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The Jan. 1 legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois brings with it numerous dizzying queries. 1 of them is what influence legalization could have on tourism. Could the Land of Lincoln turn into the Midwest mecca for marijuana tourism?

Reporter Robert McCoppin covers the marijuana beat for the Chicago Tribune. He lately travelled to Colorado to get a whiff of how legal pot has impacted that state.

“It seemed like a lot of men and women had been excited to go to Colorado for the chance to acquire and encounter pot freely and legally. 1 of the most the memorable components of the trip was the My 420 bus tour I went on,” McCoppin mentioned. “The bus visits cannabis greenhouses and dispensaries when riders smoke pot on the bus along the tour. The bus would have these lasers that would go off to alert riders when they could/could not smoke. See, the city of Denver had ticketed the bus for enabling smoking on the bus. Denver authorities viewed it as a public space. But surrounding suburbs viewed the bus tour as a private space, which means the riders could smoke on the bus.”

This is just 1 instance of the sorts of difficulties Illinois municipalities will be dealing with.  

As an alternative of a foodie or distillery tour, could possibly we commence seeing advertisements for comparable cannabis greenhouse bus tours in Illinois?

David Zapata, CEO of Zapwater Communications, a Chicago-primarily based PR firm advising destinations on how to improve tourism, does not count on marijuana to have a large influence on tourism.

“I do feel marijuana will be a income generator for the state, but I do not see it as a tourism driver,” he mentioned. “There’s nonetheless debate about irrespective of whether it is actually helped tourism in Colorado. Inside the 1st years there was an uptick in guests. But in terms of out-of-state guests, only a smaller quantity mentioned they had been there for marijuana. Legal marijuana could be 1 of the factors why somebody comes, but could not be the deciding issue. Also, we do not have any information on irrespective of whether particular men and women chose not to come to Colorado mainly because of marijuana legalization.”

McCoppin thinks a lot of guests could possibly come to Illinois from surrounding border states after marijuana is legal.

“Although Michigan has legalized marijuana, Illinois will be the 1st state in the Midwest to enable legal marijuana sales for recreational use. We should really unquestionably count on to see men and women driving right here from surrounding states to acquire marijuana,” he mentioned.

But irrespective of whether these guests will devote on other factors, like restaurants or lodging, is nonetheless a burning query.

In the meantime, Zapata is glad Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has selected not to enable marijuana dispensaries in the downtown region of Chicago’s Loop and Magnificent Mile.

“There’s a significant stigma attached to marijuana use. Primary Street America is nonetheless not that comfy with it,” Zapata mentioned. “When I was in Las Vegas, I couldn’t think the size of some of these cannabis dispensaries. Vegas has worked difficult to nurture a extra household friendly image, but I feel these marijuana shops actually perform against that.” 

McCoppin and Zapata join “Chicago Tonight” in conversation.


Associated stories:

The Week in Evaluation: Lightfoot Gets Blowback for Pot Program

US Awards $3M to Fill Gaps in Health-related Marijuana Analysis

City Council Appears to Restrict Vaping, Expand Marijuana

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