Pot tourism could be coming to Washington

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by Wayne Havrelly

NWCN.com

Posted on November 10, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 4 at 4:48 PM

PORTLAND -- Originally a logging town, Stevenson, Wash. reinvented itself into a tourist destination after federal timber money dried up. 

With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State, some believe the future of tourism in Skamania County may light up even more.

"I just think there's a lot of people who think it could be a good thing for economic development," said Casey Roeder, with the Skamania County Chamber of Commerce. 

Tourism in Stevenson started 20 years ago, when Skamania Lodge opened for business. Today, the county is also known for award winning-microbreweries and restaurants. 

Very soon, even more visitors could make the drive over the Bridge of the Gods to purchase and enjoy pot. 

"If you are coming to this beautiful place because of marijuana and you are going to spend money while you are here, we're OK with that," said Roeder.

Skamania County was the only county in southern Washington in favor of legalizing pot. Those who live there were not surprised. 

"Our county seems to have a lot more artistic folks," said Rob Cummings who works in Stevenson. 

"Why do things that don't hurt anyone have to be crimes?," said Charlie Clonch.

Some residents worry that legal marijuana will hurt the community. They would hate to see everything go up in smoke.

"I personally think it's a gateway drug, " said Jean Foster.   "I'm older from a generation that thinks there has to be strict boundaries."

Business leaders in Stevenson say they can't ignore the money making potential of the new law.  They wonder if marijuana related businesses might be what finally fills the remaining vacant storefronts in this town that continues to reinvent itself.

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