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Colo. tourism industry won't promote pot

By Rana Novini, Anchor/Reporter, r.novini@krdo.com
Published On: Apr 23 2014 11:55:27 PM CDT

Love it or hate it, Colorado's budding marijuana industry is changing the way people view the Centennial state.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Love it or hate it, Colorado's budding marijuana industry is changing the way people view the Centennial state.

There was the Superbowl quip -- the two states that legalized marijuana competed head to head for the Vince Lombardi Trophy -- complete with memes and jokes on every talk show.

There was the Spirit Airlines ad that read, "The no smoking sign is off (in Colorado). Get 'mile high' with $10 off your next flight."

But according to the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitor's Bureau, the new image hasn't affected tourism and it's not promoting pot.

"There's this huge misconception that there's usage and we're the new Amsterdam and that couldn't be further from the case," said Chelsy Murphy, director of communications for the CVB.  "The only way we encourage people to get high is to go up Pikes Peak or hike the Manitou Incline."

Still, it's hard to deny the fact that people are coming to Colorado for cannabis, whether it be recreational or medicinal.

Jordan Stanley and his brothers grow a strain of cannabis known as "Charlotte's Web."  It's been attributed to helping children with seizures.

"We have people contacting us, sometimes 500 calls a week, people all over the world, all over the country who are interested in helping their child," Stanley said.

A woman visiting from Wyoming told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that she believes Colorado's reputation has improved since legalizing marijuana and that even if people are visiting for pot, it just enhances tourism to its other attractions.

But there may be a flip side to the reefer reputation.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 has reported several incidents of license plate profiling.  Law enforcement from other states are said to be stopping cars with Colorado plates just to check for marijuana.

Michael Abuzeide, a Colorado resident, said he's noticed a shift in Colorado's reputation, but believes people aren't just visiting Colorado to get pot.

"Marijuana is not the first thing on anyone's mind," Abuzeide said.  "Even avid pot enthusiasts don't care about it more than anything else. People come to Colorado to snowboard, to ski, to hike, to fish.  There's so many activities. You will never show me a bud that takes my breath away the way that the high Rockies or the Garden of the Gods or any part of Colorado does."

Pueblo Chamber of Commerce also said it doesn't promote marijuana tourism or keep track of how many people are visiting just for marijuana.

What do you think? Has marijuana legalization changed the image of Colorado? Do you think it will affect tourism? Leave us a comment in the section below.

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