or budtender wisdom, and they’ll tell you where to shop.

3. The problem: Finding safe, welcoming cannabis social events.

Amsterdam has historically been the pinnacle of cannabis tourism, and that’s not just because weed has long been decriminalized there. It’s also because there are opportunities to connect with other cannabis enthusiasts.

Canada can become a cannabis tourism destination by developing opportunities to celebrate cannabis culture with ‘infused’ events. Yoga, paint nights, meditation, hiking, movies, singles meet-ups, cooking classes and other events can all be presented with a cannabis twist.

“I’ve always been a cannabis advocate,” Becker said at the conference. “What cannabis has done for me is help me connect with myself on a deeper level, but more than that, help me connect with other people on a deeper level.”

In HiBnb’s ‘Play Hi’ database, you can browse cannabis-friendly events at home, or at your vacation destination, to connect with other cannabis enthusiasts.

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