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UK | Cannabis Travel Destination

Due to being a charter flight attendant in my 20s, I’ve been to some of the weirdest places in the world… I mean, I had no idea that the country of Kyrgyzstan existed before 2009, and I ended up spending 6 months there as my home base. However, I had NEVER been to the UK (besides flying through the airport), and my boyfriend and I found cheap tickets from Denver and decided to plan a trip there to see our favorite podcast (called My Dad Wrote a Porno, if you’ve heard of it), which was doing live events in Dublin!

We always use Scott’s Cheap Flights for great flight deals, and we found non-stop flights to London for around $300. We left on a Friday night so that we could both work a full day that Friday, stay for 5 weeknights, and come back on the following Sunday. Time off is precious, so we wanted to make sure we were able to fully utilize 2 weekends and only take off the time in between (although I continued to work while I traveled… that’s the life of a business owner!).

UK Cannabis Travel | Heidi Keyes

We flew into London and booked a hotel in the Shoreditch district, which is a little bit outside of the actual touristy area… this meant that for one, it was a bit cheaper, and two, we got a lot more of the local flavor of people who live there going out for drinks and meals with their friends. The public transport in London is INCREDIBLE, and one of my favorite things… you just need to tap your card when entering the train to buy a ticket, no advance purchase needed! This makes it really easy to stay anywhere in the city, and still be able to get around and see everything you want to.

In London, we did all of the typical tourist attractions like the Tower of London, the London Eye, and Buckingham Palace, but our favorite spot by far was a local Indian restaurant called Dishoom. Dishoom has 3 locations in London, and they are always packed (for good reason), so definitely book a reservation ahead if possible. We went to the Covent Garden location and absolutely fell in love… the food and service were incredible, the ambiance was inspiring, and even the music was great. We started with Veda Pau (a crunchy potato bun), and then did a Sheekh Kebab and Chicken Berry Britannia Biryani (with a side of yogurt for dipping!) for our meal. It was one of the best lunches I’ve had in my life.

UK Cannabis Travel | Heidi Keyes

We wanted to hit up a bit of England, Scotland, and Ireland since both of us had never been to any of them before. We decided to take a train to Edinburgh from London, which was about $30 per person, and took 4 hours. The trains are incredibly efficient, leave on time, and even offer food and beverage service delivered right to your seat, so this was a great choice for both saving time on going to the airport and saving money on a flight.

Edinburgh was absolutely magical! We stayed in a small hotel right off of Princes Avenue, with a view of the castle from below and on the opposite side of the Old City. A ghost tour with City of the Dead Tours set us each back about $20, and was COMPLETELY worth it to learn about the history of the city, and we were even able to go into the underground vaults with our guide. Other than that, for our two days in Edinburgh, we ate and drank our way around the city. Fish and chips and a wide variety of meat pies are absolutely the way to go.

UK Cannabis Travel | Heidi Keyes

After 2 days in Edinburgh, we took a flight on RyanAir to Dublin. RyanAir flights are no-nonsense and extremely cheap (think of it as the Spirit Airlines of Europe), but we’re all about saving money and less about comfort… it’s only a short flight, so it didn’t matter! Our tickets were around $25 each including our baggage, which we paid extra for up front so that we could carry our suitcases. We landed in Dublin, and immediately rented a car. The UK drives on the wrong side of the road, AND they typically drive stick, so this was definitely something that my boyfriend had to get used to… and quickly, since we were stuck in rush-hour traffic!

Renting a stick-shift car instead of an automatic saved us around $500 for 2 days, but you definitely need someone in your party who can drive stick confidently (which was not me!).

We drove around 3 hours from Dublin, which is on the East coast of Ireland, to Miltown Malbay on the West coast, which is right on the water and within a few miles of the infamous Cliffs of Moher. This was our favorite part of the entire trip, and although the driving (and the car!) was a hassle, it was without a doubt worth the effort. When you’re in rural Ireland, especially in the off-season, I cannot recommend enough going into small village pubs and chatting with the locals. Not only are the people in Ireland incredibly friendly (they love to talk about their country), but I was able to chat with them about what I do, and how cannabis is perceived in the UK. On Matt’s birthday, we happened into a tiny pub in the town of Miltown Malbay called O’Laughlins, which is a family-owned joint that has been passed down for three generations. One bar patron, Brian, who is (send-admittedly) a lobster fisherman by morning and a beer drinker by the afternoon, said that “90% of the people he knows consume cannabis, especially the older people. During COVID, when people had to stop working, there wasn’t much else to do besides drink beer… and cannabis was a healthier and less destructive option (couldn’t agree more, Brian)”.

UK Cannabis Travel | Heidi Keyes

The Cliffs of Moher is a very popular tourist attraction in this area, especially for a sunny, dry, and cloud-free day like we had, but if you hike around a mile away from the main entrance, everything opens up and you’re alone on miles and miles of trails along the coast and across gorgeous pastures filled with grazing sheep and cattle. We hiked 5 miles north to the town of Doolin, which is a tiny coastal tine that has a few shops and pubs. After a brew, we took a taxi back to our car, which was parked back by the Cliffs of Moher visitor’s station. I have never been anywhere as beautiful in my entire life, and I would recommend it wildly and without abandon, even if you don’t like to hike! Matt and I actually ended up getting engaged here, so this spot will be a special place in my heart for my entire life.

The city of Dublin is very different from the countryside, but worth checking out for a day or two. The Trinity College and Temple Bar area boast plenty of fantastic pubs, restaurants, and shops, and there are old castles within the city that are available to tour as well. We didn’t have enough time, but a 40-minute train will get you to the beautiful coastal city of Howth… it’s on our list for next time!

Cannabis in the United Kingdom is currently illegal for recreational use and is classified as a Class B drug. In 2004, cannabis was changed to Class C drug, which has less severe penalties, but it was changed again to Class B in 2009. Medical use was legalized in 2018. Strangely enough, although cannabis is still illegal in the UK, the United Kingdom is said to be one of the world’s largest exporters.

UK Cannabis Travel | Heidi Keyes

I spoke with Katherine Baxter PhD, who lived in Scotland for 8 years and worked for the Scottish government, about the current state of legalization in the UK. She said that “whilst cannabis is widely enjoyed across demographics and regions in the UK, efforts to legalize it are still controversial given the fairly even split among the British public on whether it should be removed as a class B drug and approved for recreational use. In Scotland, where medical marijuana was legalized in 2020, the public are more in favor of this change as part of a more general, progressive shift towards the decriminalization/destigmatization of substance use. Here’s hoping the trend will continue and that this common practice will no longer have to be enjoyed illicitly!”

Although I prefer to take my trips to places where Cannabis is legal and there are fewer barriers to purchasing product and actual consumption, our trip to the UK was absolutely fantastic and one of the best weeks of my life. We were able to do it in a completely affordable manner, and were able to see four different cities while only taking a few days off of work. Cannabis is still continuing to legalize around the world, and normalization can only help the progress. That’s where you come in. 


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