If there’s anybody who has their finger on the pulse of cannabis tourism, it’s Brian Applegarth.
In 2017, he founded the Cannabis Travel Association International, a membership-based nonprofit that focuses on advocacy, education and networking. Applegarth calls it the “united voice of cannabis travel” because it brings together numerous stakeholders in the cannabis and travel industries, including cannabis brands, retailers, delivery services and consumption lounges, as well as the hotels, attractions, technology companies and other entities focused on the travel economy.
Two of the group’s big projects for 2022 are working to create a catering license for businesses in California and launching an advocacy toolkit that will support the advancement of the cannabis travel trend with research, data and discussion points.
“Our mission is to be a steward and to help advance the cannabis and hemp travel trend, globally,” Applegarth says.
Applegarth is also the founder of Cultivar Strategies, a consulting firm that helps destination cities develop cannabis travel strategies. He helped conduct a national study on the cannabis traveler profile, showing not only does that audience exist, but it’s growing rapidly.
“They want a glass of wine and they want to taste the local cuisine and, of course, they want to try local cannabis,” he says.
One of the big issues with cannabis and travel is that many states still prohibit consumption outside the privacy of one’s home. Consumption lounges are a key component of cannabis travel.
“I think it’s really important that destinations understand the importance of having dedicated consumption spaces,” Applegarth says.
— Garrett Rudolph`