LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) — Cannabis tourism is now one of the most popular trends in the travel world. Are you surprised, really?
With more and more states legalizing recreational cannabis, the travel business opportunities around the country are seemingly endless. There are wellness retreats with the likes of Ganja Goddesses and Cannabliss. There are companies that act like national travel agencies, such as Kush Tourism, and others that are localized specialists, City Sessions in Denver. We could go on, but we’d be here for a very long time.
Heidi Keyes runs Cannabis Tours, similar to a travel agency, and operates in Northern and Southern California, Las Vegas, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon, and she plans to expand into more states as they legalize.
Under the Cannabis Tours umbrella, Keyes operates Puff Pass and Paint, a riff on the popular “paint and sip” classes with wine. But at this art class, which caters to locals and tourists alike, people take hits of bongs and joints. We met with Keyes at Puff Pass and Paint Oakland, where she explained that the growing appeal of this sector of cannabis tourism is rooted in cultivating a person's childlike creativity.
“A lot of people in our classes say they haven’t painted since they were in kindergarten," Keyes said. "And so, cannabis actually helps them relax into it and actually enjoy the process of painting and laughing together and passing a joint.”
The appeal of weed and art is fairly easy to see, so it’s no surprise that Keyes says these classes are by far one of the most in-demand of all the tours she runs.
Another wildly popular sector of cannabis tourism is the wellness retreat, like the ubiquitous yoga retreats, except entirely centered around cannabis experiences.
Flower Bullock already runs a very popular baking company called Stoner Girl Treats and Eats. Now, she’s hoping to turn her new, 40-acre property in quaint San Miguel, California, into a “bud-and-breakfast” where people can camp on the property, learn how to farm, care for animals and learn how to grow weed. It will be the aptly named Stoner Girl Farm Retreat, once she has it up and running.
But Bullock has an advantage over other wellness retreats. Just a few minutes away from her is Paso Robles, one of the most famous wine regions in California. Her idea is to capitalize on the proximity to her famous neighbors by learning from them and incorporating wine into the weed tourism.
“We wanna work with our local wineries, you know what I mean? We're taking a page out of their book. We're learning what they do," Bullock said. "We go and we visit our neighbors and we see how they cultivate, how they grow, what it takes to actually have a successful bed-and-breakfast. You know what I mean? We just have a completely different take on it.”
There is one constant between all these various sectors of cannabis tourism, though. It’s extraordinarily difficult to stay ahead of the ever-changing cannabis regulations.
“The laws are different from state, to county, to city, to neighborhood, to sometimes even one street over that you’re operating on,” said Keyes. “So, we’re always really worried about making sure everything we do is always legal.”
And especially so for Keyes, with Cannabis Tours' multistate operation.
Bullock agrees. She says the experience in building up her bud-and-breakfast has been eye-opening, and has taught her to be much more patient.
Despite the legal challenges and setbacks, something tells us cannabis tourism is only going up from here.