In this time of global crisis and uncertainty, we put the call out to leaders, CEOs, strategists and consultants to sit down and tell us, in their own words, what is going on and what is going to happen next in this vital global industry.

What do we need to know about cannabis and cannabis tourism as tourism professionals?

For answers to that and a crash course on cannabis tourism, I turned to Brian Applegarth. Applegarth is a strategic voice and leader in advancing cannabis-related travel and tourism. He is the founder of Cultivar Brands, a destination solutions provider for the cannabis-related travel trend, and The Cannabis Trail, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and celebrating the cannabis heritage of northern California. He also founded the Cannabis Travel Association, an international nonprofit organization focused on advocacy, education and networking.

Applegarth serves as a subject matter expert for industry organizations like the California Travel Association, Destinations International, San Francisco Travel, Visit Greater Palm Springs, Visit West Hollywood, and the Las Vegas Chamber of Cannabis. Holistic strategy, innovation and thought leadership at the intersection of cannabis tourism is a signature of his work. 

He was the sole expert advisor for the first-ever national research on the Cannabis Travel Audience profile in the U.S. and recently partnered with MMGY Global, a leading tourism consultancy, to conduct groundbreaking research identifying and understanding the cannabis-motivated traveler segment in the United States.

If you're wondering whether cannabis consumption and cannabis tourism is a going concern, just scan the headlines:

Canadian cannabis industry laments lack of progress toward allowing consumption spaces, The Globe and Mail 
Connecticut legalizes recreational marijuana, with sales aimed for 2022, The New York Times
Uruguay looks to bolster cannabis industry, allow tourists to buy marijuana pot, Bloomberg
U.S. cannabis sales hit record $17.5 billion as Americans consume more marijuana than ever before, Forbes

On the less rosy side of the equation, we have:

Manitoba premier wants to ban all public consumption of cannabis, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Cannabis has been legal for almost three years. So why don’t we want to get high off Ottawa’s supply?, ABC News
Edibles are leading to more negative outcomes in cannabis users, Yahoo Finance

In certain European countries — the Czech Republic, Portugal, Russia, Croatia, Spain, Ukraine, and Switzerland — cannabis usage is at varying stages of legality and decriminalization. It remains illegal everywhere else in Europe. It is a Class B drug and illegal for recreational use in the UK. Cannabis usage is either legal or considered a misdemeanor in the US and Canada. 

South American countries are more accepting of marijuana, as many nations in this region have decriminalized cannabis possession, although sales and cultivation remain illegal.

As tourism professionals, cannabis and cannabis tourism are topics we need to have on our radars.