Colorado ski resorts wary of marijuana tourists; others chase them

Thu Jan 2, 2014 8:48pm EST
 
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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado ski resorts and the state Tourism Office have chosen not to embrace out-of-state visitors who have come to buy legalized cannabis, creating an opportunity for a handful of small firms that are catering to marijuana tourists.

When legalized marijuana became available for sale with the New Year, out-of-state tourists joined Coloradans in lining up at authorized retailers, despite the federal ban on the substance.

Colorado, under a 2012 voter-approved referendum, allowed the world's first state-licensed marijuana retailers to open for business on New Year's Day and legally sell pot for recreational use. At a number of the roughly three dozen former medical marijuana dispensaries cleared by state regulators to sell the drug, lines of customers formed outside the door.

An estimated $1 million in pot sales took place in Colorado on New Year's Day, said Betty Aldworth, deputy director of National Cannabis Industry Association.

Despite this potential customer base, the state's world-renowned ski resorts remain wary.

"There has been a law on the books since the 1970s in Colorado that makes it illegal to ski, board or even get on a ski lift if under the influence," said Jennifer Rudolph, spokeswoman for Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry trade group that counts most of Colorado's 26 ski resorts as members.

Like the ski resorts, state tourism officials are also keeping a distance.

The Colorado Tourism Office "has no plans to use the legalization to promote the state," it said in a statement.   Continued...

 
People wait in line to be among the first to legally buy recreational marijuana at the Botana Care store in Northglenn, Colorado in this January 1, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Rick Wilking