'Weed tours' attract Floridians

Marijuana trips to Colorado new 'green tourism'

TAMPA, Fla. -

When Colorado approved the use of marijuana for recreational use, many students waited for the day when they could show up in the Rocky Mountains and take part in a new form of the high life. Legally.

"A lot of my generation smokes, so it was talked about," said Tori Warren, a University of Tampa student. "I feel like a lot of people look at it like it's the same as cigarettes."

"I know people who went there just to get marijuana," said Mary Horn, a UT student who remembered classmates who applied to college in Colorado after the historic vote.

"A couple of friends looked into going to school there solely for that reason," Horn said.

Now that marijuana is available at regulated distribution centers, websites have been appearing promoting so-called "green tourism" aimed at people interested in legal marijuana.  

Websites like coloradogreentours.com offers a long list of travel options, including tours of growing facilities and limousine rides to stores that sell pot.  

Weedmaps.com is offering a Groupon-style promotion showing where interested buyers can get deals on marijuana. It all makes for an exciting trip for a certain type of spring breaker, or anyone else curious about Colorado's newly-passed liberty.

"I think definitely they'll try to get out there because they can smoke and do whatever they want to do and have fun," UT freshman Ricardo Williams said.

The interest in Colorado's pot movement gave travel businesswoman Tammy Levent of Palm Harbor the idea to set up tours for Floridians interested in going there. But she quickly ran into a problem.

"It's a federal crime if I go out and promote something for Colorado even though it's recreational," said Levent, who's following the legal advice of her attorney.

"I can't do anything about it online. I can't do it because it's illegal in this state," Levent said.

Most of the websites offering tours are based in Colorado, and many won't book out-of-state visitors until they cross state lines first.

Florida tourism officials, including those in Pinellas County, said they had been monitoring Colorado's promotion strategy following the legalization of recreational marijuana use. They were expecting an advertising campaign, only to find that the plan was delayed last week after concerns were raised about how it might portray the state around the country and the world.

The legal issue may also have played a role in Colorado reconsidering pot promotion.

But the state may not need much promotion, as many people in Florida are interested in weed tours, Levent said.

"I've had a tremendous response and people think that could be a huge moneymaker," Levent said. "Just like you do Sonoma and wine tours. There's no difference."

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