Category: Skunkworks

Cruising for Cannabis: Go Ashore and Legally Score — Juneau to San Diego (Updated Story Pitch)

World-class legal cannabis
and some decadent places to smoke it
await West Coast cruise-ship travelers
in 10 North American pot ports 

cruising-for-cannabis

THC beer
CBD minibars
CBD massage
local tours

BY ED MURRIETA

This year, North American cruise-ship travelers can disembark to legal cannabis on the West Coast of the United States and Canada.

Cruise ships docking along the West Coast today through the end of the year — in Juneau, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Long Beach and San Diego are just gangways away from legal ganja. In September, Vancouver, BC, will become the West Coast’s 10th significant legal pot port. 

Pull into a North American West Coast port on almost any major cruise line and immerse yourself in the best cannabis stores and activities. In premier markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles you’ll find the best cannabis lounges and the best cannabis-food activities. Book tours or DIY day, overnight and multi-day excursions depending on how long your ship berths in a pot port. In San Diego, California’s defacto craft beer capital, visit the brewery that crafted CannaCraft, the nation’s first non-alcoholic beer infused with THC. 

But just don’t carry or use cannabis on board cruise ships, whether in port or sailing the Pacific. Here’s the bottom line from one major cruise line servicing the West Coast:

No illegal drugs or other illegal substances are allowed onboard or may be utilized during a Royal Caribbean International cruise vacation, including during transfers to and from ships, inside terminals, while onboard, at our ports of call, during shore excursions or at our private destinations. Illegal drugs or substances will be confiscated and appropriate action taken, which may include removal from the ship …

Royal Caribbean says its interpretation of illegal is based on international law, not Alaska’s, not Washington’s, not California’s and not Canada’s. Expect similar rules from Princess, Norwegian, Holland America and other major cruise lines sailing the Pacific from Juneau to San Diego.

Of course, what paying adult passengers do in port is totally up to paying adult passengers. Go ashore. Local cannabis and cannabis culture are expecting you.

Here’s a cruise-ship travelers’ guide to buying, consuming and experiencing cannabis in 10 West Coast port cities.
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Scent of Craft Brewers: Beer Marketing Lessons to Cannabis Marketers

What do women craft brewers want? Flavor, variety, class and less skin.

Ed’s Note: Written in May 2007. Not published anywhere but my dormant food portfolio and now here.

BY ED MURRIETA

AUSTIN, Texas — Never mind Miller, Bud and Coors’ foam-soaked fantasies. Jenny Talley is a craft brewer who doesn’t squirm when sex sells suds.

“We have a sexy girl on the bottle,” said Talley, a 38-year-old blonde from Utah, who bears an outdoorsy dream-girl resemblence to the midriff-revealing Provo Girl on the label of her award-winning pilsner.

Though decidedly G-rated like the Provo Girl, (Talley brews 4 percent ABV in Utah, after all), Talley is pictured on Squatter’s Pub’s Web site with two gold medals she won at Great American Beer Festivals; the awards plunge down the T-shirt that clings to her taught torso.

“The Great American Beer Festival was founded on scantily dressed women trying to get you to vote for someone’s beer,” Talley said. “If a woman wants to use her body to sell beer, she has every right. If it works and it sells beer, I’m OK with it.”

Natalie Cilurzo, general manager of Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, isn’t OK with it. Aside from free-flowing beverages and the occasional kilt, the Craft Brewers Conference was a buttoned-up affair. (“We like it classier,” Cilurzo said.) One vendor’s scantily clad model stood out at the trade show.

“I was very uncomfortable for her because that’s not what we’re about,” Cilurzo said. “She’s not going to help that guy sell more tanks. I don’t want to do business with him because I don’t like his marketing. Can you believe this guy?”

The comley model stirred Cilurzo’s incredulity kettle. She recalled a radio advertisement for a Sonoma County beer festival that she and her brewmaster husband, Vinnie, sponsored in March.

“I told Vinnie: I’m offended by this commercial,” she said. “The whole commercial was just about people being totally disgusting and drunk. And then the guys says, ‘Hey, babe, you bring the beer, I’ll bring the condoms.’ Vinnie said, ‘We’re pulling out.’”

As interviews with a dozen women brewers and brewery executives at the Craft Brewers Conference here in April revealed, figuring out what women want — both in beers and their marketing — is obvious and impossible.

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Handicapping Sacramento Cannabis Lounges

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Top five contenders for opening capital city’s first cannabis lounge for social consumption.

BY ED MURRIETA

Sacramento’s City Council recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of the nations’s first event featuring open consumption of cannabis in public.

The next milestone facing Sacramento is whether the city should permit cannabis lounges — licensed and regulated places where adults age 21 and over can congregate to consume cannabis in social settings, like the lounge scene in San Francisco.

The city is expected to consider allowing cannabis lounges this fall. If allowed, applicants will be limited to currently operating businesses holding retail sales licenses from the state, and locations will be tied to stores’ physical addresses.

Until then, here are my top five contenders for opening Sacramento’s first cannabis lounge:

  • Northstar
  • Hugs
  • A Therapeutic Alternative
  • 515 Broadway
  • Abatin Wellness

My observations and comments, based on the nature of the current operation, management’s credibility, and future lounges’ locations and proximity to public transit, are contained within the embedded map below.

Here’s my vision and pitch deck for a cannabis lounge.

Read all of my previous cannabis lounge coverage.

Weed Weekend: San Francisco

Legal cannabis is best enjoyed in social lounges, with gourmet food and in the hands of five-star hotel spa masseuses.

BY ED MURRIETA

SAN FRANCISCO — Like Amsterdam, this lusty city-state boasts picaresque history, edgy authenticity, mind-blowing art and Instagrammable sights,  and among inclined travelers is a cannabis bucket-list destination. From Barbary Coast Bohemians to Beat generation poets and the Sixties’ Summer of Love to today’s legalized renaissance, cannabis has enshrouded San Francisco in intoxicating fog, a heady come-hither whether you wear flowers in your hair or Kate Spades on your feet. Once, tourists scored baggies of pot from hygiene-challenged ragamuffins on hippie-haven Haight Street; modern visitors marvel at the commercialization and wide-spread availability of California’s top agricultural product now that it’s taxed and regulated by the state and innovated by artisans and entrepreneurs. So dive into world-class cannabis retailing; decadent social-consumption lounges; gourmet meals and five-star hotel spa massages incorporating the plant; and local craft beer and cocktails spiked with cannabis extracts, toasting San Francisco’s gay and high history.

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California State Capitol Smoking Spots Mapped — Even Under Moon Tree

Thanks to cigarettes, medicinal cannabis users can smoke cannabis at the California Capitol, atop a subterranean building resembling an abandoned Star Trek set, against a tree-shrouded stone waterwall and beneath the Moon Tree.

BY ED MURRIETA

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Twenty years before recreational cannabis was legalized in California and public consumption was explicitly prohibited, the state’s medicinal cannabis users were already allowed to smoke cannabis wherever it’s legal to smoke cigarettes. In the state capital, thanks to the tobacco lobby, cigarette smoking is allowed on state property and near some state buildings in downtown Sacramento.

That means qualified medicinal cannabis users can smoke on steps of the state Capitol, on park benches surrounding the Capitol’s grounds, atop a subterranean building, in a cool, shady bamboo thicket set against a waterwall near the state’s really cool, harlequin-esque power tower, and beneath the Moon Tree, a Sequoia Redwood grown from seed that went to space aboard NASA’s Apollo 14 in 1971.

Here are some of the best and most convenient locations for medicinal cannabis users walking, biking or commuting downtown Sacramento’s famous tree-lined streets.

Take a break.

Medicate.

It’s legal.  Nonetheless, carry valid ID and your current medicinal cannabis authorization.

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Protected: 36 Hours in San Francisco (Cannabis Edition)

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Old-School Pot Practices Dying

Things cannabis consumers don’t do today but were done back in the day.

BY ED MURRIETA

Blame culture change, technology, availability of good cannabis and the rise of responsible use. Here are some old-school pot practices not in practice any more.

  • Dip Joints in Embalming Fluid or PCP
  • Chase the Dragon with a Straw Off a Pin or Off a Hot Knife
  • Smoke Stems and Seeds
  • Smoke Roaches and Pipe Scrapings
  • Pair Pot with Pills and Wine

Dosing Do-Si-Do: Indexing Intoxicants

Brands of ultra-premium joints and non-alcoholic beer spiked with THC seek to reach mainstream consumers by comparing potency of cannabis against society’s common understanding of alcohol.

Ed’s Note: Ed Murrrieta is an experienced, versatile journalist who needs full-time work.  Read him. Hire him. 

BY ED MURRIETA

On sale in Colorado and California, the nation’s two leading adult-use recreational cannabis markets, Toast’s ultra-premium, low-potency joints are dosed to mirror the equivalent potencies of bar-measured cocktails.  One joint, containing a proprietary blend of strains measuring 10 percent THC and 2:1 CBD:THC, is billed as being as intoxicating as one alcoholic drink.  

Meanwhile, the Colorado brewer who created micro-to-macro Blue Moon ale announced a line of non-alcoholic craft beer containing THC and dosed at easy-to-understand alcohol-to-cannabis intoxicant-equivalence measures — lower-potency light beer labeled with one marijuana leaf, medium-potency amber beer labeled with two marijuana leafs and higher-potency dark beer labeled with three marijuana leafs.

Both Toast and Ceria are positioning their products to be consumed responsibly and enjoyed comfortably in social settings — marketing to mainstream, upscale consumers who understand alcohol but are clueless, and possibly even concerned, about pot.

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Gringo: No Stoner Adventure. Just Potsploitation. Am I Right?

BY ED MURRIETA

“Gringo” — the movie purportedly about a pot pill, not the movie about spyware-killer John McAfee — opens Friday. If I retained enough community college film-appreciation learning, I’m figuring by the trailer and the commercial that’s been running on CNN for the past two weeks that the movie’s about:

  • Middle-class people audiences can’t believe are in the pot business.
  • Racist assumptions that although pot pills could be illegal to manufacture in America, it’s OK to  make them in Mexico because Mexico.
  • The black guy is always expendable in movies.
  • Can you believe Charlize Theron uses pot?

I’m hoping to catch a Saturday matinee.

Feel free to spoil.

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?

Ed Murrieta’s Cannabis Edibles Safety App Pitch Deck

BY ED MURRIETA

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. 

BY ED MURRIETA

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.

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BY ED MURRIETA

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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Go Ashore and Legally Score in 10 North American Pot Ports

World-class legal cannabis
and some decadent places to smoke it
await West Coast cruise-ship travelers 

cruising-for-cannabis

THC beer
CBD minibars
CBD massage
local tours

BY ED MURRIETA

This year, North American cruise-ship travelers can disembark to legal cannabis on the West Coast of the United States and Canada.

Cruise ships docking today through the end of the year in Juneau, AK, to San Diego, CA, including, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Long Beach,  are just gangways away from legal ganja. In September, Vancouver, BC, will become the West Coast’s 10th significant legal pot port. 

Pull into a North American West Coast port on almost any major cruise line and immerse yourself in the best cannabis stores and activities. In premier markets like San Francisco and Los Angeles you’ll find the best cannabis lounges and the best cannabis-food activities. Book tours or DIY day, overnight and multi-day excursions depending on how long your ship berths in a pot port. In San Diego, California’s defacto craft beer capital, visit the brewery that crafted CannaCraft, the nation’s first non-alcoholic beer infused with THC. 

But just don’t carry or use cannabis on board cruise ships, whether in port or sailing the Pacific. Here’s the bottom line from one major cruise line servicing the West Coast:

No illegal drugs or other illegal substances are allowed onboard or may be utilized during a Royal Caribbean International cruise vacation, including during transfers to and from ships, inside terminals, while onboard, at our ports of call, during shore excursions or at our private destinations. Illegal drugs or substances will be confiscated and appropriate action taken, which may include removal from the ship …

Royal Caribbean says its interpretation of illegal is based on international law, not Alaska’s, not Washington’s, not California’s and not Canada’s. Expect similar rules from Princess, Norwegian, Holland America and other major cruise lines sailing the Pacific from Juneau to San Diego.

Of course, what paying adult passengers do in port is totally up to paying adult passengers. Go ashore. Local cannabis and cannabis culture are expecting you.

Here’s a cruise-ship travelers’ guide to buying, consuming and experiencing cannabis in 10 West Coast port cities.
Continue reading

Tokechella Is California’s Smoking-Hot Desert Cannabis Tourist Destination

Massive Cultivation, Most Dispensaries Per Capita
and Cannabis-Friendly Resorts and Rentals
Make Palm Springs, Cathedral City and
Desert Hot Springs a Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot World

BY ED MURRIETA

It’s high season in the Coachella Valley — for tourism and for pot.

Now’s the time to combine them both.

If you want to visit California next week for a taste of historic cannabis legalization in the Golden State, the Coachella Valley — in particular the resort-town cluster of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs —  is one of the best places to plan a cannabis getaway for Opening Day of legal pot sales, better than other California cannabis travel destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, all lagging behind the Jan. 1 start date.

A longtime playground for movie stars, mobsters, sunseekers and alternative lifestyles 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley has the key elements intrepid cannabis travelers need to ring in California’s new legal era:

  • massive local cultivation;
  • most dispensaries per capita set to sell flowers, edibles and concentrates to adults age 21 and over;
  • cannabis-friendly lodgings, including two cannabis-friendly (and clothing-optional) hot springs resorts and a colorful mountain hotel with a vape-friendly cabin and smoke-friendly grounds;
  • and cannabis-fueled stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park.

Tokechella’s a pot, pot, pot, pot world for sure.

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San Francisco vs. Los Angeles: How California’s Top Rival Cities Stack Up on Cannabis

First it was sports, food and culture. Now it’s pot.

BY ED MURRIETA

Charticle? Listicle? Intro graf about the San Francisco-Los Angeles rivalry TK. Blurb blurb blurbity blurb. #Skunkworks.

How to Make Any Cookbook a Cannabis Cookbook

Open mainstream cookbook. Pick a recipe. Add cannabis. 


BY ED MURRIETA

It happens most holiday gift-giving seasons: You give your mother your wish list. Instead of the Schwinn you want, she gives you a Huffy.

What do you do if you want a cannabis cookbook and someone gives you a regular cookbook?

Turn lemons into lemonade and turn almost any sober cookbook into a canna-cookbook.

Here are five new and popular mainstream cookbooks: “Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook, ” “Smitten Kitchen Every Day, “Modernist Bread,” “Dinner in an Instant” and “BraveTart.”

Despite many of their stoner-friendly recipes — Pink Spaghetti and brownies, for Shiva’s sake — none of the hot-selling titles have anything to do with pot.

Until now.
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The Regs: Edibles’ Size and Potency Shrink

What’s happening with high-potency edibles?
Are they shoving micro-dosing down our throats? 

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Shrinkage of edibles’ potency and portion size top The Regs:.

What’s happening with high-potency edibles?

— Sammy Quintana, Capitola

Are they shoving micro-dosing down our throats? 

— Barb Tandy, Berkeley

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The Regs: How to Save Bongloads on Cannabis Taxes and Carry a Half Pound of Pot

Is there some kind of tax break
for medicinal cannabis consumers? 

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Once again, taxes top The Regs, this time in the context of a Medical Marijuana Identification Card that can save registered medicinal cannabis consumers bongloads of money in new taxes and allow you to carry eight times the amount of adult-use pot.

I’m a medicinal cannabis user. I heard about an official pot card that lets me avoid paying taxes. Is there some kind of tax break for medicinal cannabis consumers? 

— Randy Hollis, El Cerrito

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The Regs: Wild Wacky Tobaccy Taxes Explained in New Ask-and-Answer Column

What’s the deal with sky-high taxes
were going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

638253596BY ED MURRIETA

Taxes top The Regs’ inaugural you-ask-the-questions-we-dig-up-the-answers column about California’s new cannabis regulations.

“What’s the deal with sky-high taxes we’re going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

— Bobbi Zimmerman, San Francisco

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Banned in California But Legal in Your Kitchen

Here’s how to DIY cannabis gummies, 1,000-mg brownies and other newly illicit edibles at home.

BY ED MURRIETA

Just gotta have pot gummy bears?

How about canna-butter?

Infused ice cream?

Boozy tincture?

Soda pop and energy shots containing caffeine?

Craving 1,000-mg brownies?

Forget about ‘em. Come Jan. 1, they’ll all be illegal in California medicinal dispensaries and adult-use pot shops under historic laws governing how the botanical herb is cultivated, manufactured, sold and consumed  in the Golden State.

This story will be about six banned edibles you can make legally at home.

Buzzy Headlines Say Las Vegas Is the New Amsterdam

Is it?

las-vegas-vs-amsterdam-8 Continue reading

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

BY ED MURRIETA

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

West Coast Weed Map

Cannabis is legal, decriminalized and available the length of North America’s West Coast — from Barrow, Alaska, to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

I propose an annotated map highlighting the regulations, reasons and ways to road-tripping West Coast weed.


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

BY ED MURRIETA
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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Northern California Cannabis Travel Planner

BY ED MURRIETA

Like cannabis itself is to different people who prefer distinctive highs from smoking, vaping or eating, cannabis tourism is a different experience for different people seeking different things.

Cannabis tourism used to be as simple as being a tourist looking for pot.

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