Panel: Marijuana legalization has little impact on Colorado’s tourism numbers |

Panel: Marijuana legalization has little impact on Colorado’s tourism numbers

Denise Miller (left) and Ali Maffey (right) held a breakout session on Marijuana legalization's impact on tourism in Colorado. The session was part of the Governor's Tourism Conference held in Breckenridge on Sept. 16.
Photo by Kailyn Lamb/ |

As part of the Governor’s Tourism Conference on Friday, Sept. 16, a panel discussed the impact, or lack thereof, of marijuana legalization on tourism. Denise Miller, who is the executive vice president of Strategic Marketing and Research Insights (SMARI), and Ali Maffey, the retail marijuana education program manager for Colorado’s health department spoke at the event.

The Colorado Tourism Office uses SMARI as an outside consultant to review the state’s tourism statistics. While the organization did not start the research looking at marijuana numbers, it began including them in surveys in the summer of 2013. The group found that legalization did not impact a majority of visitors.

While the organization found that a small percentage of people do come specifically for legal pot, Miller said she did not have enough data to call it a trend. She also said that with states like California and Nevada soon deciding on legalization, it may become less of a novelty.

Maffey focused more on health impacts and the specific laws surrounding usage. She said that one of the more difficult aspects of the law is usage by tourists. Many hotels and resorts do not want people smoking pot in their rooms, and smoking in public is illegal. This often leaves tourists with the option to buy, but no where to light up.

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