Cannabis tourism is on the rise in California, and L.A. is leading the way. According to KushTourism.com, searches for cannabis tourism–related information were up nearly 300 percent in the last year. That data point, for what it’s worth, seems to be in line with the busyness of the market.
“When I started my tour company a year ago, I think there were three pot tour companies,” says Robert Fiore of DopeTour. “Now there’s 10 to 15. … The landscape is changing so fast.”
The cannabis tourism scene in L.A. is a pretty compelling microcosm of the cannabis industry — frustrations with regulatory challenges, a diversity of entrepreneurs addressing a diversity of market demands, and hustlers.
The proliferation of tour operators and the resulting competition for customers makes it a buyer’s market, which should be welcomed as good news for anyone interested in taking a cannabis tour. Prices for tours are competitive, itineraries offer something for everyone, and tour operators are eager to please.
Tours are also a great way to get a sense of the many dispensaries and the dizzying number of brands and products now available to anyone 21 and older. Whether you’re visiting L.A. or live here and want some guidance scouting out good shops, most tours include at least one dispensary, if not more. And tour operators are incentivized to build relationships with dispensaries they can trust to accommodate their groups, schedules and questions.
“The majority of people coming don’t know good products from bad ones, medical from non-medical,” Fiore adds. “We try to steer people to products that are right for them. We’re constantly educating our tour guides on the latest products, brands, reviews and feedback.”
Why take a cannabis-themed tour at all? Why not just walk into any adult-use dispensary, buy your gummy or joint or vape cartridge, and take your own canna-tour of L.A.? The short answer is, plenty of people — tourists and locals alike — do exactly that. But cannabis tours offer a few benefits that make them worth considering, whether you’re visiting L.A. from Tokyo or Tallahassee or Torrance:
1. You get an education along with the sights and sensations. Every tour operator in the cannabis scene right now recognizes the opportunity, and the imperative, to educate their guests: about the plant, its effects, its culture and the bevy of products available. Having a knowledgeable guide to show you around makes plenty of sense for cannabis tours, just like it makes plenty of sense when you’re visiting cultural and natural destinations around the world.
2. You’ll make new friends. Not to sound like an encouraging parent on the first day of school, but taking in a new experience with others with similar interests can be a very rewarding way to sight-see. Add in the fact that many canna-tourists are new to the scene or new to L.A. or both, and you can see why a tour bus of strangers + a knowledgeable guide + weed = fast (and hungry) friends.
3. Social consumption work-around! Basically, every state and local jurisdiction that has legalized weed has done so by (initially) taking social/public consumption off the table. Now states that legalized early (Oregon, Colorado) are working hard to pass social consumption laws allowing people to consume cannabis at bars, cafes, lounges, etc. But for now, if you’re visiting L.A. and staying at a hotel or even a private rental, you may find it difficult to find a place to enjoy your legally purchased bud. A cannabis tour provides one solution. Consuming while on board the tour bus is allowed, so long as the driver is physically separated from the main cabin. Tours vary in what’s permitted to be consumed on board, but it’s better than being kicked out of your hotel room or forced to pay excessive cleaning fees for that Airbnb.
As is true for the broader marijuana marketplace, the No. 1 rule for the prospective canna-tourist is Caveat emptor: Buyer beware. Do your research, check out the reviews, call around. If you do, you’ll find a lot of great ways to check out L.A.’s booming cannabis scene with the right tour for you.
But how do you know which tour company and which tour are right for you? That’s a great rhetorical question! Here’s the non-rhetorical answer: It’s not that hard. It turns out most cannabis tourists fall into three categories: the canna-curious, the health hunter and the chronnoseur.
Tours for the Canna-Curious
The canna-curious make up a notable segment of the clientele, according to tour operators.
“We get a good mix of everybody, from locals wanting an alternative girls night out, to out-of-towners,” says Lauren Jones, who co-founded Weedology to share her passion for L.A.’s cannabis scene and provide some education in the process. “Our fIrst booking was a private tour for a couple for Valentine’s Day weekend, a wine and weed tour. They were from South Carolina, totally new to cannabis. The wife lit the joint from the wrong end!”
Dope Tour’s Fiore agrees, “What surprised me was how many people came from places with the strictest [prohibition] laws, especially Texas, the South and Florida.”
If you’re canna-curious, you’re most likely not a regular consumer of cannabis — maybe never, maybe back in college. Maybe you’re visiting L.A. from a “pre-legalization jurisdiction.” Maybe you find yourself in L.A. for a conference and you want to be able to tell your friends and family back home what it was like to step into the future. If you’ve got a blazing desire to learn — about the plant, the industry, the growth cycle or some other aspect of legal mary jane — good news, curious ones! There are several great tour options for you.
From the team at Weedology, the Weedology 101 tour offers a two-hour experience ($89) that promises to educate you about the science and culture of cannabis with stops at two popular dispensaries.
“Education is important to the mission — that’s why we chose to play on it for our name,” says Weedology’s Jones.
For those visiting L.A. (or showing your visitors around) and wanting to do the Hollywood tour thing but with a fresh twist, this tour’s for you: DopeTour’s Hollywood tour ($100) is a mashup of a classic-Hollywood-sites kind of tour and a weed tour featuring dispensaries and munchies. Imagine the grinning selfies you’ll have. Probably an afternoon well spent. And for people who love discovering tasty local craft beer and might want to explore some local craft bud to go with it, L.A. Hemp Tours offers a Budz n’ Sudz Cannabis and Beer Tour. The four-hour tour hits up a couple of dispensaries and a couple of micro-brewing facilities. Similar wine-and-weed tours are offered by other operators as well.
Tours for the Health Hunter
Whether you’ve heard about cannabis’ many alleged health benefits from a relative, or you’re already using cannabis therapeutically, if health is your primary connection to cannabis, you’re not alone. L.A.’s reputation as a mecca for the health-and-mindfulness set — its long history with medical marijuana, yoga and health food — already attracts visitors from across the country and around the world. Cannapreneurs realized there was a market for cannabis tours and experiences that felt more like a yoga sesh and less like a Fortnite sesh, and they responded with options.
One option worth investigating is the Sativa Sunrise Tour ($125 for six hours), organized by the women of High Tide Tours. Though their clientele tend to skew younger (25-35), they pride themselves on being inclusive. Hikes, meditations, yoga and, of course, dispensary visits, are all on the agenda with this active outing.
“I looked at the space and saw it [wellness focus] was being neglected,” says High Tide Tours' DeJanae Evins, who was born and raised in Los Angeles. “Spending trends show that people are going for a manageable high. Our tours cater to that.”
If you’re looking less to work out than to have it all worked out for you, check out another Weedology option, the infused massage tour. The four-hour experience ($149) includes a private space to get high by your method of choice, and then an infused-oil massage.
Tours for the Chronnoseur
Do you regale your friends with impromptu TED Talks on terpenes? Sermons on strains? Do you geek out to 11 when you smoke, expounding on every note in the bouquet, or the mouth feel of the smoke? You, dear friend, are a cannabis enthusiast, a connoisseur of the chronic. Welcome to L.A.!
If you came to L.A. for the weed, you chose well. And if you came to L.A. for another reason but are glad the weed is good and plentiful, we are, too. As one might imagine, there are good and plenty of options for the rolling stoner.
Green Tours’ Celebrity 420 experience with Tommy Chong ($149 for 4.5 hours) is a natural starting point. Yes, the voice of the yak in Zootopia is also one of the icons of marijuana worldwide, and doubly so in Los Angeles. Getting lit with Tommy Chong feels like a cannabis bucket list default setting, and the rest of the tour — dispensaries, food, information — rounds out a memorable experience.
Also worth checking out is WeedBus L.A.’s Munchie Crawl ($149 for four hours), which is pretty much what it sounds like. Smoke, eat, smoke, eat, repeat. There is no shame in going for it, if inducing and satisfying munchies is your kind of stoner trip.
And in a similar vein, check out Weedology’s Mary Jane & Music ($119 for three hours), which they say is open to all levels, but the mention of a dab lounge hints that this might be a better fit for the seasoned toker; or their Grow Tour, which Jones promises is “like no other. … Other tours may just peek through the door; we walk through the grow.”
But that’s not all! The cannabis tour scene is also like the broader cannabis market in another way: It’s constantly innovating. From experiences in infused cooking, to tours that’ll teach you the basics of the cannabis industry for interested entrepreneurs, the bottom line is this: Whatever kind of cannabis experience you want to have in L.A., there’s an operator for that.
L.A. is a great place to visit for those who love weed, those who’ve never had weed, and those who can’t remember which. Cannabis tour options abound, with options and flavors aplenty.
Regardless of which kind of tour you choose, take advantage of the knowledge and professionalism of the tour guides and tour company operators. Yes, they’re navigating a frustrating landscape of changing regulations and capricious rule enforcement (Yelp seems to have earned the ire of many a tour operator). They are also eager to make you happy and determined to educate. Their hope is that you learn something, take home stories to tell of la mota de Los Angeles, and whether you’re returning to Tallahassee or Tokyo, you’re better versed in the promise of cannabis and equally important, the promise of ending prohibition.
Los Angeles Cannabis Tourism Index
Price range: $89-$110 (three- to five-hour tours)
Description: Catering mostly to the experience-driven Cannabis-Curious and Health Hunter consumer
Contact information: (323) 418-2857 or weedologytours.com
Tours offered: Wine & Weed, Weedology 101, Mary Jane and Music, Grow Tour, Infused Massage, Cannabis Yoga classes
L.A. Hemp Tours
Price range: $79-$129 (two- to four-hour tours)
Description: Offering something for everyone, L.A. Hemp Tours touts a 420-friendly party bus
Contact information: (424) 404-0733 or lahemptours.com
Tours offered: Buds n’ Suds (beer and cannabis), Friday Night Out, Grow and Dispensary Tour, Winery and Cannabis Tour, Nature-Focused Dispensary and Malibu Tour
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Prices: $65-$149 (four- to five-hour tours)
Description: Caters to beginners but more to the Chronnoseur
Contact information: (855) TOUR-420 or greentours.com
Tours offered: Perhaps every stoner’s dream, stop and hit the bong with Tommy Chong on the the “Live, Love & Smoke Tour”; 420 Experience (including glassblowing demo), Hollywood Cannabis Tour
Weed Bus L.A.
Prices: $69-$149 (two to four hours)
Description: Shorter options, visits a grow, a dispensary and a Weed Wall of Fame
Contact information: Potguide.com
Tours offered: Grow Tour, Munchie Crawl, 420 Airport Pickup, 420 Airport Dropoff
High Tide Tours
Prices: $125 (six hours)
Description: Tours for your inner flower child.
Contact information: Hightidetoursla.com
Tours offered: Sativa Sunrise Tour with hiking, grow and dispensary visit; Indica Dreams with a sound bath on the beach at sunset
Prices: $99 and up
Description: All you would expect from a credible L.A. tour company with cannabis layered on top. Canna-curious all the way.
Contact information: (424) 253-6836, dopetour.com.
Tours offered: Beach Bum, Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Hike and Toke