When it comes to cannabis tourism, no trip is compete without a sunset over take Michigan with a bit of orange sky, sand dunes and bare trees near the beach

Traveling and Cannabis Tourism in Michigan

Michigan is a four-season travel state, and a fair number of people who travel here take advantage of legal recreational cannabis or Michigan’s reciprocal medical marijuana program. As a result, we’re seeing cannabis tourism growing here.  Michigan welcomes the cannabis curious from nearby prohibition states like Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin and everyone who travels here to enjoy all that Michigan offers—including legal weed.

Cannabis tourism is a growing area for many communities in Michigan. Cities, villages, or townships that have opted in for recreational cannabis have the opportunity to promote them, but few do. Michigan has around 700 marijuana dispensaries in operation scattered throughout the state. And while you can’t buy legal recreational cannabis in Michigan’s largest city, Detroit (it’s medical only), you’ll find an abundance of provisioning stores in other tourist hotspots. Places up and down Michigan’s Lake Michigan coastline from Benton Harbor near the state line with Indiana to Muskegon have a variety of cannabis stores. In addition, you’ll find cannabis available in Bay City over in the Thumb region and in Up North places like Cadillac and Marquette and Houghton in the UP near Wisconsin. 

cannabis tourism is helped by Michigan's two cross lake ferries from Wisconsin. This photo taken from the Lake Express ferry shows the red lighthouse at the Muskegon harbor.

What proves to be perplexing for cannabis tourists or tourists who want cannabis is finding a place to consume and what to do with the cannabis you don’t consume while in the Mitten State.

Here’s a little list of where you can’t consume cannabis in Michigan. Some of it is Michigan law, and some are the preference of property owners.

  • In your car or driving or sitting in a vehicle on any Michigan roadway.
  • In a boat on a Michigan waterway
  • Out in public where anyone can see you smoking
  • On private property where cannabis is expressly prohibited
  • In most hotel/motel rooms or on hotel property
  • Around the campfire at the Michigan State Park or on a state park beach or trail
cannabis tourism in Michigan is one the rise and this image shows a red kayak in blue water  and the shore of Lake Michigan

It truly crimps your options, doesn’t it? Until more properties (hotels, motels and resorts) allow cannabis consumption, travelers will be challenged to find a place to consume. We wondered why this was the case.

“We have yet to see a community fully embrace cannabis; it’s still often held at arm’s length,” Andrew McFarlane from Michigan Cannabis Trail and Michigo said.

This disconnect is apparent where Michigan’s cannabis stores are most densely located and how they’re not embraced or even recognized by local visitor’s bureaus and Chamber of Commerce entities. 

You’d think Ann Arbor, Michigan’s historical epicenter of marijuana, would embrace the plant and stores in its geographical area—but that’s not the case. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for established organizations to change and adopt a formerly illegal substance.

“There are certainly a large group of people who still think that cannabis is a bad thing—and until they’re no longer in leadership positions, we’ll always have roadblocks,” Andrew said.

There’s no legal or ethical reason that a visitor’s bureau can’t list a cannabis business as a traveler’s destination. It’s a matter of will and desire.

Andrew also pointed out that the Visitor’s Bureau in Modesto, California, has its Motown CannaPass that people can register for, which unlocks information and cannabis-friendly businesses in the community. “It’s normalizing the cannabis experience and promoting community businesses—which they should be doing,” he said. 

He noted that at least seven licenses are in progress for cannabis consumption lounges in the state. However, none have opened as of early 2022. These lounges are bound to be a focal point for

For people traveling in Michigan who are looking for options when it comes to a consumption space, you’ll have to look carefully and plan accordingly. Finding a place to stay that is cool with cannabis is the first step—Michigan Cannabis Trail and Bud and Breakfast websites offer some options. 

cannabis tourism in Michigan involves the out of doors like this wooded trail with white birch trees and green pines.

Here’s something we found interesting—you can consume in a Michigan State Park, but not in public (see the campfire note above). So you can consume cannabis in your tent or camper. Of course, it’s not as cool as sitting around the fire or walking on the beach, but it’s something. 

If you’re in town for the annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor on the first Saturday in April—that’s a fun spot to light up. In addition, organized cannabis events are popping up across Michigan. These licensed events allow consumption and have sales in the same place—usually with live music and other cannabis-centric activities. Expect to find them throughout the summer of 2022.

As you travel in Michigan, be discrete where you fire up, and you’ll be fine.

View From the Front Seat of the Cannabis Bus

It’s hard to find an experience that compares to a cannabis bus tour. Maybe be a basement pot party circa 1977; or perhaps a frat house at a Midwestern college known for partying or maybe if you have 30 friends who all love cannabis and happen to be in the same place at the same time. Put one of those experiences on wheels and you’ll get a feel for a Colorado Cannabis Tour. Our tour, on 4/21 was more fun than expected and an experience we’d recommend should you find yourself in the Mile High city.

The tour on a limo/party bus departed from The Cheeba Hut in downtown Denver, where tour staff checked IDs and distributed waivers. “You might want to get a sandwich—there’s no stop for lunch, but we do have plenty of water and pop,” she said. Advice taken.

Tour bus guides
Shannon and Dan (aka Dannon)

With sandwiches and chips in hand, we boarded and were welcomed by Dan and Shannon. They laid out the itinerary and the rules: use the red Solo cups with ice as ashtrays and remain seated. That was it. They also advised saving edibles for later, as people tend to eat too much resulting in a bad time. Fair enough.

Before the bus turned the corner, people fired up and got down to getting high. Joints, pre-rolls for the most part, were passed to the left, to the right and across the aisle. I observed a joint I started travel from hand to hand to the very back end of the bus and back up toward me again. It’s making a ‘J’, I thought to myself, laughing at the idea. I’d guess there were a dozen joints burning as we rolled along.

Our first stop was River Rock dispensary. It was good to get away from some of the crowded shops downtown that were packed for the high holiday. Our fellow bus riders loaded up, giving particular attention to the Kahlifa Kush (aka Wiz Kahlifa OG). We bought some edibles—thinking that we needed something inconspicuous to put in our luggage. Plus, who can resist a cannabis-infused chili chocolate bar?

We made another stop at a glass-selling shop—the owner—complete with a broken middle finger, told jokes while blowing a glass pipe. He was incredibly focused for a pothead playing with a thousand degree flame.

Owner of Medicine Man dispensary and a cannabis leaf
The Medicine Man and His Leaf

Third stop was Medicine Man, a well-established cannabis growing operation and dispensary where Pete Williams, a member of “The First Family of Legal Marijuana“, gave a tour of his growing operations where they’re harvesting more than 50 plants each day. He talked enthusiastically about the biology of cannabis growing and cloning processes. Despite his jokes about sexual harassment, (never funny, dude) it was the most educational and memorable part of the tour.

People smoking on a bus
Puff Puff Pass

In between stops, the guides talked a little about cannabis in Colorado. But, interesting data and factual information was missing, which would have been interesting, as many of the us were 4/20 visitors. A few more details about dollar amounts and where the taxes go specifically would have been cool—before everyone got too stoned to care. Dan and Shannon were good about passing out water and passing around a big bong and steamroller. There was no shortage of pot. They also shared a snack mix of gummy bears and popcorn—a previously unknown, but worthy combination.

Is a cannabis tour worth it? Like any experience, it’s all about what you put into it and what you’re looking for. This was just fun—a different place to smoke up with a bunch of like-minded strangers and get around Denver without having to think too hard about it.