Category: Pot

Is Cannabis Legalization Pinching Your Travel Budget?

rotating_globeBY ED MURRIETA

Bucket lists are brimming with cannabis destinations as cultural and legal walls restricting growing, selling, buying and consuming the botanical herb fall across the Americas and tolerance reigns in some European cities.

Uruguay. Barcelona. Thailand. Toronto. Jamaica. Colorado. Las Vegas. Vancouver. San Francisco. Amsterdam.

Where will you spend your cannabis travel dollars in 2018?

What do you want for what you’ll spend?

Up In Smoke 1978 Movie Review: L.A. Times Wasn’t Amused


Up In Smoke, Cheech and Chong’s cinematic 1978 stoner classic, marks its 40th anniversary this year. Here’s how the Los Angeles Times reviewed the movie upon its release.


Ed Murrieta’s Cannabis Lounge Pitch Deck

Wherever cannabis is legal, the public needs safe and comfortable places to smoke pot and socialize. Here’s a vision for such a place, even a chain of smoking lounges. 


Toasting the Time Sky-High Pot Taxes Drove Me to Drink

A hedonist child of the Seventies, I could only content myself with cannabis and coffee buzzes for so long.



I stopped drinking alcohol to save money.

I started drinking alcohol again to save money.

I jumped on the non-drinking wagon after being forced to live on a food-stamps budget.

I jumped off the wagon because the price of pot skyrocketed.

What I sought and rediscovered: pleasurable pairings of pot and booze — both the flavors and the effects.

A hedonist child of the Seventies, I could only content myself with cannabis and coffee buzzes for so long. Historic regulations that began Jan. 1 imposed sky-high taxes on legal California cannabis, increasing the out-the-door price of the $50 budget half-ounces I buy to $61.50, virtually pinching my weekly stash by two joints,

Right now, I’m dipping my toes back into drinking slowly and cheaply.  No more bottles of Robert Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel or six packs of Anchor Brewing’s Breckle’s Brown Ale — now mere memories from my expense-account food journalism days. Jugs of Carlo Rossi Burgundy and cans of Mickey’s Malt Liquor have, so far, paired nicely with my favorite strain of the moment, Mr. Nice Guy, which is stretching further now thanks to evening drinks.

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Cannabis Tourism Is a Thing in California

San Francisco Chronicle Travel section dives into Golden State’s legal new attraction.



I’ve got two stories in the San Francisco Chronicle’s California cannabis travel package today.

Here’s my story on the Top 5 California cannabis tourist destinations.

Here’s my story on the best cannabis-friendly lodgings.

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California Traffic Safety Agency Pulls Ad Depicting Responsible Cannabis Users

California TV ad steered sober on stoned driving. Now it’s been yanked off the air and removed from YouTube.


SACRAMENTO — A federally funded California agency that produced a public-service advertisement depicting cannabis users as responsible people who chose not to drive under the influence of the Golden State’s newest legal intoxicant has pulled the daring commercial from television and YouTube.

California’s Office of Traffic Safety, which solicits and distributes funds from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, released the anti-pot-driving PSA in the last week of December. The 30-second spot ran for about a week on local and cable TV stations and was posted with other anti-drugged driving PSAs on the OTS’s YouTube channel.

On Friday, the PSA stopped airing on television; OTS removed the video from YouTube. Both occurred one day after United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded guidelines recommending the Department of Justice not interfere with states’ cannabis laws.

Sacramento TV station Fox40 has the video here.

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Cannabis and Cars in 2018: No Smoking, No Eating, No Vaping, and Stuff Your Stash in Your Trunk

New California law outlaws consuming any form of cannabis in moving vehicles.


California’s car culture and cannabis culture have been portrayed as two great things that go great together.

Fuggedaboutit, man.

Starting Monday,  drivers and passengers will be forbidden from smoking, vaping, eating, drinking or otherwise ingesting cannabis and cannabis products in moving vehicles. Gov. Jerry Brown approved the new law in September.

It is already illegal to drive while intoxicated on cannabis — even though the state has set no legal standard for impairment and no technology to measure impairment is in standard use by law enforcement.  It’s also illegal to have an open bag of cannabis in a motor vehicle.

Penalties for smoking and consuming cannabis in vehicles begin at $70 but could be as much as $10,000 if injuries or deaths are involved and insurance rates skyrocket, similar to the cost of a drunk driving ticket.

It’s already illegal to smoke cannabis in public (punishable by a $100 fine) so the famous “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” hot-box scene can’t legally be recreated today.


Big questions remain: How can law enforcement tell the difference between a regular cookie and a cannabis cookie? People eat and drive all the time. And how does a cop spot an e-cig vs. a vape pen?

To review:

San Francisco Cannabis Firsts


Despite its history as California’s capital of drug culture and commerce, San Francisco was not the first city in the state to legally sell medicinal cannabis and will not be the first city in the state to legally sell recreational cannabis. (Berkeley nabbed the medicinal honor and Oakland will get the recreational glory.)

Historically, San Francisco’s other cannabis firsts include:

  • The Psychedelic Shop, the  first and most influential head shop in America, opening in January 1966, becoming the epicenter of hippie culture and commerce, including extra-legal drug sales and on-premises pot smoking.
  • Activist Dennis Peron, in 1974, opening The Island, a cannabis-friendly restaurant where pot was in the air and for sale upstairs.
  • The Board of Supervisors approving the first medical cannabis initiative in 1991, five years before California voters authorized medicinal cannabis.
  • Dennis Peron, in 1992, opening America’s first medicinal cannabis dispensary, San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, where people obtained and consumed cannabis.

Dennis Peron

Meantime, I’m on record predicting San Francisco will host the first legal cannabis lounge in America.

29 Places to Stay in Las Vegas Other Than Casino Hotels That Hate Pot


Nevada gaming officials unanimously agree that casino licensees should be discouraged from hosting cannabis-related trade shows or conferences in casino convention spaces and ballrooms. I recommend cannabis tourists traveling to Las Vegas for its legal recreational pot avoid casino hotels at all costs. Here are 29 hotels and resorts in Las Vegas that aren’t affiliated with casinos.  Continue reading

Sin City vs. the Marijuana Mirage

Las Vegas cannabis tourism is a roll of the dice
two months into recreational pot legalization


In the struggle for cultural commercialization and mainstream acceptance of cannabis, Sin City straddles miracle and mirage.

In less than three years since Nevada voters authorized medical cannabis, this oasis of indulgence has blossomed into a vertically integrated capital of cultivation, processing, manufacturing and retailing packaged for the masses amid glitz, glam and government regulations as keenly choreographed as Cirque du Soleil.

Thanks to voter approval in November and fast-tracked retail sales that began July 1, weed’s now legal for adult recreational use in Nevada, joining gambling and prostitution on the list of activities adults can enjoy in the Silver State but go to jail for elsewhere.

But is the Nevada pot experience attainable in toto? Is Las Vegas ready for its pot prime time?

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Hops + Pot and Terpenes + Beer

Great tastes that taste great together meet in collaborations between producers of artisan intoxicants.


The message behind Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ classic Seventies slapstick TV commercials —“You got peanut butter on my chocolate. You got chocolate in my peanut butter. Two great tastes that taste great together.” — is being rebooted for the cannabis era in two collaborations between two California producers of artisan intoxicants: AbsoluteXtracts and Lagunitas Brewing Company.

One collaboration puts Lagunitas’ hops into AbsoluteXtracts’ vape pen cannabis oil cartridges. The other puts AbsoluteXtracts cannabis terpenes into Lagunitas ale.

Hops and cannabis are botanical cousins, containing similar aromas and flavors.

There’s no THC in the hopped-up beer collaboration — just the complementary flavors and aromas of Blue Dream and Girl Scout cookies cannabis strains captured in the terpenes. And there’s no alcohol in the vape oil — just piney, lemony, citrusy flavors of seven different hops strains.

Both collaborations are called “SuperCritical” after the CO2 extraction process AbsoluteXtracts uses to isolate and preserve cannabis and hops terpenes.

Lagunitas sent me a growler of beer. I’m awaiting the vape cartridge. I’ll sit down soon with a pot-loving craft brewer and report our findings.

Cultivate Your Ultimate Reno-Tahoe Cannabis Weekend


RENO — The Biggest Little City in the World is dwarfed only by Las Vegas in Nevada’s newest bonanza — the greenrush of recreational cannabis and drug tourists’ dollars.

Thanks to Reno’s scale, getting a taste of Nevada’s newly legal recreational cannabis is a lot easier here than it is in sprawling Las Vegas, and Reno is a good place to begin exploring Nevada cannabis as growers, processors and edibles makers from Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Incline Village supply Las Vegas dispensaries. You can even buy a tourist-oriented welcome basket of Nevada cannabis products, marketed as the Vegas Weekend Box in both Las Vegas and Reno.

Whether you’re traveling to the Reno-Tahoe region to gamble, ski, see shows, engage prostitutes, make a pit stop en route to or from Burning Man, or solely to purchase pot legally, making cannabis part of your next visit here is easy — especially if you can swear off odiferous buds and commit to enjoying locally made edibles, tinctures and vape pens.

Arrive by automobile, bus or train and begin your Reno-Tahoe cannabis trip a short walk away from Reno’s “Biggest Little City” sign at Mynt, downtown Reno’s only cannabis store and creator/purveyor of Kynd, the locally produced, widely available line of flowers, edibles and concentrates.

Or reach Reno via Lake Tahoe, where recreational cannabis at Incline Village’s tony NuLeaf dispensary is the North Shore’s buzziest attraction since The Ponderosa Ranch “Bonanza” TV Western theme park invigorated the historic logging hamlet in the Sixties.

Along the way, behold breath-taking lake and mountain scenery, drink craft beer brewed from Lake Tahoe’s famous blue water and eat a cut above buffets.   

Bring your medical cannabis authorization from any legal medical cannabis state and avoid paying Nevada’s 10 percent excise tax.

California residents with medical cannabis recommendations will hit the pot-tourist jackpot a mile from the California-Nevada state line in South Lake Tahoe, where dispensary and grower Tahoe Wellness Cooperative operates a rare tourist necessity: a cannabis consumption lounge, in this case endorsed and sanctioned by city leaders expressly to keep people from smoking pot on South Lake Tahoe’s shore and streets.

South Lake Tahoe is also home to what the Reno-Tahoe region (and Las Vegas) needs to cultivate in higher volume — a bud, bed and breakfast run by an innkeeper who provides locally grown cannabis and the greenlight to smoke it legally, no matter where you come from.

Can’t bear the thought of foregoing joints, dabs and bong hits while you’re visiting Reno or the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe? Forget about staying at hotels. Instead, reserve a 420-friendly gypsy camping wagon, custom-made by a Burning Man artisan and easily towed or delivered to campgrounds or private properties in the Reno-Tahoe area.

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Uncork your inner pothead in Northern California wine country

Turn your next vineyard vacation into your Ultimate Sonoma Cannabis Weekend. 


Sonoma County has everything you need for a fun and educational cannabis weekend. You’ve toured wine tasting rooms and vineyards. Now tour pot farms, extraction facilities and dispensaries in a region that’s become a hub of legal cannabis business activity in Northern California. Enjoy breathtaking natural beauty and agriculture from valley to coast. Stay in private vacation homes that welcome cannabis smokers — and in some cases even provide a gift of free cannabis to all adult guests from any state or nation. Savor world-class food, wine and craft beer. Discover heightened experiences of taste, smell and wonder inspired by cannabis, the region’s other intoxicating crop. Thanks to some cannabis-friendly lodgings and California’s generous recreational cannabis gifting law, you don’t need to be a California resident or medical cannabis patient to get a taste of Weed Country in Wine Country today.

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Sin City vs. the Marijuana Mirage

Las Vegas Cannabis Tourism Is a Roll of the Dice
Just Two Months into Recreational Legalization

Cultivate Your Ultimate Las Vegas Pot Weekend
— But Don’t Bet on Toking on The Strip

As far as legal pot goes, Las Vegas straddles miracle and mirage.

In less than three years since Nevada voters authorized medical cannabis, Sin City has blossomed into a vertically integrated capital of cultivation, processing, manufacturing and retailing packaged for the masses amid glitz, glam and government regulations as keenly choreographed as Cirque du Soleil.

Thanks to voter approval in November and fast-tracked retail sales that began July 1, weed’s now legal for adult recreational use in Nevada, joining gambling and prostitution on the list of activities adults can enjoy in the Silver State but go to jail for elsewhere.

But is Nevada’s newest formerly illicit indulgence attainable in toto?

You can buy pot on The Strip — from a boutique whose name sounds like a showgirl’s: Essence. But odds are overwhelmingly stacked against any pipe dreams of toking up at gaming tables, where cigarettes are legal, or in rooms and suites or poolside at major casino-hotels.

Cannabis no longer carries the threat of 20 years in state prison for possession or life behind bars for sales. But openly enjoying pot still seems shady, fueled by casinos’ fealty to federal regulators who mandate opposition to cannabis, which, after all, is legal only at the state level in Nevada, one of eight American states that embrace the controversial botanical drug.

You can’t legally smoke a joint, burn a bowl, hit a bong, vape a pen, do a dab or consume an edible anywhere in Nevada except in private residences and private buildings with owners’ permission, never mind the state’s live-and-let-live libertarian leanings.

Of course, only you and your budtender know if the gummy candies you’re gobbling contain cannabis, and people do indeed pass off their vape pens for e-cigarettes in some hotels. But smoke a joint on The Strip or in hotels and casinos and face a $600 ticket, a pricey room-cleaning fee or outright ejection.

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Wake and Bake: Americans Love Marijuana in the Morning


According to a recent study on drug use worldwide, Americans are the leading wake-and-bakers, with 21.9 percent of U.S. cannabis consumers smoking pot during the first hour of their day after waking up.

Here’s a song I wrote honoring the wake-and-bake tradition:

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San Francisco Pot Task Force Urges Swift Actions on Licensing and Tourism


SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s Cannabis State Legalization Task Force was formed in January to prepare the city for cannabis legalization. Today, one day after California voted to legalize cannabis use by adults, the task force delivered preliminary recommendations urging the city to swiftly license cannabis businesses beginning in 2018.

“Prop. 64 creates a very specific state licensing scheme from seed to sale,” said Terrance Alan, chairman of the 22-member task force. “The response needs to be local and focus on how well local jurisdictions implement those license types.”

Alan said the task force is focused on land use, public safety and tourism. Business types include cannabis farms, processing and manufacturing facilities, testing labs, kitchens and cafes.

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