Cannabis friendly campgrounds are a relatively recent innovation that has taken the cannabis community by storm. Set between the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the forests of the Pacific Northwest, they offer a respite from the normal daily grind for cannabis enthusiasts who want to relax and escape. They also create a unique niche market for camping enthusiasts across the country.

In order to legally function as a campground, a property must have on-site plumbing and electricity. Even though state laws often allow for the operation of a “private camping area,” which is typically in the 100-200 ft range, it is still illegal to camp within those boundaries unless you have the means to provide services like water, lighting, and electricity. Even though cannabis is legal in many states, making a legal campground out of a private home or land is a complicated process, and many find it necessary to employ a few sneaky tactics to provide the services that the law allows for.

Since the first legal cannabis market appeared, we have been faced with the chicken or the egg problem….. You can buy weed legally, but you can’t find a legal place to use it. Most states have laws prohibiting the use of cannabis in public, so you can only smoke on private property. If you live in this state, it’s not a problem. But imagine you’re in Vegas and you walk into Planet 13, the world’s largest pharmacy, located on the Strip and designed to attract tourists. You shop and only then find out that the hotel or Airbnb you’re staying at is cannabis-free.

Smoking is prohibited in public places on the Strip, and although newly approved, no legal lounges have yet opened in the state. What is a law-abiding smoker to do in such a situation?

One way for savvy cannabis owners to get around the regulatory frenzy of opening a consumption area is to open cannabis-friendly campgrounds. It makes sense when you think about it. It falls under private property laws, and weed is usually a nice addition to any outdoor adventure, but if cannabis use is allowed, can the land be legally registered as a public campsite? This is where the law gets a little confusing, so let’s take a closer look at it.

It’s summer, it’s closing time, and people are going out more than ever. Cannabis products can really take your adventure to a whole new level, but choosing what to bring can be a challenge.

Smoking outdoors

Edibles are fine, and even vaping can be pretty low-key, but what about the old-school folks who still like to smoke flowers and certainly enjoy lighting up a good joint or bowl while camping, hiking, or interacting with nature. It’s fun, it’s relaxing, and it’s like a rite of passage; but is it legal?

This issue is a little more complicated and depends entirely on where you are – and no, I don’t mean whether you are in a constitutional state or not. This question depends on whether you want to hike in a national park, on BLM land, or on private land. If you are in a national park, use cannabis at your own risk, as national parks follow federal regulations. This means that cannabis and some CBD products are prohibited in campgrounds, while traveling, and in the field – at all times.

This is also the case for BLM land. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management. Any area under their jurisdiction is considered federal land and state laws do not apply there, so yes, cannabis use and possession is technically illegal on BLM land. In my experience, it’s very simple here. Some BLM agents (in legal states) are very lenient, while others are stricter than the police. Use at your own risk.

State parks may be slightly different depending on the state you are in, but the laws are not really different from those of national parks. According to Adeline Yee, California State Parks information officer, by law, people 21 and older are allowed to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana. However, smoking or consuming cannabis products in public places remains illegal and cannot be done in state parks, which are public lands.

So while you won’t get in trouble in some state parks if you have cannabis products with you, you won’t be able to consume them unless you’re on private property. Walking on private property is a different story. For example, where I’m from, near Joshua Tree, there is a private land of over 600 acres owned by a man who advocates growing grass. There are miles of hiking trails and smoking is allowed on the property, provided local rules regarding trash and waste prevention are followed.

Hemp Camping Details

Camping has become increasingly popular in recent years, but especially since the COVID 19 pandemic. While traditional forms of recreation such as restaurants, bars and festivals closed for months, people eager to get out of their homes moved into nature. By 2020, national parks welcomed more than 237 million visitors, and that number continues to grow.

With cannabis use becoming increasingly popular, it’s no surprise that cannabis-friendly campsites are on the rise as well. Michigan, Maine, Illinois, the entire West Coast, and even the Four Corners region in the Southwest offer 420 campsites. Campers will generally find the same amenities as in regular campgrounds, such as picnic tables, fire pits, kayaking, swimming, grilling, etc.

One of the immediately noticeable differences is the decor. Many of the pavilions and tents will be decorated with grass leaf fabrics, psychedelic paintings, weird flowers and other stoner-themed decorations. And of course, unlike other campgrounds, smoking pot is encouraged and drinking alcohol discouraged, and some places even ban alcohol and smoking altogether. The campsites operate on a BYOB – bring your own bump – basis, but cannabis-related memorabilia and paraphernalia can be found.

I don’t want it to be embarrassing. It’s a drug, it’s legal, and I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable or weird about it. I want them to be safe, says Debi Bair, owner of Camp Happy Trees in Michigan. I like camping… It’s a whole different atmosphere. It’s quiet, no rush. You can sit by the tree and relax.

As it stands, cannabis campsites are allowed because they are in a loophole. As neither a pharmacy nor a social drinking club is involved, the usual state regulations do not apply to these two established industries.

To open a recreational cannabis lounge, the location must first have a licensed dispensing facility and operate in the same manner as bars, in that all cannabis consumed on-site must be purchased on-site. They are starting to take off, but they are still not legal for adults in most states, and the licensing process is a nightmare.

Most legal markets allow cannabis consumption on private property only with the express permission of the owner, which is undoubtedly annoying and frustrating for tourists. This is where cannabis camping comes in – it is private property and all visitors must have a permit to use the campsite. The issues of camping fees and the various legal obligations are the most complicated.

David Heidrich, spokesman for the Office of Marijuana Policy, advises all businesses to be careful about becoming cannabis-friendly and to seek legal advice before making a decision. There are still many unanswered questions about the law, he said, simply because it is an untested area.

What about 420-friendly Airbnbs?

Cannabis-friendly vacation rentals are part of another legal gray area, one of those things that is still legal because no one has banned it. Cannabis is legal in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., but of course there is no legal place to consume it unless you own property in the area. Landlords in D.C. have a great deal of autonomy in how they are allowed to use their personal space, so short-term rentals that meet the 420 standards can often be found throughout the city.

In D.C., you can do whatever you want in your home. So why not have a safe space for people to consume cannabis, sightsee and relax in a healthy way, says Ayana Everett, a local owner. Everett operates A High Escape from an apartment near several city attractions, where guests can relax with two free fat prerolls when they check in. His apartment is currently advertised on a website called Bud and Breakfast, a lodging and hotel site similar to Airbnb, but with cannabis-friendly offers. This is a growing trend in constitutional states.

They come on vacation, but not to be arrested or fined for cannabis use, Everett said. You’re here to enjoy yourself. That safe space is really the main reason I wanted to offer my space. Airbnb doesn’t have an official policy on cannabis, so it’s up to the host to decide if they allow it or not, but Bud and Breakfast takes the guesswork out of asking if it’s allowed.

As with cannabis camps, the legal confusion stems from the fact that money is being exchanged. Of course it’s legal to invite people into your home to smoke, but if you accept donations for their stay and you have a short-term rental license in your city or county, do different rules apply? Again, Airbnb’s website says this is entirely up to the landlord, but each city may have different local ordinances on this, so it’s hard to say exactly what is legal and where.

Final thoughts

Getting high and living outside go hand in hand, but finding a place to do it legally can be difficult. Cannabis campgrounds exist to bridge the misunderstood gap between private and public consumption by providing cannabis and nature lovers with a safe, fun, and non-judgmental outdoor experience.

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