Virtually no one is traveling around the United States at the moment, but that might change as all 50 states announce some re-opening measures after shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. When travel does resume, a new study finds that cannabis legalization actually increases tourism.

The study, published earlier this month in the Journal of Regional Analysis & Policy, reviewed data on how legalization impacted outsiders visiting Colorado and Washington states. Researchers compared hotel and tourism trends in both states post-legalization with states where weed remained illegal. Researchers concluded legal marijuana boosted Colorado and Washington as travel hotspots following legalization, with an even higher increase once retail sales began.

Post-legalization correlated with 51,000 extra hotel rooms rented per month in Colorado. That figure jumped to an additional 120,000 hotel rooms rented per month once tourists could purchase cannabis legally. Washington numbers were about half those of Colorado.

“Marijuana legalization led to a larger increase in tourism in Colorado than Washington. One possible explanation is that Colorado is an easier travel destination than Washington, and Denver’s airport is a major hub for United Airlines,” the study’s authors wrote.

Earlier study found increased hotel revenue in legalized U.S. states. / Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus iStock / Getty Images Plus

“Another possible explanation is that Colorado may have achieved a first-mover advantage over Washington since it legalized commercial sale six months earlier than Washington,” they added.

This study isn’t the first to positively connect cannabis legalization with tourism dollars. Penn State researcher John O’Neill concluded in a study earlier this year that Denver hotel revenue increased by US$130 million after marijuana was legalized. Data showed a nine per cent bump in occupancy rates the first year post-legalization.

“Marijuana legalization led to a larger increase in tourism in Colorado than Washington.” / Photo: Aleksandr_Kravtsov/Getty Images / Photo: Aleksandr_Kravtsov/Getty Images

“We found that Denver hotels were able to charge and receive higher prices for hotel rooms following recreational marijuana legalization, and also found increased visitation to the Denver […] resulting in positive economic impact,” O’Neill said.

The, a U.S. lifestyle site that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.

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