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  • This article by Ray Ring originally appeared in the Mar 28, 2013 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0


Pot pilgrims

News: Mar 28, 2013
by Ray Ring

Traveling in the clouds

"Marijuana tourists" are expected to converge on Colorado and Washington, hoping to score without fear of handcuffs, because voters in those states legalized recreational pot last November. Arthur Frommer, founder of the famous Frommer's Travel Guides, observes that "already, hotels in Seattle and Denver are reporting numerous requests for reservations by pot supporters planning visits." The ballot measures didn't prohibit purchases by out-of-staters, so now, both state governments are scrambling to craft regulations limiting marijuana tourists to small purchases -- maybe an eighth of an ounce, enough for five to 10 joints, reports The Wall Street Journal. A special Colorado "task force" of cops, marijuana businesspeople and legislators recommends that signs be installed in airports and along the state's borders "telling visitors they can't take pot home" to other states, AP reports. Dan Pablon, a Denver legislator, says firmly, "Marijuana purchased in Colorado must stay in Colorado." All this presumes that the Obama administration will hold off enforcing the federal ban on recreational pot.

*Heard 45.5*
Pre-emptive road rage? Courtesy Don Creclius

Fabulous Las Vegas

The millions of tourists on the Las Vegas Strip might have a hard time finding any trace of local history, given the proliferation of ever-more-absurd casino hotels mimicking exotic destinations –– the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, and who knows what else. But local officials are promoting a landmark that has been flashing since 1959 (around the time, many imagine, that Las Vegas history began). We're talking about the 25-foot-tall, diamond-and-star-shaped neon sign that proclaims: "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas." This sign was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, probably due to the power of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as much as to its national importance. Even people who've never been to Las Vegas know the sign because it often symbolizes the city in movies, news reports and YouTube videos. "People come from all over the world and want their picture taken ... by the sign," Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak told the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently. "It's oftentimes impossible to get a parking space (near it)." Rest assured: County officials are spending $800,000 to add about 20 new parking spaces near the fabulous sign, along with "button-controlled crosswalks and traffic lights to make pedestrian access easier," the Review-Journal reports. Mark Rumpler, a "tribute artist" who dons a white leather Elvis Presley costume to pose with the sign for tourists' snapshots, is among those happy about the improvements.

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HCN in the outhouses of the West

From my Alaska trip: I flew into a small town that is not reachable by road, then hopped on a motorboat and drove across lakes and rivers for 2.5 hours to reach the scientists' camp way out in the boondocks -- out there they have a few rough cabins and a generator that makes electricity only in the evening and two outhouses -- and lo and behold, for reading material in the outhouses they have issues of the Economist magazines and HCN -- amazing to discover HCN readers way out there!

Ray Ring, HCN Senior Editor

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