BUSINESS

Howard Johnson Hotel In Grand Rapids, Michigan Catering To Pot Smokers

09/25/2013 04:00 pm ET | Updated Sep 26, 2013

A Michigan hotel is catering to a surprising tourism market -- pot smokers.

The Grand Rapids franchise of the Howard Johnson hotel chain is undergoing changes to turn some of its rooms into smoking rooms, which, Crain's Detroit Business reports, includes marijuana.

According to MLive, 70 of 155 rooms will be renovated to include patios and balconies where smoking is allowed. Owner Bob Sullivan told the news site he was spurred by a 2010 law that banned smoking in hotel rooms and other public spaces, which he said is a major inconvenience for smoking guests.

“If you’re in your pajamas, you’d have to get dressed and go outside the hotel," he said to MLive.

Though state laws got stricter for cigarette smokers, they've loosened in the last five years for marijuana users. While recreational pot is still illegal, medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan in 2008. Last year, Grand Rapids, like several other cities, took the further step of decriminalizing pot. Earlier this year, city police were directed to only issue civil infraction tickets for minor offenses.

Sullivan told Crain's that their smoking rooms, of which they currently have 20, are reaching full occupancy each weekend, and the hotel's general occupancy is increasing, too.

Hotels that allow marijuana smoking may become more common. In Colorado, where marijuana was legalized by voters last year, a taskforce decided in February to allow marijuana tourism.

Though Michigan isn't legally ready for pot tourism, the Detroit Metro Times published a handy map of Michigan's marijuana history, laws and landmarks. If you use it to plan a trip, you now know which hotel will welcome you with open arms ... and a knowing wink.

Read more about owner Bob Sullivan's thoughts on pot and Howard Johnson's response at Crain's Detroit Business.

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