Surprise: this state is an unexpected weed tourism epicenter

midwest cannabis tourism

The creative businesses sprouting around the legalization movement are ever-growing and changing. However, expansion into weed-friendly offerings is often hindered by strict regulations that make tourism and event planning complicated. Despite such complications, Michigan continues pushing the boundaries of American cannabis tourism.

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Traditional tourism has been a top-five economic driver in Michigan for some time. The tourism industry provided 1-in-18 jobs in the Great Lake State in 2022, according to Moody on the Market. This is no accident. The state has put big money into its Pure Michigan tourism campaign (not to be confused with the Pure Michigan strain).

Michigan’s thriving travel scene may make the success of cannabis tourism a no-brainer. However, states like Washington bring in similar yearly tourism tax revenue with a lengthier legalization period, and cannabis tourism has yet to emerge as a viable sector.

Cannabis tourism in Michigan

Connie Sparrow, owner and operator of Derive Travel, Superhost of multiple cannabis-friendly rentals in Michigan, and co-founder of event company Grams & Jams, let us in on some of the magic that makes weed tourism possible in the “Water Wonderland.”

“With Michigan bordering five states, it’s a prime target for tourism and travel regardless of cannabis,” Sparrow explained. “Our border communities like New Buffalo, Menominee, and Monroe, all within a two-hour drive from major metropolitan areas like Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis–we are smack dab in the middle of either illegal states or immature states with new recreational markets with much higher prices.”

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As Sparrow tells it, Michigan is in the eye of a perfect storm: low prices, high-quality cannabis, thriving tourism, and neighbors with little to no access to their home states. Looking at the bigger picture there’s one detail missing: the regulations to let it all happen.

Public consumption is prohibited in the state. However, there are three consumption lounges open now, with the promise of more to come. In addition, companies are finding success in throwing parties, concerts, and festivals with the temporary event licenses allowed by the state.

Michigan weed events and venues

Cannabash started as a legal consumption event in 2022 organized by Grams & Jams. By 2023, it had grown to 12,000 attendees. After learning over the last two years, the event production company decided a permanent venue would save resources.

So, Grams & Jams expanded to a permanent venue, Field of Greens, that will open in the summer. Guests will be legally allowed to consume both cannabis and alcohol at the Western Michigan venue at music festivals and other events on the Greens. While many Michiganders day-trip for weed tourism, parties like Cannabash bring in a flood of curious visitors from neighboring states.

Fields Cannary hopes to be a destination hub for cannabis tourism in Lansing, serving the same purpose as a brewery does to craft beer. The plan is to become a full-on cannabis campus. Visitors will find a dispensary, lounge, restaurant, cultivation, and property. Within the vision, walk-in visitors can pop in and partake, or it can be booked for special events like weddings or birthday parties. However, it has yet to secure funding.

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Co-founder and CEO Edgar Ramon has been hosting cannabis events for years and agrees with Sparrow– having a permanent venue is essential. “Finding a location that will allow consumption. Even with being number two in sales, the majority of municipalities in Michigan have not opted into cannabis,” Ramon said.

Those who haven’t opted in may soon feel they are missing out. At the beginning of 2024, the state announced it would be distributing $87 million in cannabis tax revenue to participating localities. But tourists aren’t smoking their way through Michigan because of tax revenue; it’s due to well-executed consumption events, cannabis-friendly lodgings, and, most of all, great weed.

Cannabis tourism is no easy feat in a country that bought in on reefer madness. With decades of activism, more legal states than ever, and some pioneers in events and lodging–Michigan is seemingly overcoming the stigma. With Sparrow seemingly at the center, the Great Lakes State is making a name for itself as a hub for the Midwest cannabis tourism.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.