Colorado Will Not Promote Cannabis Tourism

Colorado state tourism officials made clear over the weekend that they will not promote the state's legal cannabis industry, though they do intend to provide information on how visitors may comply with cannabis law.

Cathy Ritter, who heads the Colorado Tourism Office, said that the promotion of cannabis tourism would run afoul of federal regulations.

"We're not in a position to promote marijuana because it would be a violation of federal law," she said in a recent interview. "Even if we cold promote marijuana, we wouldn't, because it's not a major driver for travelers."

Ritter's suggestion that cannabis is not a driver of tourism to Colorado is at odds with state data. A study commissioned by the Colorado Tourism Office early this year found that almost 49 percent of decisions made by tourists to visit Colorado were influenced by the state's cannabis laws.

Ritter went on to say that while cannabis tourists are flocking to The Centennial State, of greater concern is providing adequate information to such tourists once they arrive.

"I do believe we need to make it clear to our travelers what to expect when they come to a state where marijuana is legal," said Ritter. "I've had some hoteliers believe that their front desk clerks are paying the price because we do not share information with travelers about that.

"Because a lot of people, when they come to the state, are unaware that they can't smoke marijuana publicly; and so it's really more of an education program that's needed."

Ritter's call for more information for tourists is reflected in some of the problems that cannabis tourists have encountered in the state. The numbers of tourists who have been rushed to the ER in the past year due to actions possibly related to cannabis use have spiked in the past year, according to a report prepared by Northwestern University.

John Winston is a New York City-based journalist and a media advisor for