cannabis

In a time of weed dispensaries and regulated drug testing at festivals, the adage “just say no” is to some extent being replaced with “just be safe”. Drugs are making their way into mainstream channels and travel is no exception, with cannabis tourism raking in billions for weed-progressive countries. The relaxing of regulations combined with a New Age sensibility means if you’re looking for trippy travel you’re surprisingly spoilt for choice.

Here’s our pick of places where rules are changing and disapproving looks are rare. Proceed respectfully and responsibly, kids.

San Francisco, California, US

If San Francisco was distilled, bottled and sold as perfume, what you’d get is unmistakably cannabic – enhanced with notes of Mexican food from La Taqueria and the scent of progressive politics. Head to Dolores Park in the afternoon and you’ll realise taking a bong out of your bag won’t raise any eyebrows. Between the speakers blasting music from every corner, the woman hula-hooping and the group practising capoeira, it’d almost be rude not to light up and add to the fun. Alternatively, grab an edible from a dispensary (of which SF has many) and wander around town. If there’s one place you won’t feel paranoid, it’s this liberal hub of art and culture.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

There are few places as synonymous with cannabis: Amsterdam, the wonderland of weed. Way ahead of the drug-tourism boom, the Dutch capital has long been a favourite micro-trip for red-eyed, dry-mouthed youngsters across Europe and beyond. Since becoming legal in 1980, there are now over 250 coffeeshops (not to be confused with coffee houses or cafés) across the city, the majority of which are concentrated in the De Wallen city centre. Buzzed on excitement and with plenty of options, it’s tempting to drift into the first place you see touting a marijuana-leaf logo, but not all coffee shops are created equal. The Bulldog is a crowd favourite with a history stretching back to the 1970s; perfectly situated to light up on the banks of a canal for a joint al fresco. Alternatively, the aptly named 420 Café is your go-to for traditional Dutch interiors, space cakes, snacks, fresh coffee and a soundtrack of classic rock.

Denver, Colorado, US

The home of South Park, the Rocky Mountains and a booming cannabis industry, The Mile High City (strangely not named after its weed consumption – just a happy coincidence) is a hotspot for marijuana tourism. Since the drug was legalised in 2014 the city has welcomed the green rush with open arms and deep pockets; local Girl Scouts having been given the thumbs up to sell cookies outside weed dispensaries and Airbnb reservation rose 68% from 2016 to 2017. The faint smell of cannabis drifts out onto the street from dispensaries and even hotels (yes, Bud and Breakfast serves bongs and vaporisers alongside meals), but if you’re looking to buy, make sure you bring ID and if you’re not American, make it a passport – this is a deal-breaker and without one, you’re likely to go home empty-handed and sorely disappointed. For people who prefer their high with a side of education, a trip to Denver’s Euflora Cannabis Centre is enlightening; touch, see and sample the goods (think London’s Science Museum but with weed).

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

While BC is a relative newbie on the cannabis tourism block, opening its first legal weed dispensary in January 2019, the drug feels right at home in the liberal climate of Vancouver. Overnight the legalisation made Canada the world’s largest country with legal marijuana sales. Forget the lava lamps, drum circles and bean bags, Vancouver’s high is more chic than shabby; think organic edibles fortified with vitamins rather than brownies. City Cannabis is practically the Goop of weed; with natural greenery, airy spaces and reclaimed wood furniture, as well as interactive menus on iPads, aromatic cannabis display pods and a curated selection of books, this is the kind of place you can definitely take your mum. Of course, smaller, low-key dispensaries are still in abundance. Domestic air travellers are even allowed to carry 30g of pot on them – times are changing, and Canada is leading the way.

Kingston, Jamaica

There are few places to light up that feel as right as the beach huts of Jamaica, with Rastafarianism, reggae music and Bob Marley doing much to connect the country with weed in popular culture. Surprisingly though, the reality for a long time was not so chilled, and marijuana offenders risked prison for life. Attitudes (and policies) have since changed with the drug becoming more of a grey area – but if you know the law you have a better chance of staying on the right side of it. As of 2013, weed was decriminalised for small amounts, with the legalisation of medical-use marijuana following suit two years later. While the latter fact may not seem to apply to you, Jamaica’s medical-marijuana programmes are pretty much regulation free; the law around it is pretty hazy. If you’re looking for a legal high, Kaya Farms in St Ann is your go-to facility for all things ganja, plus there’s a doctor on site able to prescribe it. Just be sure to call ahead to check availability.

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