Travel

Cannabis-friendly travel destinations are cropping up in California

If you live in California and enjoy cannabis, your biggest pot-related getaway to date may have involved skulking to the garage for a private puff.

No more. Enter cannabis travel destinations, now sprouting up throughout California. With the 2016 passage of Proposition 64, allowing adult use of recreational marijuana, 420-friendly tourism is becoming a real thing.

There are pot-proud resorts, retreats for mind and body, ganja yoga camps, “soak-and-toke” spas, culinary offerings with pot pairings, pot-themed festivals that draw out-of-state visitors, cannabis-friendly lodging promoted in online listings like Bud and Breakfast and Kush Tourism.

And while the business end of the cannabis crusade is still new for our state, it’s no pipe dream. In fact, in terms of tourism, weed may be the next wine country.

“It’s absolutely already happening,” says Mary Jane Gibson, culture editor for High Times magazine. “We’re seeing a lot of places popping up for tours and complete experiences — cannabis happy hours, tours of grows and local dispensaries.

“For so many people, they know marijuana adds something to their quality of life, but they’re still running to the garage to use it,” she says. “So adding the cannabis element to travel destinations — being able to consume with others in an open setting — it’s a huge deal. A major shift in consciousness.”

Potential business owners are looking to the models in states like Colorado and Washington where full-fledged tourism industries were cultivated after marijuana became legal in 2014. Some hurdles still remain here in California, though. For one thing, retail sales won’t kick in until 2018, so experts say some entrepreneurs may hold off until then. Some local governments are still debating details like classifications for permits and licenses: Is a cannabis-tour business a cannabis business or a tour business? And the current anti-marijuana mood in the federal administration may also give folks pause.

“As far as starting tour businesses goes, it’s kind of in the background for a lot of people right now because it’s all so new,” says Matt Kurth, founder of Humboldt Cannabis Tours, the first – and so far, only – pot-tour business in Humboldt County. Even he is still awaiting county approval for certain permits, but plans to be fully under way by midsummer. “Just look at what’s been done in Colorado, where it’s a real industry. You’ll be seeing more and more of that here. It has potential to be really huge.”

In the meantime, here’s a handful of the current cannabis-inclusive getaways, pioneering the path for many more to come. Bong voyage!

Be advised, even in pot-friendly places, indoor smoking of any kind is prohibited under California law, so most offer outdoor smoking areas or vaporizers for partaking indoors. In addition, many resorts and events — such as tasting tours — still require guests to have a medical marijuana card.

Cannabliss, Ojai
www.cannablissretreats.com

Smoking pot is so old school. The new age of cannabis culture embraces the full experience, learning about it, tasting it, reveling in it, expanding your mind, healing your body. And at Cannabliss, an “experiential getaway” in the scenic Southern California town of Ojai, you can do it all.

During the inaugural five-day retreat, June 22-26, guests will combine cannabis with spiritual practices like drum circles, sounds baths, psychedelic black-light yoga, visionary workshops and tarot-card readings. There’s a strong focus on education with panels and workshops from industry leaders. And “budtenders” will be on hand to advise guests on the best marijuana for their needs. Cannabliss has partnered with GrassFed, a pop-up cannabis dining company that offers gourmet, farm-to-table, cannabis-infused dishes.

Founder Sari Gabbay promotes the concept that cannabis is not a party drug, but a mood-enhancing, mind-expanding wellness tool. She knows using pot is hardly a new thing, but this kind of “engagement with the plant” is an entirely new frontier, she says.

Prices for the five-day retreat start at about $1,000.

Living Waters Spa, Desert Hot Springs
www.livingwatersspa.com

Like to puff in the buff? Then Living Waters clothing-optional spa, just outside Joshua Tree National Park, might be for you. The award-winning European-style spa lets you “soak-and-toke” in pure mineral water pools. The luxurious liquid is pumped from their own mineral spring well.

With a dedicated outside smoking table, the spa is perfect for “medicating and elevating in a holistic environment,” says owner Jeff Bowman. Be advised, this is not a party scene. “We are a contemplative place of unconditional acceptance,” he says. It’s quiet and meditative. No kids or pets allowed.

True to its spa designation, rejuvenating massages are also offered. Overnight accommodations include nine poolside rooms and six two-bedroom condos. Guests are encouraged to “soak in our healing mineral waters au naturel and enjoy this total immersion in nature.”

And as a travel destination, the town of Desert Hot Springs has fine restaurants and Palm Springs is just 11 miles away. Lodging prices range from $169 to $260. Or you can stay for a week in one of the condos for $899.

Feeling Groovy at Eagle Creek Ranch, Trinity County
www.feelinggroovyateaglecreekranch.com

Straddling the Trinity River in the heart of the Trinity Alps of Northern California, the newly opened Feeling Groovy at Eagle Creek Ranch combines nature with resort amenities and a weed-welcoming atmosphere. Have a pastoral puff on 116 acres of private cannabis-friendly mountain property, take a horseback ride through dense forests and alpine meadows. “It’s like the Sierras without all the people,” says co-founder Sam Lanni.

Lounge in a hammock, fish for bass, trout, salmon, take a morning yoga class, have a therapeutic massage or roam with the animals – they dye the sheep with bright, non-toxic colors to reflect the “feeling groovy” spirit. There’s also a daily happy hour with cannabis-infused appetizers and edibles available. You may bring your own cannabis or sample some of theirs.

The ranch will welcome its first guests at the end of June. Prices range from $40 for a tent campsite to $425 for a king room at the ranch house, which includes meals, activities and a 420 happy hour each day.

Ganja Goddess Getaways, Pescadero and Palm Springs
www.ganjagoddessgetaway.com

Calling all goddesses — you know who you are — to get your ganja girl power on at one of four overnight retreats run by founders Deidra Bagdasarian (Miss Bliss) and Sailene Ossman (Mama Sailene) of Ganja Goddess Getaways. These female-only escapes — held in August and September in Pescadero and Palm Springs — are beyond vacation destinations. They’re designed to help women deepen their spirituality, enhance their creativity and experience healing, using cannabis as a creative and spiritual tool.

“You can let cannabis rip away your mask and reveal who you really are,” Bagdasarian says. “The idea is to connect to each other as sisters. Be vulnerable and tender with each other. That’s the kind of environment we try to create.”

With a summer-camp feel, the weekend retreats offer workshops on women’s health, goal-setting and cannabis as a therapeutic aid. You can also participate in yoga, belly dancing, “puff-puff” crafts and goddess workshops. The getaways launched last summer, and will eventually expand to other states.

You can camp out, or stay in a yurt at some venues. Tickets range from $120 for a day pass to $420 for the full weekend experience.

To read more from our special report on canna-tourism, click here.


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