Legal pot is increasing profits for Washington State. According to Visit Seattle, a nonprofit marketing guide to the Emerald City as a destination for tourists and business conventions, visitors to Seattle spend nearly $6 billion a year. And thanks to the newly legal marijuana market, that number is expected to rise even higher.
Last week the Washington State Liquor Control Board (which will regulate sale and consumption of recreational marijuana) received a letter supporting pot tourism from Pete Holmes of the City Attorney’s office. Holmes wrote: “We… support the Board’s decision to permit nonresidents to purchase one ounce of marijuana at a retail store. People travel to Washington for many reasons, and tourism is a significant industry within Seattle and throughout the state. We want tourists to enjoy our beautiful outdoors, fresh produce, microbrews, fine wines, professional sports and entertainment. We should similarly embrace marijuana tourism.”
Though support from the City Attorney’s office is wholehearted, there are still difficulties in regulating legal pot. Officials are making it a priority to ensure that recreational marijuana sold in Washington stays in the state. Pot tourists transporting product across state borders would certainly draw the ire of Eric Holder, the DEA, and the Obama administration, who have not yet articulated their stance on legalization in Colorado and Washington.
Of course, businesses are embracing the prospect of pot lovers bringing their cash for cannabis to the Pacific Northwest. Fifty-three thousand Seattle jobs are tourism-related, and the number will grow with the marijuana market. Everyone stands to benefit from legalization!