Pot Tourism is Growing But Some Destinations Still Take a Sober Approach – Skift

Some 82.4 million travelers visited Colorado in 2016, two years after the state became the first to legalize marijuana. Colorado Tourism conducted a survey in 2016 that found 15 percent of those visitors (about 12 million) participated in a marijuana-related activity, and 5 percent reported it as a motivation for their trip.

That number of pot loving tourists for 2016 in Colorado is more than most U.S. states’ — and many countries’ — annual visitor totals.

Colorado’s experience underscores just how much pot is a growing sector of the travel industry, as more U.S. states and countries legalize marijuana. Whether it’s visiting a dispensary, taking a cannabis tour, or kicking back at a pot lounge or coffee shop, weed is a big draw.

Still, many companies and organizations have yet to embrace pot tourism due to the legal uncertainties and sensitivities around the issue.

The U.S. Department of Justice said earlier this year that it’s considering challenging some state marijuana legalization laws. But U.S. Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado said on Friday that President Donald Trump is backing down from potential challenges, according to Politico.

Denver, Colorado, is a particular hotbed for pot tourism. Earlier this month, the city asked cannabis tour operators to apply for a designated consumption area license.

Some tour operators like CannabisTours.com, a Denver-based company founded in January, 2014, that has expanded to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, and Washington, D.C. where pot has been legalized, said the new license is the latest example of a crackdown on pot tourism, said Mike Eymer, CEO and founder of CannabisTours.com. Eymer also founded and runs Colorado Cannabis Tours.

Eymer said he learned of the license last week, which was voted on last year and would require small businesses to obtain a license to consume cannabis in public places. “It requires you to have a brick and mortar building for where the consumption occurs,” said Eymer. “Could you imagine a city cannabis tour where you smoke weed in a brick building, and then get on a bus and you’re not allowed to smoke anything?”

The Colorado Tourism Office and Visit Denver, the tourism boards for the state and city, respectively, also haven’t done much to support pot tourism businesses, said Eymer.

“We are fought, ignored, and treated like a red-headed stepchild,” said Eymer. “My competitors and my company have become Denver’s largest tourist attractions but we are forced to defend ourselves and comply with regulations that simply wouldn’t fit our business models.”

“We help fund these organizations through taxes,” Eymer added.

Interest has increased for pot tourism in Colorado. When the tourism board asked visitors if they had visited a pot dispensary in 2015 (the 2016 question gave multiple options for marijuana activities), 11 percent of visitors said they visited a dispensary, and 4 percent said it was a motivation for their trip.

Many destinations haven’t started to track the economic impact of pot tourism, but Colorado’s overall marijuana industry was about $2.4 billion in 2015, the most recent year data is available, according to Colorado-based Marijuana Policy Group, which analyzes the economic impact of marijuana legalization.

“We are a 109-year-old destination marketing organization tasked with promoting Denver to convention and leisure travelers around the world whereas the recreational marijuana industry has been in existence legally in Colorado for just over four years and is still evolving,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver.

Colorado Tourism said state law prevents them from advertising to out-of-state tourists who live in areas where pot is illegal, said Cathy Ritter, director of Colorado Tourism Office.

The tourism board has no plans to promote pot tourism, said Ritter. Although its website links to a Colorado government site that gives marijuana health and safety information but doesn’t have tourism information.

“To advertise on the internet, retail marijuana establishments must have reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the audience is expected to be under the age of 21,” said Ritter.

“The Colorado Tourism Office does not have sufficient evidence about the age of its website users, hence we would possibly be aiding retail marijuana establishments in violating this regulation,” said Ritter.

Tripadvisor Sidesteps Cannabis tours and activities

TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest trip-planning platforms which millions of travelers use to plan trips, doesn’t feature many cannabis tours and activities or these tours don’t have prominent placement in search results.

TripAdvisor did not respond to Skift’s request for comment.

Green Star Excursions is one of the only cannabis tour operators with a page on TripAdvisor. Eymer said TripAdvisor used to include cannabis tours and activities on its sites but changed its internal policy to remove many cannabis related pages.

“We used to have a listing on TripAdvisor but they didn’t want to get involved in that market,” said Eymer. “That also applies to Viator. We also had listed on Viator but those were taken down.”

A quick Viator search for cannabis tours yielded about 20 results, but mostly for tours and activities in Amsterdam.

Eymer and other cannabis tour operators invest in social media and rely on word of mouth to promote their tours. Like Colorado Tourism, Eymer said he can’t do digital advertising. “We’re very easy to find,” he said. “We can’t pay for Google advertising but we can be the best resource for cannabis tourism that people are looking for.”

Promoting Pot Tourism

In the United States, nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana as of 2018. Nine countries including Chile, South Africa, and Spain have partially or fully legalized the drug and about two-dozen others have decriminalized it.

Many other destinations have legalized medical marijuana.

The Netherlands became the first country to partially legalize marijuana in 1976, and the Dutch parliament voted last year to legalize marijuana cultivation.

The Netherlands also recently launched an experiment with 10 Dutch cities to sell state-owned marijuana in coffee shops, meant to tackle the dark side of the marijuana supply.

But Amsterdam hasn’t joined yet, said Sebastiaan Meijer, a spokesperson for the City of Amsterdam. “We’re in the middle of talks for how to make this work,” he said. “Amsterdam has been thinking about joining but I think it would only work if all coffee shops joined within one municipality. We have more than 160 coffee shops.”

Amsterdam hasn’t made it a policy to market pot tourism, but it doesn’t shy away from it, said Meijer. “People around the world have been marketing it themselves,” he said. “Increasingly Asian tourists are also aware of Amsterdam’s liberal pot policies.”

Meijer said the city surveyed visitors in 2016 about why they visited. “Some of those people say smoking pot is a reason to come but they combine it with visiting a museum,” he said.

Amsterdam isn’t concerned about other destinations legalizing pot and taking away visitor market share from the city, said Meijer. “We think tourism, in general, will be growing much faster than we thought and probably more than we need it to.”

Ongoing Uncertainty

Many destinations where pot has been legalized in recent years, such as Alaska, California, and Nevada are struggling with how to balance concerns from local politicians and residents with a potential multi-million dollar tourism sector.

Bethany Drysdale, a spokesperson for Travel Nevada, the state’s tourism board, compared pot to gaming in the state. “People don’t come to Nevada just for gaming anymore as gaming is now legal in many other states,” she said. “People won’t come here just for marijuana. Colorado is surrounded by states where it wasn’t legal and it made a lot of sense for them to capitalize on it.”

Nevada is currently surveying visitors about their recreational pot use while in the state. “If we’re surprised by what we find, we might have to incorporate that into our marketing,” said Drysdale. “But I don’t think we’ll change our marketing.”

Los Angeles, Anaheim, California, and Alaska tourism officials also said they don’t plan to promote pot tourism.

Canada is set to legalize marijuana in July, but Montreal doesn’t plan to promote pot tourism once proper infrastructure is in place. “There are still a number of unknowns,” said Andrée-Anne Pelletier, a spokesperson for Tourisme Montréal, the city’s tourism board. “Beyond that, we typically promote Montréal from a more holistic perspective.”

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Las Vegas Lights become first professional sports team in U.S. to partner with marijuana dispensary

The Las Vegas Lights of the United Soccer League became the first professional sports team in the United States to partner with a marijuana dispensary last week. 

The Las Vegas Lights signed a deal with the Paiute tribe to promote the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace at their stadium this season. Recreational marijuana has been sold in Nevada since July 2017.

The Lights are an expansion team that joined the United Soccer League this year.

— Jamie Goldberg | jgoldberg@oregonian.com

503-853-3761 | @jamiebgoldberg

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Senator says Trump pledged legal pot business won’t be affected by DOJ stance

The Cole memo that Sessions rescinded in January had directed Department of Justice prosecutors to deprioritize crackdowns on large-scale marijuana business operators in states where they’ve been sanctioned. Gardner reacted by blocking nominees for DOJ positions, he said.

Gardner said Friday that he’s agreed to step out of the way of the rest of the nominees as part of his negotiation with Trump.

“Since the campaign, President Trump has consistently supported states’ rights to decide for themselves how best to approach marijuana,” Gardner said. “Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the president that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.”


Sessions has a long history of opposition to the use of marijuana. Despite laws passed in states that legalize recreational use of the drug, it remains illegal under federal law.

Colorado legalized medical marijuana use in 2010, voters approved recreational use of marijuana in 2012 and the first recreational sales began in 2014. The state says it collected more than $247 million in taxes and fees on retail and medical marijuana last year.

Eight states — Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — have approved laws allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, although recreational sales have not yet begun in all of those states.

 Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in 2017, said the president had agreed to support “a federalism-based legislative solution” to the states’ rights issue of legalized marijuana. Rick Wilking / Reuters file

Vermont’s governor in late January signed a bill into law that would authorize the recreational use of marijuana in the state, but it does not contain a mechanism for the taxation or sale of marijuana, The Associated Press reported. The legislature is expected to develop a system.

The president’s reported move comes as a number of Republicans have opened their hearts to the Schedule I substance.

Former Speaker John A. Boehner said this month that he is joining an advisory board for a cannabis company, Acreage Holdings. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said in a tweet that “my thinking on cannabis has evolved.”

Last month Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, expressed support for legalized hemp, which is a cousin of marijuana and contains a negligible amount of THC, the psychoactive compound that gets pot users high, but cultivation of which is banned under federal law.

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A group of Nevada based Entrepreneurs are set to release Green Gold, a raw docu-series that captures a behind the scenes look at Nevada’s Marijuana Industry and the surrounding corruption that continues to plague the tourist destination. The director, Nathaniel Turner paints a vivid picture of the pursuit of the new-age American Dream as he fights through the politics and corruption in this booming yet premature industry.

Green Gold captures the preliminary stages of a local Las Vegas medical marijuana dispensary while simultaneously following the road to protecting locals 2nd Amendment right as it pertains to the use of recreational marijuana and right to bare arms, which is federally prohibited. The Documentary also covers the operations along with the research and business development of the company from the initial licensing purchase to the influencing politics in the cities nightlife.

Turner also reveals his current court proceedings with Jody A Ghanem (widow of Famed Doctor Elias Ghanem Sr.) under Clark County’s Ghanem vs. Wellness Connection of Nevada LLC to protect their interest in the local dispensary, which prior to a regulatory board being put in place to oversee these transactions, has affected their ownership percentage owed to them from a 2015 purchase.

As Green Gold continues to garner attention from film industry executives, Turner plans on releasing the docu-series at film festivals throughout the country within the year.

About the Green Gold Docu-series

Tales of Greed, Extortion, and a new tantalizing industry that is causing a series of newly implemented regulations, Green Gold uncovers the journey of a dispensaries’ licensing acquisition and determination to open its doors. Las Vegas proves to be open to anything as long as it helps to maintain its crown as entertainment capital of the world. We watch as director, Nathaniel Turner, pursues the new American Dream amidst his legal battle for his ownership in a local dispensary. In addition, as Las Vegas redefines the purity and potency of the golden standard of marijuana along with the way it’s delivered to the consumer, they finalize their introduction of ‘jar service’ being the nations first prominent cannabis consumption lounge.

Media Contact
Company Name: Green Gold Docu-series
Contact Person: Media Manager
Email: Send Email
City: Las Vegas
State: Nevada
Country: United States
Website: https://headlineplus.com/marijuana-entrepreneurs-film-documentary-of-corruption-in-las-vegas-marijuana-industry-amidst-legal-battle/

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Las Vegas Lights partner with marijuana dispensary

A new category of sponsorship was sold by a U.S. sports team for the first time on Friday: team marijuana dispensary.

The Las Vegas Lights, an expansion team in the United Soccer League, signed a deal with the local Paiute tribe to allow them to promote the NuWu Cannabis Marketplace at the team’s stadium, Cashman Field, which it shares with the New York Mets Triple-A franchise, the Las Vegas 51s.

At 15,800 square feet, the marketplace is the largest marijuana dispensary in the world and sells both medicinal and recreational marijuana to more than 1,000 people a day, said Chris Spotted Eagle, the vice chairman of the tribe. The dispensary also has a 24-hour drive-thru.

“We love Las Vegas, and we’re not embarrassed to support any business here,” said Brett Lashbrook, whose USL team wears jerseys sponsored by Zappos.com — which has played a major role in Las Vegas revitalization — and shorts branded with the logo of the local Plaza Hotel & Casino.

“This is the right time and the right market to do this, and we’re not going to hide. We think this will be part of the destigmatization of this substance and business. This isn’t some shady guys walking around with hoods over their heads. This shop is closer to an Apple Store.”

Because of federal laws about marijuana advertising to children, the team has to be careful as to what it can promote inside the stadium, but Lashbrook said he anticipates the partnership will include a branded marijuana inside the dispensary.

Spotted Eagle also said Las Vegas Lights paraphernalia is not out of the question.

Recreational marijuana sales began in Nevada in July 2017, and in the first six months the state pulled in $30 million in tax revenue from almost $200 million in gross marijuana sales.

Spotted Eagle said his tribe made a deal with the state to charge the excise tax on the marijuana product to prevent them from turning into a monopoly, but that the tax revenue goes back to the tribe as part of the federally negotiated Native American treaty.

The Las Vegas Lights began their inaugural season in the second-division USL last month. On Thursday, the club told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that former phenom Freddy Adu would make his debut on Saturday against the Sacramento Republic.

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The Best 4/20 Events in Major Cannabis Markets

2018’s been a big year in the cannabis space—January 1st marked California’s enormous jump into adult-use legalization and a surge in cannabis reformation is spreading across the United States. With a boost in cannabis acceptance as the years go by, 4/20 events are getting bigger and better than ever. From massive concerts to THC-infused yoga, major legal markets are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to celebrating our favorite medicinal plant.

So hop over to our dispensary finder, pick out a few favorite strains, and make your way to the closest 4/20 event to join in on the celebration. Luckily, 4/20 lands on a Friday, so events are happening all weekend long.

*Note: Listed below are a few offerings per market—check your local events calendars for even more infused celebrations.



Arizona 420 Events 2018

Smoke Fest  

Live music, delicious food trucks, cool swag bags, and more wait for you at Go4Twenty’s annual Smoke Fest sponsored by Arizona Organix.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: Eddie’s Lounge in Glendale
  • Cost: Free
  • Admittance: 18+ event with 21+ bar service

420 Green Gala: Super Troopers Edition

The team that brought you Super Troopers syncs up with Timeless Vapes for a night of live music, near endless vendors, and hilarious comedy.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: The Venue Scottsdale in Scottsdale
  • Cost: Free
  • Admittance: 21+ with valid MMJ card

Vapen Clear’s Clearly Baked

It’s going to be a wild night with Vapen Clear as they release a new line of edibles to the tune of fire artists, live mermaids, dab stations, and more on every floor.

Buds & Brushes

Looking for a chill event to celebrate your 4/20? Check out Buds & Brushes from Arte Bella Painting and get creative with cannabis.

  • When: April 21
  • Where: 420 Social Club in Tuscon
  • Cost: $25
  • Admittance: 21+ with valid MMJ card

Stoner Jordan Smoke Out

Enjoy music by Stoner Jordan at the second annual Smoke Out hosted by DJ Michael FoXx & Fangz.

  • When: April 20–21
  • Where: Rogue Bar in Scottsdale
  • Cost: $20–25
  • Admittance: 21+

Northern California 420 Events 2018

Hippie Hill

Share your love of cannabis with thousands at San Francisco’s huge 420 Hippie Hill event. It’ll be the largest gathering yet as California navigates its first year of adult-use legalization. 

Berner Presents Hippie Hill

Berner, 2 Chainz, and Trippie Redd are among the artists kicking off a spectacular 4/20 concert juxtaposing the annual Hippie Hill event.

Puff, Pass, Paint

California Cannabis Tours is mixing art and cannabis with the original Puff, Pass, Paint event.

  • When: April 19-21
  • Where: Mandela Parkway in Oakland
  • Cost: $39
  • Admittance: 21+          

Restorative Ganja Yoga

Yoga and cannabis are the perfect match. Even better? Yoga, cannabis, and relaxing massage. Take 4/20 in a different direction with this calming event.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: Vanaspati Yoga in Cambria
  • Cost: $40
  • Admittance: 21+

Hella 420

Exhale Smoke Shop boasts the “only recreational cannabis event” in Sacramento. Check out this event’s live glass blowing, complimentary bar, free food, and dab bar.

Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke 40th Anniversary

Celebrate 4/20 with this ultimate stoner classic. 

Southern California 420 Events 2018

SoCal Cannabis Cup

Lil Wayne and Nas are among the talent at the highly anticipated Cannabis Cup—one of the largest cannabis events of the year.

Palm Springs Cannabis Film Fest

This cannabis infused film fest packs a punch with educational, entertaining, and thoughtful films providing hours of cannabis insights. 

  • When: April 20–22
  • Where: Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs
  • Cost: $15–249
  • Admittance: All ages

BAYKED by the Bay

Wyclef Jean headlines the first BAYKED by the Bay event alongside delicious eats, a stunning San Diego sunset, and the opportunity to raise money for the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego.

Into the Light: A Stoned Yoga Experience

Music, yoga, and meditation highlight the first part of this unique cannabis experience, followed by cannabis infused dancing, karaoke, clairvoyants, and much more.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: NAVEL in Los Angeles
  • Cost: $30–70
  • Admittance: 21+

Up in Smoke Burlesque

Get a little hot and bothered with a full cannabis-themed show at the famous Havelle’s Long Beach.

Colorado 420 Events 2018

Snoop Dogg’s 420 Wellness Retreat

Rep your cannabis love by celebrating with the weed king himself. Snoop Dogg, Migos, and Lil Pump take the stage and pay tribute to 4/20. 

420 On The Block

A 420-inspired music festival bringing cannabis advocates and lovers together. Check out the 420 Bazaar and participate in the 420 Challenge for a chance to win $5,000 in prizes.

Colorado Springs 420 Fest & Tattoo Art Expo

Cannabis and creativity collide at this massive event showcasing excellent tattoos, live music, and gorgeous art with over 50 cannabis vendors to boot. 

Mile High 420 Festival

Lil Wayne and Lil Jon headline this gigantic free cannabis event in downtown Denver. Bring a joint or two (or three) and get in on the celebrations all day long.

Michigan 420 Events 2018 

G3C 10th Annual 420 Celebtration

The Genessee County Compassion Club is holding their annual 420 bash complete with door prizes, glass blowing, and a ping pong tournament among the 420-inspired activites. 

The Detroit 420

Start your 4/20 off right with an infused brunch followed by hourly cannabis specials leading to an infused dinner. Win prizes and witness a human jenga tournament.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: 13501 Auburn St. in Detroit
  • Cost: $20–50
  • Admittance: 21+

Dead Again’s Annual 420 Bash

Celebrate 420 with the smashing Grateful Dead tribute band Dead Again. 

  • When: April 21
  • Where: The Magic Bag in Ferndale
  • Cost: $15–20
  • Admittance: 21+

Nevada 420 Events 2018

420 Roll It Up

Pre-party and after-party sandwich an incredible music experience featuring Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill (ft. Mixmaster Mike), and Baby Bash. 

Tribal Theory 420

Celebrate 4/20 with ‘urban reggae’ band Tribal Theory. Their island sound infused with rock beats and R&B brings the perfect sound to a stony night. 

High in the Sky Expo & Festival

Enjoy sunny Las Vegas weather with a favorite edible beforehand at the gorgeous Desert Pines boasting live music, after party, art, and local Nevada vendors.

Bloom: 420 Industry Party

Cannabis industry professionals and a line-up of cool musical acts await you at this 420 industry party.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: Xhale in Stateline     
  • Cost: $10
  • Admittance: 21+

Oregon 420 Events 2018 

Two Flowers CBD Beer fest

420 isn’t only about THC—get a buzz going with delicious CBD-infused beers at this unique 420 beer fest.

Up In Tokes

Love dressing up for any and every holiday? Don’t make 4/20 an exception and get ready for a cannabis-themed costume contest with multiple prizes, live music, and giveaways at Howiees On Front.

4.20 Celebration ft. ExMag

Brought to you by Select Oil, spend your 4/20 getting down to jazz and funk with ExMag.

Stoned to the Drone: PAZ 4/20

Experience all kinds of new music and experimental beats at PAZ PDX.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: PAZ PDX in Portland
  • Cost: Free
  • Admittance: 21+

Cuddle Jam: Temple Cuddle Party & Music Jam

CompassRose Traveling Temple is coming to Hillsboro to bring you an event steeped in healing touch, chill beats, and meditation.

Washington 420 Events 2018

The Gateway Show

From Ivan Decker to Rachel Walls, light up a joint and laugh your heart out with this 420-inspired comedy show.

Cucci’s Spooky Weed

Check out the ultimate stoner drag show with Angel Baby Kill Kill Kill, Cookie Couture, and Terrie Belle among other talented acts.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: Kremwerk in Seattle
  • Cost: $4.20–6.66
  • Admittance: 21+

The Dope Show

Light up your favorite giggly strains before heading into the Historic Everett Theatre for a hilarious show presented by Tyler Smith.

Whiz Khalifa 420 in Tri-Cities

Sponsored by Washington cannabis companies like Lucky Leaf and Royals Cannabis, check out the superstar line-up at Whiz Khalifa’s 420 concert.

  • When: April 20
  • Where: Toyota Center in Kennewick
  • Cost: $47–63
  • Admittance: All ages

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Trump tells senator there will be no marijuana crackdown

President Trump called Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner this week to tell him there will be no crackdown on states that legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Trump also said he will support legislation to allow state autonomy under federal law, which currently makes pot possession for any reason outside limited research a crime.

Gardner, a Republican, won the assurances by blocking Justice Department nominations after Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew the so-called Cole Memo in January.

[Related: Jeff Sessions to end policy that let legal marijuana flourish]

That 2013 memo allowed state-regulated recreational pot markets to open by identifying specific trip wires for a federal crackdown.

Sessions, a longtime marijuana legalization opponent, empowered individual U.S. attorneys to decide whether to prosecute marijuana crimes, putting the fate of a multibillion-dollar state-legal industry in question.

Gardner is releasing his holds on Justice Department nominations in response to the president’s call.

“Late Wednesday, I received a commitment from the President that the Department of Justice’s rescission of the Cole memo will not impact Colorado’s legal marijuana industry,” Gardner said in a statement.

“Furthermore, President Trump has assured me that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all,” he said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Gardner’s statement “is accurate,” and that the president called Gardner a second time Friday. She told reporters at the daily White House press briefing that Trump is a “firm believer” in states’ rights.

Marc Short, the White House’s legislative affairs director, told the Washington Post that Trump “does respect Colorado’s right to decide for themselves how to best approach this issue.”

Short said that “clearly, we’ve expressed our frustration with the delay with a lot of our nominees and feel that too often, senators hijack a nominee for a policy solution. So we’re reluctant to reward that sort of behavior. But at the same time, we’re anxious to get our team at the Department of Justice.”

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly promised to respect state recreational marijuana laws. He also endorsed the legalization of medical marijuana, though he has not publicly addressed these positions since taking office. Sessions, meanwhile, has asked Congress to drop budget language protecting the approximately two-dozen state medical pot markets.

Currently, nine states and the nation’s capital have laws allowing adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational use.

Recreational retail markets are open in Alaska, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Officials are working to implement voter-approved laws in Maine and Massachusetts, while Vermont and the nation’s capital have non-commercial legalization laws.

Although the threat of a federal crackdown loomed with Sessions leading the Justice Department, polls have shown overwhelming public support for marijuana legalization. A Pew Research Center poll in January found 61 percent support. A Gallup poll found 64 percent support late last year.

Trump’s pledge to respect state laws comes the same week as former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced he had “evolved” his position and joined a marijuana business’s board of advisers.

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Cheech and Chong talk NJ legal weed, ‘Up in Smoke’

New Jersey could soon become the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana, if Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers can get on the same page.

When Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong’s “Up in Smoke” debuted in cinemas in 1978, the use of medical marijuana was barely in its infancy, and the idea of legal weed for recreation was laughable.

WHEN WILL MARIJUANA BE LEGAL IN NJ? Check out our guide here.

Now, it’s become a billion-dollar industry in Colorado and there could soon be home to anywhere from 80 to 400 marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey, where cannabis is as respectable a business as pharmaceuticals or technology — with industry conferences, trade associations and lobbying groups.

Forty years later, Cheech and Chong have the last laugh.

“You know what they say: Follow the money,” Chong told the Asbury Park Press’ “Fan Theory” podcast. “You have to follow the money. Legalization has proved — in Colorado, in California — the coffers are being filled with taxes. And that’s all it takes.

“Put a tax on weed, man. It’s been the number one cash crop in the world forever, and now the government’s cashing in on it.”

MORE: Marijuana is going mainstream as New Jersey prepares to legalize weed

The pair were used as the poster children for marijuana users in the 1970s and 1980s: two hippies with facial hair and bloodshot eyes, driving around in beat-up cars (or a van constructed entirely of weed), laughing hysterically at nothing in particular.

“The more it becomes legal, the more we become demonized for being a bad role model,” Chong said.

But in 2018, advocates say that marijuana users are more likely to be doctors and lawyers than Cheech and Chong.

And it’s not lost on the pair: “It’s not strange. It’s joyful,” Marin said. “We have 29 states that have some form of legalized marijuana, and more every election cycle. That kind of says it all.”

MORE: Inside marijuana’s image problem, from “Reefer Madness” to Cheech & Chong to the present day

What’s strange to the duo is that, 40 years after lighting up a comically large joint in “Up in Smoke” – “mostly Maui Waui, man, but it’s got some Labrador in it” — Chong can walk through the airport without getting searched.

“Coming across the border, we got stopped because my wife has too much cosmetics in her suitcase. And they bypassed all the weed I was carrying to throw her cosmetics to the side,” Chong said. “That shows you how crazy it is.”

Until recently, “they would let my wife go through and stop me, search me and of course they always found weed somewhere,” he said.

RELATED: How airports are reacting to weed laws in Colorado, Washington

Marijuana legalization has been a personal battle for Chong, 79, who served nine months in federal prison after he admitted to financing and promoting Chong Glass Works/Nice Dreams, which produced glass bongs and sold them online.

Of the 55 defendants charged in “Operation Pipe Dream,” he was the only one to serve prison time.

“It was made illegal in 1938, the year I was born, so as long as I’ve been alive, it’s been illegal,” Chong said.

This spring, Marin and Chong are celebrating both societal change and a professional landmark: in honor of the 40th anniversary of “Up in Smoke,” Paramount Home Media Distribution has released the film as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack on April 10.

A special deluxe collector’s edition with a Blu-ray of the film and its soundtrack on CD and LP, will be released via Rhino on Friday, April 20 (naturally), complete with a new edition of the film’s title song for 2018.

“I still laugh at that movie,” Chong said of “Up in Smoke.” “Even though I know what’s coming, it still takes me by surprise.

“It’s like listening to a (piece) good music: you always come to the nice part and it’s there and you love it. That’s what ‘Up in Smoke’ does for me now.”

Marin and Chong are also still on the road together, reviving their classic material for live audiences across the country.

They play the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown on Thursday, April 19, followed by two shows at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York on Friday, April 20. On Saturday, May 5, the pair performs at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia.

Chong and Marin met in the Canadian club scene in the late 1960s, and their pre-comedy careers as musicians have consistently informed their work — including the “Los Cochinos” LP, which won a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording in 1973.

“Up in Smoke” alone features two of the duo’s classic anthems, the title track and the hard-rocking “Earache My Eye,” performed by Marin in his Alice Bowie persona (the later of which cracked the Top 10 Billboard singles chart in 1974).

“We were both always musicians, all our lives, so we look at comedy from a musical standpoint,” Marin said. “What’s the rhythm of it, you know? In constructing movies or bits, what’s the rhythm of it? That’s the most important thing.”

“Music was always a good escape and protection,” said Chong. “If you’ve got an unruly crowd that would throw things at comedians, we’d become rock musicians, and then we’d turn up the amp and we’d fight them back.”


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GO: 8 p.m.  Thursday, April 19, Mayo Performing Arts Center, 100 South St., Morristown, $49 to $89, 973-539-8008, www.mayoarts.org.

GO: 5:30 and 9 p.m. Friday, April 20, the Capitol Theatre, 149 Westchester Ave., Port Chester, New York, $45 to $100, 877-987-6487, www.thecapitoltheatre.com.

GO: 9 p.m. Saturday, May 5, SugarHouse Casino, 1001 North Delaware Ave.,
Philadelphia, $59 to $69, 1-877-477-3715, www.sugarhouseentertainment.com.

To hear our full conversation with Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, listen to the Asbury Park Press and USA Today Network’s “Fan Theory” podcast, available at app.com/fantheory and on iTunes, Soundcloud and Google Play.

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Jim Hartman: Far greater resistance to commercial pot in California

In November 2016, both California and Nevada voters passed marijuana industry-written initiatives legalizing commercial pot. In both states, a one-year period was provided for state governments to develop their recreational marijuana program, including drafting comprehensive regulations.

Nevada politicians and the marijuana industry entered into an unholy alliance to heedlessly rush the process with an “Early Start” program, advancing the “first sale” date to July 1, 2017. California officials, citing the myriad complexities of legalization, including the fundamental conflict with federal law, prudently adhered to the Jan. 1, 2018 “first sale” deadline.

In both states, the initiatives permit individuals to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and consume it in private. The initiatives give local governments full authority to regulate or ban most other marijuana activity in their jurisdictions. In Nevada, the largest cities — Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno and North Las Vegas — have approved licensing of commercial marijuana establishments. Only a limited number of jurisdictions, most notably Douglas and Elko Counties, have banned commercial marijuana businesses.

There has been far greater resistance in California to commercial marijuana businesses locating in local communities. While large California cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Diego, San Jose and Fresno — have approved commercial marijuana, the vast majority of jurisdictions in the state have banned recreational pot shops.

In Los Angeles County, 86 of the 88 cities don’t allow recreational pot sales, with a ban in unincorporated areas as well. In affluent Marin County, once the capital of cannabis hipsterism and where “legalization” passed overwhelmingly, all 11 municipalities slammed the door on commercial marijuana as well as there being a prohibition in unincorporated Marin. Compton voters in January, 2018 soundly rejected pot businesses in their city by more than a 3-1 margin.

While voters might sympathize with marijuana “legalization,” it’s totally unsurprising no one wants to live near a pot shop or have pot candies sold near their schools. People don’t want to see and smell pot in their own community.

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Riverside, Calif., voted to “legalize” marijuana in November 2016, while Carson City voters opposed legalization. Yet the Riverside City Council in March 2018 approved an expansive ban on marijuana-related activities. In contrast, Carson City’s Board of Supervisors voted in July 2017 to approve recreational commercial establishments.

City officials in Riverside conducted an extensive “due diligence” study to evaluate the consequences of marijuana commercialization. A delegation of city officials, including council members, Riverside school district representatives, a police captain and an assistant city attorney, traveled to Denver and then gave a three-hour public presentation on the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado.

Two Denver police officials came to Riverside and testified police resources devoted to marijuana increased markedly since legalization and Colorado had seen a large increase in the illegal market.

Carson City undertook no similar “due diligence” inquiry. Mayor Bob Crowell is depicted as a “retired partner … available for consultation to the firm” on the Kaempfer Crowell website. This law firm advertises an eight lawyer “Cannabis Team” that “assists clients with the filing of applications for dispensaries, cultivation and production establishments at the state and local level.” A ninth cannabis lawyer, Deonne Contine, Nevada’s then-marijuana regulator, was added to the firm in January.

While Crowell “disclosed” his law firm association, he didn’t “recuse” himself from voting on marijuana issues. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 upheld the Nevada Ethics in Government Law requiring government officials to recuse themselves where there’s a conflict of interest.

A respected attorney with a long history of public service, Crowell’s pivotal vote for Carson’s marijuana commercialization leaves the unfortunate appearance of being the result of his conflict of interest.

Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa.

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