Marketing medical marijuana

Add "ganjatourism" to the growing vernacular surrounding Montana's medical marijuana industry.

Tom Daubert, founder of Patients and Families United, a group that lobbies for marijuana patients' ri-ghts in Helena, has begun a venture called Cannabis Vacations, which sells Montana-based vacation packag-es for medical marijuana patients around the country.

"Montana's obviously already a vacation destination for a lot of folks—tourism is our second largest industry—and medical marijuana patients in other states represent a significant market that could be attracted to taking a vacation here by virtue of the reciprocity of our law," Daubert says.

Montana's Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in 2004, honors medical marijuana cards issued by the other 13 states with medical marijuana programs. It's one of only four states with such a provision.

But, as with other components of Montana's law, marijuana tourism touches on legal gray areas. The law fails to explicitly give Montana-based caregivers the right to supply medicine to out-of-state patients. The law is clear, though, that out-of-state patients can possess marijuana in Montana.

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Despite the legal ambiguity, Cannabis Vacations has been operating since summer, Daubert says, and the under-construction website——advertises its various vacation packages, including fishing, floating, backpacking and staying at a dude ranch.

The website reads: "Feel like taking a white-water rafting trip with other medical marijuana patients? Want to tour a frontier ghost town, or enjoy some of the world's best fly-fishing, in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains—without having to forgo your medical marijuana?"

So far, Daubert says only three people have used the service, but he expects more customers as he begins marketing it.

"It's not any different than anyone from some other state deciding to take a vacation here who isn't a cannabis patient," Daubert says. "It's just that for a patient from another state, the attraction is that one need not fear any legal risk in using legal medicine while here."

Plus, he believes the state could find it quite lucrative.

"Compassion for legitimate patients from anywhere in the country could be a useful new marketing tool for the state," he says.

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