Story by Patrick L. Myers
Many emerging trades are developing underneath the umbrella industry that is cannabis and regular, everyday facets of business can now be put to use in the new industry. These include legal consultation, security, and canna-journalism, and now there is even a destination-based trade emerging in the form of “canna-tourism.” Everywhere the green bud is being legalized, local people are quick to accommodate and, just as thathappened in Colorado and Washington, we can now see it happening in Oregon.
Cannabiz Journal sat down to speak with a representative of one of the original canna-tour businesses in Portland, Oregon, owner Ryan McFallo. McFallo states that the idea for a marijuana tour resulted from what Bridgetown Weed Tours saw as a necessity. McFallo lists 2014 as the year the business was founded—or at least they started working toward it.
Bridgetown has taken a unique approach to bringing the casual tourist to the marijuana experience in Portland, through a network of partnerships that they previously had in place. Bridgetown Weed Tour services currently offers three types of tours, and each suits a different time of the day. The first tour in the day, the Earlybird Brunch, is a morning outing that starts with a multi-course meal. The tourist istaught by a top cannabis chef how to make a THC/CBD extraction oil at home, which can be incorporated into any recipe. The tourist will also learn cannabis terminology, as well as dosage conversion processes. On the same tour, tourists will visit several of Portland’s retail marijuana shops and stop at a smoking lounge.
The second tour, called the Grasshopper Tour, is more of a marijuana-centric tour that focuses on all aspects of Portland’s legal marijuana industry. The tourists are taken to a grow facility to learn about the growing and processing of marijuana. The tourists are also taken to an extraction lab to learn about the process of concentrates. This tour will also take the tourist through retail shops and a smoking lounge and café.
The third tour that Bridgetown offers is called the Niteowl Tour. Bridgetown is the tourist’s ride for the night and will take them to special events that change each month, while also stopping at retail shops and a smoking lounge and café.
To contrast with how tour businesses are usually run, Cannabiz Journal also talked with Erich, of Denver Marijuana Tours in Colorado. Erich moved to Denver in March 2014, four months after marijuana became legal in Colorado.
“I moved here from New Orleans and worked in travel and tourism since I was 19. I started off selling tours to people on cruise ships in Alaska and wound up in New Orleans. When Colorado legalized I kind of waited to see what was going on,” said Erich.
The tourism aspect of marijuana is similar to that of any other industry. “Even though there are a lot of people that appear to sell tours, a lot of them don’t include transportation.,” said Erich. Erich notes that the most difficultaspect of the marijuana tourism industry has to do with regulations regarding transportation, “The other big thing that a tour business needs is good insurance,” said Erich. The transportation industry is very highly regulated in Colorado, so even the tour businesses are being watched in regard to having insurance..
Most tour businesses will try to model their tours after similar businesses in an existing industry because the cannabis industry is so new. They try to find a good mix of education and also entertainment for tourists while also exploring the behind-the-scenes features of the budding culture.
New discoveriesabout cannabis are occurring daily and people tend to be under-educated on cannabis and seek out tours as a form of education. Tourism can act as a real bridge between the industry and the public.
One of the major issues a marijuana tour business may experience is the need to work with ancillary businesses, many of which may be run by people who hold very conservative views and simply may not want to be in business with someone from the marijuana industry. Other businesses may have federal ties and therefore may not be allowed to interact with a marijuana business.
Knowledge of the industry is essential to a marijuana tour business owner, because the industry is mainly educational. That’s why sharing firsthand experience from Bridgetownand others who are involved in the industry is so valuable..