Cannabis Travel is Here to Stay in Michigan

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Cannabis Lodging by Derive Travel

Adrienne Roberts of the Detroit Free Press talked with the Michigan Cannabis Trail as part of her excellent feature on the state of Michigan cannabis travel. It says in part:

As people start to make their summer travel plans, there are a growing number of options for travelers to Michigan to consume marijuana on vacation, from cannabis music festivals to consumption lounges and cannabis-friendly lodging.

There are no Pure Michigan (the state of Michigan’s tourism campaign) commercials advertising cannabis tourism in the state. Recreational cannabis sales began in Detroit at the start of this year but Visit Detroit is just starting to explore its strategy around cannabis and tourism, a spokesperson said.

One popular town in northern Michigan for tourists, Traverse City, recently issued 16 licenses for recreational marijuana. While recreational marijuana will be available for purchase in Traverse City this summer travel season, that doesn’t mean the city’s visitors bureau is rushing to promote it, mainly due to the restrictions on where it can be consumed, Whitney Waara, chief operating officer of Traverse City Tourism, said.

“It’s a great place to come for anybody and I can see it being aligned with what (cannabis consumers) might be looking for,” Waara said. “That said, we’re just not at that point yet where we’re ready to promote that type of a trip.”

However, there are a few cannabis companies and entrepreneurs that have filled in this gap, offering guides for travelers and aggregating cannabis-friendly activities and lodging options. This year, they say, there are more options for cannabis travelers than ever before.

Andrew McFarlane, founder of Michigan Cannabis Trail, a website that offers information about cannabis experiences in Michigan, said it’s been a slow rollout. He started the website with the hopes of making cannabis more mainstream. Now, he said he wants to show consumers that cannabis can be safe and enjoyable.

McFarlane, who was one of the people behind the Leelanau Wine Trail, sees parallels with cannabis. Wine was seen as snobby and inaccessible and the industry had to find ways to make it more approachable.

“We have to show people that it’s not only safe but it’s enjoyable,” he said. He acknowledged, though, that like alcohol, it can be difficult to serve responsibly. Cannabis can be even more difficult than alcohol because everyone has a different tolerance and it affects people more unpredictably, he said.

He sees budtenders, employees of marijuana dispensaries who help customers select products, as the equivalent of sommeliers in the wine industry.

The need for education in the cannabis industry is something northern Michigan cannabis retailer Dunegrass Co. is betting on.

A year ago, the retailer made the decision to really push the tourism aspect of its business, naming Brian Buchanan the director of tourism strategy for the company and rebranding the company as “Northern Michigan’s cannabis outfitter.”

“You can actually enhance all the experiences that you’re having with the use of cannabis,” Buchanan said, pointing to activities such as kayaking, mountain biking and going to the beach.

Read on for much more at the Freep! If you want to start planning your next cannabis vacation, head over to our Michigan cannabis calendar & 420-friendly lodging & camping page for all kinds of options.