Cannabis tourism has come a long way in just the two years since British diver Tim Acton opened a cannabis oil hotel in Essex, northeast of London. World famous for helping to save boys trapped in a cave in Thailand in the summer of 2018, Acton opened the cannabis plant-themed hotel the following year.
As billed by Metro in June 2019, the Green Coffee Lab and Leafy Hotel in Colchester, Essex opened with a stock of “cannabis infused cakes, coffee, tea, rum, gin and beer” to sell to guests. Reporting that the cannabis tourism hotel’s “light fittings are even made out of hemp,” (as well as legal CBD oil in the hotel’s food, drinks, and even shampoo).
The legality of cannabidiol (CBD) has been the subject of confusion and public scrutiny. As Metro noted, it was only last year that “Home Secretary Sajid Javid ruled that medicinal cannabis oil can be prescribed in the UK.” This came after “epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell, 13, had his cannabidiol medicine confiscated at Heathrow.”
Despite the murky waters, Acton and business partner Greg Land had actually been running Canna CBD for three years prior to expanding into the hotel business with their company’s legal CBD oil products. Green Coffee Lab was a short experiment, serving as a proof of concept pop-up for the business, though products are still available through Canna CBD’s website.
It did, however, show the attraction of cannabis tourism and how the U.K. is primed for a larger scale adoption. That is, if the law follows.
The U.K. Home Office’s loosening of cannabis restrictions for medical purposes applied to “full-spectrum cannabis oil,” a preparation containing all the cannabinoids found naturally in the marijuana plant, including Delta-9 THC, the one responsible for producing the plant’s characteristic profound changes in how its consumers feel and think.
The ruling came in the midst of a protracted legal battle to secure treatment for Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old boy suffering from severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy. That battle continued after the ruling. More recently, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced this April that he was launching a commission to look into decriminalizing cannabis.
CBD oil on the other hand consists of mostly cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of marijuana with widely-reported healing and relaxing properties. It was already legal in 2019, and by the end of the year, an estimated 1.3 million people living in the U.K. were consuming it.
When Canna CBD opened their CBD oil hotel in 2019, the Guardian called legal weed in Britain “a pipe dream.” Since then, the Guardian has seen a viable path forward for policy reform along the lines of successful legalization efforts in the United States.
Even as the fast-growing legal weed business hits hurdles along the way— grappling with regulatory uncertainty as well as the normal growing pains that accompany new industries worked mostly by startups— it has moved so fast, that travelers are beginning to notice a difference in green cities and states from just a year ago before the height of the pandemic.
Cannabis tourism has continued to grow as legal CBD– and increasingly– legal recreational marijuana products meet the hospitality industry. The growth in cannabis tourism has seen a number of marijuana-friendly hotels popping up across North America and other countries. Existing travel and hospitality companies have also begun to advertise their cannabis-friendliness, and even sell CBD and legal marijuana products to patrons.
Image Credit: The Green Coffee Lab began painting in early 2019. Google Maps, Kolleen Shallcross 2019