When the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau encourages tourists to "live it up," it never mentions how high. And despite the Nov. 6 passage of Amendment 64, that's unlikely to change.
There are lots of reasons for its discretion. For instance, not only are local jurisdictions unsure of the federal government's response to Colorado's semi-legalization of marijuana, but the federal government may be, too: "I really don't know what we're going to do," said an unnamed official in the Washington Post last Friday.
Then there are questions like: What regulations will the Department of Revenue and the state Legislature create? How will they limit where retail stores may be located? And will cities and counties ban the substance, as is their option?
It's just too early to tell if pimping pot is in anybody's best interest, says CSCVB spokeswoman Chelsy Murphy — but it's not looking good. "To say that we would actually put dollars aside to promote marijuana tourism, I don't think that's something we would ever do with our limited budget," she says. "And it just doesn't fit our demographic or audience, to be honest."
Which is who?
"Really, we're a very large drive destination, so we're about 85 percent drive and 15 percent fly," Murphy explains. "And really our largest demographic, in terms of tourists, is families, couples and a small piece of outdoor adventure [seekers]. So, really, the biggest people that we're talking to in terms of Colorado Springs is the family, and the mom is usually the planner.
"So that's definitely not something we would promote to that audience."
Manitou Springs Mayor Marc Snyder says he'd be surprised if his community didn't support keeping legalized cannabis around, but he's not sure it should be a marketing boon.
"I'm actually kind of proud of Coloradans for voting their conscience, and voting for what they feel is right," Snyder says. "I'm supportive on that level, but as far as our little town, do I want us to become the Mecca for recreational marijuana users? No, that's not something I would consider a success for us.
"And I think it's going to take some time," he continues. "Who knows where we're headed with the feds and everything else, and what the Legislature's gonna hand off to the local jurisdictions and then how they're gonna handle that? Because, you know, I've been down this road with the [medical-marijuana] dispensaries. So I don't wanna get too excited one way or the other."
Other officials are even more circumspect. Spokesman Rich Grant from Visit Denver tells the Independent, "I think the Colorado Tourism board will come out with a statement that they're not going to use it." That echoes a pre-election statement put out by Visit Denver's CEO that, according to the Denver Post, stated, "Colorado's brand will be damaged, and we may attract fewer conventions and see a decline in leisure travel" as a result.
And though we were unable to hear from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol before press time, co-director Mason Tvert is quoted in that same story as saying all this is beside the point, anyway. "Tourism was never part of the reasoning behind this campaign," he says. "We wanted to end the needless arrests of 10,000-plus Coloradans every year simply for possessing marijuana."
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