Jun 27, 2017 08:58AM
● By Stephanie Wilson
It didn’t take long for Colorado to dethrone Amsterdam as the king of the hill when it comes to cannabis tourism. Which makes sense on a number of levels: Amsterdam had been the Mecca for weed-seeking tourists from around the globe for the past half century. Smoking a spliff in one of the tolerant coffeeshops in the Dutch capital was a rite of passage for more than a generation of travelers, ultimately transitioning from cool to cliché, as so many things are wont to do.
As cannabis is decriminalized or legalized in some form in countries around the globe, the options for elevating travel experiences grow exponentially. Put these international hotspots on your itinerary of must-see places before they are discovered by the masses.
Montevideo //URUGUAY //
Sure, in 2014, Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of cannabis. But don’t just go because cannabis is legal, go to immerse yourself in a culture so progressive it inspired the government to reject the prevailing school of thought held by every other country in the world—every other country in the world—when it did so.
Starting as soon as July, select Uruguayan pharmacies will begin selling cannabis for adult use—the last step in a three-year process for legalizing consumption. In the meantime, there are legal cannabis clubs where registered members can go to consume. But to be a member, you have to be a citizen or long-term resident, so it’s not as easy to get your hands on elevating product in Uruguay as it is in Colorado. But Uruguayans are a generous set, and you won’t have too hard a time finding a local to share the spoils of their legal home grow with you.
Start your visit in the metropolitan capital, Montevideo. There, the Museo del Cannabis is a showcase of the country’s strong democratic roots and a celebration of its status as a vanguard of human rights and freedoms. The museum, which opened in 2016, also promotes the vision that cannabis is an economic driver that will allow Uruguay to develop new industries.
That’s something worth celebrating. And in Uruguay, the toniest place to raise a glass to newfound freedoms is Punta del Este, 80 miles east of the capital. The upscale resort town on the Atlantic coast calls to a jet-set crowd of global travelers, and you can rub elbows with them at Casapueblo, the “living-sculpture” of a hotel that’s been called a manmade wonder of South America. The undulating property, crafted by artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, hugs a cliff-fringed coastline dotted with powdery golden beaches. Its terraces are where you want to be as the sun starts to set on a day spent hopping the sands of La Barra and shopping the stalls that brim with handmade jewelry and hand-woven wool shawls in Hippie Market.
Barcelona //SPAIN //
Media outlets the world over are eager to declare Spain as the new go-to hot spot for travelers looking to soar. According to some decades-old Spanish laws regarding cannabis, people are allowed to grow and consume cannabis in private. Those same laws also have provisions that allow people to join together with others to form non-profit, member-only cannabis clubs. And recent estimates put the number of cannabis clubs in the country around 800, up from just 40 in 2010 according to some reports. In the Catalan region, where Barcelona is the capital, some 400 cannabis clubs have sprung up in recent years.
But these discrete private smokers clubs aren’t marked with that recognizable green cross symbol that’s on the dispensary storefronts in Colorado. It takes some sleuthing to find them and a membership fee to gain entry to them. But once you do get in, you’ll be able to consume as much of the local cannabis as you want inside the club.
Just don’t spend too much time there. In even the most unaltered state of mind, Barcelona is like walking through a dream. From the fabled modernista architecture to the twisting alleys of the Gothic Quarter, from the carnival-like promenade of La Rambla to the fantasy excesses of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família, the sun-drenched seaside city plays with your senses, all but demanding a visceral response. At the city’s myriad museums, Barcelona’s enchanting influence is visible in works by artists like Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró.
Cambodia, a tropical Asian nation located near Vietnam, is home to the Khmer people, one of the world’s first empires. Cambodia boasts a long, rich history of cannabis use, too. Marijuana is largely decriminalized around the country, so it’s not too difficult to find “happy smoke” if you’re willing to ask.
One thing Cambodia features that most places don’t—and this includes evergreen Colorado—are “happy restaurants.” These restaurants, mainly located in Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh, cook up THC-infused edible dishes composed of local cuisines. “Happy stir fry,” “happy pizza,” “happy noodles”—they’re all over the place. You can even order cannabis as a garnish for your meal.
After your THC-laden meal kicks in, check out Cambodia’s sites. The crème-de-la-crème of Cambodia’s world famous Apsara dancers can be found at special public events by the Royal Ballet. These dances include skilled contortionists in ornate golden garbs, with trippy movements guaranteed to stun even the most jaded Western minds. If you can’t catch the Royal Ballet, the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh and notable temples hold Apsara performances as well.
Cambodia also contains no shortage of awe-inspiring Buddhist and Hindu temples. These intricate, complex structures are some of the oldest religious buildings in the world, and they draw hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Must-sees include Angkor Wat for pure grandiosity, Angkor Thom if you’d like to stroll through an ancient city, and Bayon the “happy temple,” decorated with thousands of statues featuring smiling faces.