Since Washington legalized recreational marijuana purchases, entrepreneurs and weed enthusiasts have been scrambling to profit from a previously-untapped market. But existing laws, red tape, and a lack of legal precedents have hindered the growth of this industry.
This is especially true for businesses who are hoping to lure tourists into the state. If retailers or service providers could find a way to increase revenue from out-of-state guests who are seeking to consume marijuana, it would benefit their bottom line as well as the overall Washington economy.
The trouble is, the current restrictions make it difficult to attract pot-curious tourists. After all, you still can't smoke marijuana in public, in most hotel rooms, or at a venue that also sells pot products.
However, there's one part of the tourism sector that has managed to successfully navigate the legal marijuana waters: bus tour providers.
Marijuana bus tours have been flourishing in part for two reasons: private buses aren't considered "public spaces" where pot smoking is outlawed, and smokers are allowed to light up in vehicles which are equipped with glass partitions (a law originally put in place for limousine passengers).
As a result, a handful of bus companies have begun offering weed smoking tours - though the cost can be steep: around $25 an hour, not including the price of the pot. And as with vineyard or brewery tours, many of these weed bus tours transport guests to specific marijuana retailers - which allow the bus companies and these pot businesses to form mutually-beneficial relationships.
Eventually, Washington's "marijuana tourism" industry is expected to expand and mature. But for right now, many pot aficionados visiting the state are hopping on the bus to indulge in their favorite vice.