Challenges ahead for Washington's pot tourism

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by ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 18, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 7:24 PM

Mike Momany is a businessman and entrepreneur with a vision for the future of Washington State, or at least a vision for how he can spread the good word about legal pot and make some money at the same time.

Momany is working on a variety of plans mixing marijuana and tourism. He has plans for a dinner cruise to coincide with “Hempfest” this summer, plans for a social club, Mary Jane Members Association, with moveable party dates, tours of major indoor growing operations, pot-based trips to jazz festivals in the San Juan Islands and Rock and Roll shows at The Gorge Amphitheater.
 
In short, he sees big business ahead in the mellow world of marijuana-travel. 

“That idea of freedom, a lot of people, especially people my age, have been waiting for it for a long time,” he said with a smile.

He admits there are plenty of challenges ahead. His plans for the big dinner cruise may not work out, as he encounters problem after problem to be solved in a brand new legal and social environment. The ship he originally planned to use, The Virginia V, a classic ancient steamer, is actually a National historic Landmark. The foundation that runs it gets some of its money from the Feds, from grants and payment from the National Park Service. Remember, as far as the Federal government is concerned, marijuana is still an illegal drug. Also, Mike is finding out that the Coast Guard might be involved with any cruise on open water, and that could put things on hold, too.

But he also says he’ll press on, and others in the travel and tourism business seem to be on board as well. At Visit Seattle, the former Convention and Visitors Bureau, they assume that pot-based tourism could be part of the mix in the future. This group will take a wait and see approach for now though, mostly because of lingering questions about how the feds will approach implementation of the new law and how they might react when it is fully in place.   

“We’ve had quite a few inquiries about it from people who want to know what it really means,” said President Tom Norwalk.
 
He says there are no current plans to launch any promotional campaigns around legal pot but he thinks eventually it could be a pretty good fit for a city like Seattle.

“Music and arts and culture flourish here, creativity and energy. That certainly goes a little hand in hand with the pot tourism business.”

Meanwhile, Mike Momany is planning his first “MaryJaneMembers” smoke-out for next month in Fremont, exact location yet to be announced. It will cost you a $10 yearly membership fee and and $25 to get in the door and smoke up with like-minded pot-fans.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is currently drawing up detailed plans for growing, processing and selling marijuana and marijuana-based products. They could take effect next year.  

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