ANN ARBOR – Cannabis business entrepreneur Charlie Strackbein started the Ann Arbor Monroe Street Fair two decades ago to provide support for the Ann Arbor Hash Bash, a counterculture weed festival that began in April 1972 on the Diag at the University of Michigan.
This year’s installment is scheduled for Saturday April 4 and will mark the first time in the event’s history that recreational marijuana is legal in Michigan. Strackbein said legalization will draw at least the same 25,000 or so cannabis enthusiasts who attended last year, and probably many more.
What’s now become a huge cannabis tourist attraction – pumping upwards of $27 million into the metro Ann Arbor economy – also has become the inspiration for Strackbein’s latest business idea Michigan Cannabis Tourism & Hospitality VIP Group.
“I hope to instill in all of the people in the industry that Michigan, already a top tourist destination recognized for its Pure Michigan great Lakes features, can with some industry focus become a top cannabis tourism destination,” Strackbein said in an interview with Mike Brennan, Editor of the Michigan Marijuana Report.
“Michigan can lead cannabis tourism if we all come together to express how each of our businesses can become part of the attraction,” he said. “I want to put together a tourist guide and network with 420-friendly Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants, cultivators and dispensaries. Hotels and restaurants can’t let people smoke openly, but maybe they could create special smoking rooms, much like the Cannabis cafe experience you find in Amsterdam, Netherlands.”
On the group’s Facebook page, Strackbein invites his members to “share all your interesting cannabis friendly, attractions, hotels, restaurants, features, events and tours from Michigan, the United States and beyond. Tell us about your cannabis travels. Ask advice, questions and travel tips from other private VIP group members. Most importantly we can express our inner desire of adventure, travel and search for the rare, different and curiously interesting.”
He adds: “Safe access to cannabis and cannabis related stuff is a key travel value of mine. I hope this page becomes a valuable cannabis vacation, travel and tourism resource for all.”
The Monroe Street Fair alone can accommodate 5000 or so people at a time who can check out dozens of booths selling a variety of cannabis paraphernalia. Some of the booth revenue goes towards paying for the infrastructure that supports the Hash Bash, Strackbein said. Those include toilets, water and garbage pick-up to name a few.
Strackbein said the Fair’s theme this year, reflecting the values of Ann Arbor, is focused on sustainability and the environment. Other themes are wellness, arts and crafts, volunteers and non-profits. But in the end, the Fair and the Hash Bash provide a safe place for cannabis enthusiasts to enjoy a smoke and share the experience with thousands of their new friends.
For more information on the Ann Arbor Monroe Street Fair, click on https://monroestreetfair.com