Rebranding Pot is a series about the changing aesthetics of the cannabis industry
As cannabis becomes increasingly legal and commercialized, the hospitality industry has come up with new travel options that capitalize on growing acceptance of the plant and its mainstreaming in American culture. Retreats and cruises where cannabis is the core “theme” have cropped up in the United States, Canada and Jamaica. While travelers have flocked to Amsterdam and Colorado in search of legal weed for years, we now see cannabis travel experiences being advertised where the plant is the focus of the journey.
The reasons why we travel and how we plan our adventures are impacted by trends in contemporary culture. In the 17th- and 18th-century, upper-class European men of sufficient means and rank often embarked on a Grand Tour accompanied by a chaperone or family member when they became of age. More recently, we saw certain books and films influence American women’s travel choices. After the resounding success of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love and the movie version starring Julia Roberts, women travelers flocked to Bali hoping to replicate Gilbert’s experiences in life and love. After Cheryl Strayed’s publication of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and the movie version starring Reese Witherspoon, the trail’s hiking permit requests increased by approximately 300%. Instagram today plays a powerful role in how travelers chose Airbnbs, hotels and foreign destinations.
As curiosity about cannabis increases, and its use becomes less taboo, travelers will be increasingly willing to plan a vacation that is explicitly connected to the plant.
One of the most fascinating trends in contemporary travel generally is the increased focus on transformational experiences. Travel has long been used as a way to relax, discover new cultures and connect with loved ones. We are now seeing a mainstreaming of transformational travel that purports to expand consciousness. Certain types of travel are now being imbued with a new expectation: that going somewhere, under specific circumstances, with specific people, and aided by certain substances, can make the journey transformational. I am not referring here to the ubiquitous yoga retreat nor the weight loss spas where men and women go in order to transform their bodies. I am specifically addressing travel where psychoactive substances are involved. Ayahuasca retreats, Burning Man, cacao ceremonies at Esalen — these are just some examples of travel experiences that entice travelers with the expectation of emotional transformation. Will cannabis travelers expect more that just relaxation from their journeys?
This trend is still incipient. Let’s keep an eye on it.
Here are examples of cannabis-focused travel I’ve collected while researching Rebranding Pot. (I have not attended any of the events mentioned below and have no financial or social ties to any of the entities mentioned below.)
Coral Cove, Jamaica — Cannabliss Retreats has hosted four retreats to date (three in California and one in Canada). It is now advertising a June 2019 retreat in Jamaica that will include meals, sessions about Rastafarian education, cannabis ceremonies, signing and dancing, snorkeling, swimming in reefs, a tour of a local cannabis farm and Bob Marley’s home, hiking, sea cave exploration, and spa services.
Mendocino County, California — The Flow Cannabis Institute occupies a property that once housed a winery. Guests who attend Flow Kana’s cannabis retreats will stay in the campus’ historic residential buildings and enjoy the Big Dog Saloon. Details about upcoming retreats are not available on the company’s website.
Deerfield Beach, Florida — This retreat will take place in July 2019 and is being organized by Extract Cannabis Collective and Get Your Juicy Back. It is aimed at women of all backgrounds consuming, considering or curious about cannabis as medicine. It will feature health and industry experts, explore the “gifts and benefits of this unique plant and its century-long ties to Judaism,” and showcase sessions about the endocannabinoid system, CBD, and the legal landscape in Florida.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida — Bhang Travel organizes cannabis-focused cruises. While it is not clear whether its Bhang Caribbean Cruise took place in April 2017, it was marketed as the launch of an annual networking cruise for cannabis business professionals. The trip would include standard cruise amenities such as shows, nightclubs and casinos, as well as cannabis-focused workshops, meet-and-greets, a trade show, and cultural events in Jamaica. The company’s website is inactive but its Facebook page mentions a Hemp Cruise scheduled take place in 2020.
Plymouth, Vermont — Good Commons founder Tesha Buss hosted the “Vermont Cannabliss Retreat” in May 2019. The weekend retreat included infused meals created by professional chefs, yoga, and other optional group activities.
If you discover new examples of cannabis travel, please send them my way!