Comrades, it’s all gone to pot so you may as well try a pot vacation.
Pot, weed, marijuana, cannabis, herb, 420, mary jane, ganja, call it what you will, it’s been used medicinally in China, Ancient Egypt, India, Greece and Ancient Netherlands since before 2000 BC. It’s known to heal many ailments from tapeworm to sore eyes, and only recently okayed to be used in a healing way again in most of the western world.
Cannabis is one of the 50 fundamental herbs in Chinese medicine. And is recommended for 120 different forms of disease. Maybe it’s the great herb that can heal the planet after all.
As more countries legalize it, trip related lodging — and that pun was unintended — and where one can acceptably partake, is a growing industry. No need to go score from the strange cat outside the bus station anymore, or hide in a bush having a smoke.
So where can you and where can’t you check in and check out? Here’s a mini global guide….
Weed vacations will mostly be enjoyed in nature, which will help you reconnect with your inner sanctum and/or the earth. Whether it’s becoming one with a mountain in Colorado or lounging in the waters off Uruguay. Which are not bad ideas, by the way.
Usually, the Indica strain will have the effect of grounding you. Better in the evenings. You only need a small puff or two off a joint if you want to smoke it, and if you’re a novice I’d recommend staying far away from a bong, for many reasons.
The sativa strain will more likely energize you, and is better in the daytime. Edibles take longer to have an effect, approximately 30 minutes, and are harder to dose, easier to overdose (which should only have the effect of making you very relaxed). Not a bad thing. But don’t drive — traffic accidents have increased in all the US States that have recreationalized their toking laws, which, I know, is fodder for the anti-legalization tribe.
If you’re revisiting your pot days it’s not the same as it was in the free-loving ’60s. Or 70s. Not to age you. It’s much stronger now. Cross-pollination has made some intense strains. Be warned! Go easy and it’ll practically be guaranteed fun and definitely a trip! As with any herbal medicines also check with your doctor if you’re on pharmaceutical drugs/prescription medication. Seriously. Don’t skip this step. If you do and something goes wrong, don’t come crying to us.
And for maximum enjoyment, and safety, don’t drink alcohol beforehand.
Traveling with pot is not recommended. Especially internationally. Just don’t do it.
In some airports, you may end up in a nightmare Midnight Express situation (which is an amazing film by the way!) And BTW, you can be thrown in jail for four years passing through Dubai found with an old half smoked roach stuck in your suitcase lining, and in the Philippines you can be sentenced to death. Which, I dunno, seems harsh.
We wouldn’t want that, so before flying internationally don’t be too stoned to check your pockets.
So you’ve found your pot-friendly country, where are you going to stay? Realizing the issue with no smoking (of anything) laws in traditional hotels was counterintuitive to the new, more liberal laws passing, Bud and Breakfast started up and is the Airbnb of weed vacations. They are slowly expanding globally and offer the comfort of booking a locale online, where you will most likely be welcomed with a joint or an edible (beats a diluted rum punch!). They offer different types of weed-friendly experiences, offering rooms, inns, lodges, and cabins from Uruguay to Jamaica, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Spain and more.
Legal since the 1970s. Amsterdam alone has around 250 coffee shops where you can roll up and smoke in peace, or eat a space cake. But you’ll get a fine for smoking in public — a lot of people don’t know that.
For the full Amsterdam experience, we recommend staying on a houseboat. Houseboats are available usually for up to 4 people for around $150 per night. If that’s not your thing, lofts and apartments are available on land too from $100/night. Which are amazing prices for unique experiences.
Thirty percent of the population apparently partakes of the herb. It’s not legal to smoke in public but in private is fine.
If you’re passing through the major cities such as Barcelona, Madrid or Valencia, you’ll come across the cannabis clubs. Although you’re supposed to be a Spanish resident to join, often if you fill in a few papers you can get in, or apply online beforehand (it can take up to two weeks for a response). You could also ask a friendly local to invite you in with temporary membership (that’s more immediate). There are over 700 cannabis clubs across Spain.
The Choko Club in Barcelona is the well-known cannabis club and art gallery, with, not surprisingly, a comfortable Bohemian vibe, where you can chill, have some tapas and work or just relax.
Since September, weed is now legal to be used or grown privately. Our favorite location? Cape Town. Just go there! Work it out for yourself where to stay, the city is magical.
Despite all the pot culture/mythology of this Caribbean island, it has actually been illegal here. Ganja became legal in Jamaica only recently, in 2015. Rastafarians have used it in religious ceremonies for almost 100 years, to get closer to God, themselves and/or the universe. And they are very dedicated to those pursuits.
Kaya Farms is the place to go in Jamaica for a complete experience. They focus on health and wellness tourism, and have a spa, a cafe and do tours. Bring your medical marijuana certificate from the US if you have one, otherwise they provide an on-site doctor who can give you the certification you need to purchase it anywhere in Jamaica legally. You may need to make an appointment, but just telling the doctor that you have anxiety or stress will do the trick — and who doesn’t?! Maybe George Clooney doesn’t…
If you can’t make it to Kaya Farm, many a local grows it, so you shouldn’t have any issue obtaining the magic weed. I mean, it wasn’t historically that difficult anyway. Just illegal.
Across Jamaica, we recommend staying at any one of the places here. But there’s also Jamaica Inn in Ocho Rios, the IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Rose Hall, and Half Moon Jamaica — all superb destinations. Jamaica used to have generally awful accommodations but has significantly improved its hotel offerings in the last couple of decades.
As you may know, our Northern neighbors just legalized it. They have differing rules for each province. Quebec you can smoke anywhere you can smoke tobacco. In Ontario you can only purchase weed online via their government website, and in Saskatchewan, you can walk into a store and buy it.
However progressive Vancouver has had coffee shops ala Amsterdam for a while now where you can sit and smoke it.
We’ll check back with Canada later…
Smoking is common in India although not exactly legal. It is grown in the lower Himalaya around Manali. The Sadhus (India’s Holy men) have enjoyed its benefits for centuries and make it a part of their rituals.
If you’re not a huge adventurist but still want some kind of an Indian adventure, go to Goa, south of Mumbai, on The Arabian Sea. It’s unlike the rest of India and was traditionally primarily Catholic, i.e. more western, having become a part of the Portuguese trading route in 1524. Catholic churches still sit alongside Hindu temples in complete harmony.
Goa has distinctive white sand coves with shaded palm trees, fresh coconuts, warm sweet incensed air drifting, Portuguese villas to rent, wild monkeys, dust and really good seafood. Goan coconut fish curry is a specialty. High season is November to mid-February. So anytime before or after that is the best time to go, in my humble opinion.
Whilst still illegal, there is a large cultivation here for export so the local police tend to turn a blind eye towards consumption, plus there are a whole range of pizza restaurants that sell ‘happy pizza’ cooked with cannabis, so go figure.
Legal medically and not punishable for private use, you can carry up to eight grams. Cannabis oil is readily available in the eco markets, although the locals munch on coca leaves and drink coca tea to energize, anesthetize and acclimatize; you’ll most likely be buying pot on the black market, so trust your sources, but if you’re caught with two types of drugs, you’ll be deemed a dealer and thrown in Peruvian jail for at least three years. [Cue Midnight Express heart racing theme music]
Legalized consumption and possession 2013/2014 if you’re a resident, so befriend a local! Which you should anyway! Marijuana is known as porro here, is widely used in the country, and locals can grow up to six plants.
It’s legal to buy and it grows in the wild. It’s called yoksam. It’s legal to smoke in public and in private. With that at least there’s never been an issue. Maybe they do have at least one thing right….
On the off chance you find yourself in North Korea, go the full hog and enjoy what the country has to offer! Which is surprisingly a lot.
The US of A
Marijuana now has been legalized for medical use in some 33 states and climbing, and recreationally in Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, Nevada, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington DC. (where they’ve been smoking something for two centuries), Vermont and Michigan. And it seems to be changing by the minute. Are more people waking up? I’m not judging either way but one would hope so (she says judgingly).
Colorado — America’s recreational legalization revolution started here, in January 2014. Larger hotels and lodges are now seeing the need for smoke-friendly spaces and are catering to the 420 crowds, somewhat. Check with your hotel prior to booking.
In Denver there are twice as many dispensaries as Starbux, so you won’t run short, one would hope. The marijuana friendly Adagio Hotel launched in 2014 has seen an average guest age of between 50-75 with people mainly arriving from Japan, New Zealand, and the UK. Rooms are $300 and up per night and they also offer massages using cannabis-infused oils for maximum healing potential.
Colorado Cannabis Tours offer other options for pot-friendly lodgings in Denver, Las Vegas and California.
Colorado’s snow destinations Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Telluride, Vail and Aspen also have plenty of dispensaries to choose from, and hotels will arrange a stop off on the way back from the airport so you can stock up! They do a large trade in pre-rolled joints, maybe because it’s really very hard to roll a joint with ski gloves on, so pack a pre-roll prior to hitting the slopes, or take an edible. Or a pocketful. We’re not recommending skiing too stoned or anything, of course. You know your level of mellow.
Portland, Oregon — the land of large naked cycling events held the first “Int’l Cannabis Business Conference” in 2014. They have nothing whatsoever to do with each other. Yet.
California — recreational usage legal since January 2018.
Californians have had their fair share of issues with smoke in general, so this could be a moving fad. Maybe more of an edibles market, and there are plenty to choose from, from cheesy fish to tinctures, to sodas, to muffins and cookies in different varieties, to gummy bears (!), to chocolate bars in a dizzying array of potencies and flavors, and all can be delivered mostly anywhere, even at three in the morning. Good to know, right?
The 420 Friendly Boutique Hotel in West Hollywood has a comfortable roof deck for smoking and is close to shopping, restaurants, strolling and people watching.
The Standard Hotels in downtown and West Hollywood now offer luxury cannabis jellies in their mini-bars, courtesy of hip LA brand Lord Jones, and are soon rumored to be housing a dispensary. Sleep well!
Hawaii — the Hawaiians have always been known to be laid back. Weed is known as pakalolo locally. I decided a long time ago that they were large cultivators after visiting in the 1990’s I was told that there were hill growing plantations, and if you went up there, gunmen would appear. The fields were all heavily guarded, protected by generations of families of growers. Maybe they’re not so laid back after all.
Massachusetts — comes up the highest amount of times on internet searches for cannabis tourism, so we’ll expect to see a growth in tourism there! Newly minted legal state.
Nevada — made over $200 million in cannabis sales in its first six months of recreational usage in 2017. Maybe now somebody will go to Las Vegas…
Alaska — Go and see the Northern Lights high. But there’s a big fine for smoking in a National Park! And remember, wherever you are in Alaska, there’s a very big chance you’re in a National park…