Authors: Adam Keul*, Plymouth State University, Brian Eisenhauer, Plymouth State University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Legal Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: tourism geography; legal geography; political geography; cannabis;
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Tourism has been theorized as a driver of both “worldmaking” and “placemaking” through its power to implement social structures and discourses in touristed destinations. While tourism marketing and the construction of place narratives play an important role in setting the geographic imaginaries of destinations, we argue that structural changes in the law and economies of destinations can also shape the development of tourism. These political economic changes are themselves embedded in discourse, yet beyond narrative, they can make significant material impacts in communities. We examine the emerging phenomenon of cannabis tourism to illustrate the impact of tourism development in communities and states where recreational cannabis has been legalized. Through fieldwork with tourism developers in the US states of Colorado, Oregon and Maine, we show how law has opened new spaces both for the legitimization of the cannabis industry and for the current or future growth of cannabis tourism. While these destinations have seen some similarities in the types of tour offerings, the particularities of place, and more so, the specifics of state and local law have governed the expansion of this “legalized” spaces. Rather than embracing cannabis culture, tourism, and the associated economic development, some states have failed to recognize their impacts while other communities have been more welcoming. Despite contentions, cannabis tourism has been a facilitator of legal spaces for “public” consumption and thus presents an important context for understanding the relationships between tourism development and local geographies.