Legal pot could be state's new tourist attraction

Updated:

SEATTLE —

 

With voter approval of Initiative 502, recreational amounts of marijuana will soon be legal for adult residents and tourists alike and some are wondering if it will be the next major tourist attraction in the state.

 

Some local merchants and hotel managers said they are excited about a possible boom in pot tourism if federal authorities will allow it.            

 

Perhaps nowhere else in Seattle does tourism matter more than the Pike Place Market.  The fishmongers there said they are confident legalized pot will draw new customers from out of state.

 

"I think there's a lot of people out there who want to be a little more loose and a little more free.  Come to Seattle -- we're a little more loose and a little more free, I guess,” said one.

 

Visitors from southern California agreed.   

 

A man who asked to be identified only as Cody said he'll be back next year and will bring his friends.

 

"I feel it's going to bring people.  I don't know as far as flying here, but people from Oregon, people from surrounding states,” said Cody.

 

Since only Washington and Colorado have only recently approved legalizing marijuana, no one really knows how many tourists will be drawn to the two states and how much money they'll spend. 

 

Hotels that cater to younger customers, such as the Green Tortoise Hostel near the Market, and the Ace Hotel in Belltown, say they'll give a warm welcome to any tourists who come to Seattle for pot.

 

But it remains to be seen if federal authorities will challenge the state law.    On Tuesday, the Office of National Drug Control Policy issued a statement:  "The Obama Administration continues to oppose legalization of marijuana."

 

As it stands now, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by anyone 21 years and older will be legal in Washington Dec.6, but the state has another year to establish rules to sell, tax and regulate the drug.