POT TRAVEL PROTOTYPE
BY ED MURRIETA
Like cannabis itself is to different people who prefer distinctive highs from smoking, vaping, dabbing 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.
We went to Amsterdam because that’s where pot was tolerated, sold and openly consumed.
Outside of Amsterdam, an illicit whiff pervaded pot tourism.
If you wanted BC Bud while visiting Vancouver, you saw the bald guy with the backpack in the vestibule at the pub near the pot bar where smoking is allowed.
Need weed in San Francisco? Head to Haight Street and Hippie Hill.
I’m sure the wafer of hashish I bought from an Istanbul rug merchant in the ’90s contained more henna than an Anatolian redhead’s tresses. But its soothing smoke prepared me for a Turkish bath manhandling. And it was available to an American hashhead abroad, the deal done at a tourist cafe near Hagia Sofia.
From Colorado to California, cannabis tourism is among the many allures of legalization. But what is cannabis tourism?
Spliffs on the beach?
Cannabis fields you wander like corn mazes?
Clean-room tours of laboratories creating cutting-edge cannabis concentrates?
Hash truffles on your B&B pillow?
Like most pot on the market today, pot tourism is a hybrid. There’s plenty for hippies and heads, something for hedonists and a sprinkle of hope for Napa-style haute.
In Colorado and Washington, where cannabis has been legal only since 2014, cannabis tour companies take visitors inside grow rooms, edibles kitchens and retail stores. Visitors stay in bud and breakfast inns. Limousines and buses double as smoke-lounges-on-wheels for tourists with no place else to toke.
Here in California, where voters legalized recreational cannabis use by adults yesterday, pot-pampered farm stays and cannabis spa vacations — think weed-capital-meets-wine-country getaways — aren’t far-fetched or far off.
Hurdles remain until California’s legal cannabis travel market establishes itself and is ready to welcome a world of tourists seeking weed beginning in 2018. Humboldt’s first and only cannabis tour company — promising guided tours of cannabis farms and concentrates manufacturing facilities — is in limbo because the county wants to classify the business as a cannabis business, not a tourism business, requiring a type of business license that does not exist in the county.
While Denver voters approved public consumption lounges that should provide a huge boon for tourists and locals alike, Alaska officials debate whether cannabis cafes are legal, despite a state board’s recommendation. In Nevada, where a legalization initiative failed/passed yesterday, the attorney general is cracking down on tour operators that facilitate medical cannabis recommendations, affecting Californians who partake of our neighboring state’s generous reciprocity law while spending tourist dollars in Las Vegas and Reno.
For California, cannabis tourism opportunities are as golden as our state moniker but as hazy as our famous smog and weed.
Still, it’s the dawn of legalization. It’s time for a vacation. We’ve compiled seven DIY Northern California cannabis travel itineraries for seven different types of California medical cannabis travelers, all of whom should carry their doctors’ Prop. 215 recommendations like passports until 2018.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA POT TRAVEL
SAN FRANCISCO FOR AFICIONADOS
Chic dispensaries. Famed genetics. Consumption lounges. $5 dabs.
MENDOCINO FOR RETIRED HIPPIES
Cannabis farmers markets. Potluck pot dinners. California’s only bud and breakfast.
HUMBOLDT FOR OUTDOORSMEN
Boat. Paddle. Bike. Pack mule. Enjoy grass-fed milk and beef.
HUMBOLDT FOR FOODIES
Oysters. Beer. Cider. Hemp Vodka.
MARIN FOR GIRLS
Spa. Shopping. Drinking. Dining.
TAHOE FOR BROS
Buds, brothels and free haircuts.
SACRAMENTO FOR PARENTS
Power. Food. Art. Trees.
The Aficionados’ Treat
California’s most sophisticated city promises the Golden State’s most sophisticated cannabis travel experience. Sleek dispensaries. High-quality cannabis. Smoking and vaping lounges. Dab bars. Cannabis-paired dinners. Edibles cooking classes. Cannabis yoga. Plus all the general tourist activities — food, culture, art, shopping, big-city energy — that make San Francisco a world-class travel destination with or without weed. — Ed Murrieta
Sleek dispensaries. Harvest … Apothocary … Barbary Coast Collective great hash selection.
SMOKE & VAPE
Urban Pharm. SPARC. Igzactly 420. Harvest. Also: Hippy Hill.
JUST DAB IT
Dabbing cannabis concentrates — shatter, wax, budder — is growing in popularity. It’s fitting that San Francisco dispensaries are accommodating connoisseurs of concentrates. Urban Pharm offers $5 dabs of select concentrates at its budtender-manned dab station, double-rigged so you can dab with your bestie. Five blocks east on Mission Street, Barbary Coast Collective plans to open a dab bar this fall.
Do you prefer to smoke, vaporize or ediblize before double-dog downing? Ganja Yoga instructor Dee Dussalt is flexible. She has different classes at different private locations South of Market and near Civic Center, $25 per stretch sesh, vape pens, edibles and cannabis included for yogis and yoginis who possess a California medical cannabis recommendation.
POP-UP POP DINNER
The Cannaisseur Series is a pop-up dinner South of Market featuring four courses containing no cannabis but paired pot — intermezzos of cannabis flowers, extracts and edibles. Note: The amuse bouche are always amusingly medicated; help and pace yourself. A recent dinner celebrated Oktoberfest. The Nov. 20 fall-harvest dinner ($149) promises seasonal vegetables, sun-grown cannabis and a vapor bar. The Cannaisseur Series anticipated legalization but says on its invite, “Until further notice you are required to have a California medical cannabis recommendation to attend this event.”
Learn to make gourmet cannabis butter and cannabis oil from Jeff the 420 Chef. Bring your own cannabis (an eighth is recommended) and doctor’s recommendation to use medical cannabis; Jeff the 420 Chef will provide all the kitchen tools you’ll need and guide you through recipe from simple hors d’oeuvres to gourmet meals. Classes are $85 and $175 (the latter includes Jeff the 420 Chef’s butter-oil-making kit).
Of all the restaurants within walking distance of San Francisco dispensaries, Benu — the 3-Michelin star, $600-per-person do-si-do with minimalism midway between Igzactly420 and The Green Door — takes the 24-carrot cake.
There’s a reason all the best cannabis industry conferences book the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero: smoking balconies. For a stay with San Francisco cannabis royalty, pot legend Dennis Peron’s home, Castro Castle,
Tripping balls from your Volcano sesh at Igzactly420 and got the urge to hit balls into a video golf simulator? Trip into Eagle Club Indoor Golf, a driving range that’s 223 feet — about the length of the average PGA 5-wood shot — to the west of Igzactly420. It gets even tripper when you’re hitting balls into a simulation of San Francisco’s exclusive Olympic Club, one of dozens of elite courses around the world programmed for play. If paddles and plastic balls give you pleasure, pothead actress Susan Sarandon recently opened SPiN, a ping pong cafe where you can rent game tables and order food and booze. The joint wears its “street” vibe like Axe Body Spray so wear your Cookies garb here.
The second thing cultured cannabis travelers do in Amsterdam is visit museums. In San Francisco, SFMOMA, the de Young and the Asian Art Museum …. IMAX 3D at Metreon.
Oakland is the epicenter of Bay Area cannabis activists and entrepreneurs. But cannabis tourism? Not a lot of there there. Perhaps the Oakland Museum of California will extend or make permanent its recently closed cannabis exhibit. Magnolia plans to open a smoking lounge in its dispensary. Perhaps Harborside will too.
CALIFORNIA CANNABIS TRAVEL TIPS
SMOKING: SB 420, one of California’s landmark medical cannabis laws, allows medical cannabis to be smoked wherever cigarette smoking is allowed.
DISPENSARIES: Call ahead and join before you leave home. This will speed the intake process when you arrive and makes it less likely you’ll forget any important paperwork.
LODGING: Avoid cleaning fees of $200-$500 by not smoking pot in hotel or motel rooms that don’t allow pot smoking. Bring a vaporizer instead. Or stick with edibles.