Politics and Pot

I’ve never liked politics. I might be going too far by saying that I hate it, but really I have no time for it. I went online to the Urban Dictionary for some definitions of “Politician” and laughed louder than I had done in many days. I get particularly annoyed however when it interferes in my own life to such an extent that it takes something away from it – aside from taxes. And so it is with the government shutdown.

Tourism is all about people taking time off to relax, have fun in a destination of choice and spend their hard-earned income on anything that gives them enjoyment and pleasure. We’re in the tourism industry and we become victims when politics intervenes to the extent that businesses involved in tourism take a direct hit and when vacations are effectively terminated. I’m not talking about the up-coming ski season necessarily – and I’m sure there may be side-effects of not just the current shutdown but increasing uncertainty as we approach the debt-ceiling deadline – but of how my own long-planned family vacation with another family on a houseboat in Lake Powell has been canceled.

America’s 401 national parks received 715,000 daily visits in October 2012, and contributed $76 million to local economies during each of those days according to the National Park Service (NPS).  Under the government shutdown, more than 21,000 members of the NPS were furloughed without pay. Domestic (me) and international travelers and the businesses that depend on them will tell you that bipartisan bickering in the two houses of Congress has had a direct and instantaneous effect on their lives.

American Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner wrote: “National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” And now, due to political wrangling and obstinacy, they,the people that work there and the vacationers who want to visit are being hardest hit. Actually, I do hate politics.

Moving on, as you probably know, thanks to the passage of Amendment 64, adults age 21 and up can begin to legally purchase pot beginning in January. Amendment 64 was passed by approximately 55 per cent of Colorado voters overall in 2012, but enjoyed an approval rate of 70-90 percent in the state’s ski towns.

Colorado actually became the first state in the U.S. to adopt rules for retail marijuana shops in the state. Colorado adult residents may possess up to an ounce of recreational marijuana, but adult tourists are only allowed to purchase up to a quarter of an ounce. Most mountain towns in Colorado have approved sales of recreational marijuana – excluding Vail and a few others which have imposed bans of some sort on recreational marijuana businesses.

Why is all this relevant, I hear you ask. Well, looking at it purely from a business angle (and just to let you know I don’t partake, in case you were wondering), it’s entirely conceivable that Colorado (hopefully excluding Vail but including Winter Park) may make out at Utah’s expense! I guess the proof will be in the smoking, but it certainly lends a new definition to Rocky Mountain High! Thank you John Denver. He knew what he was singing about.

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