Have any canna-curious friends visiting L.A.? Maybe they want to go on a weed tour. Most pot-smoking locals haven't even seen a cannabis cultivation facility, and that goes double for out-of-towners, especially those from prohibition states.
In an effort to show both Angelenos and visitors the cannabis side of the city, Lee Gambles, owner of Smartweed dispensary and grow in Hollywood, recently co-launched the Weed Bus. It's pretty much what it sounds like: a tour bus that gives visitors a taste of Hollywood, and of all the weed Los Angeles has to offer.
The two-hour tour starts at a 420-friendly local hotel, where up to 20 passengers can sesh before boarding a luxury bus for a scenic drive down Hollywood Boulevard and into the hazy Los Angeles weed scene.
“We'll point out a few things, and you can get out of the car to take a picture with the Bob Marley star,” Gambles describes. “The tour itself is focused on showing tourists the cultivation and manufacturing area of our facility, and along the way we point out the Hollywood Sign, the [Griffith] Observatory, the Chinese Theatre and Pink's Hot Dogs.”
Of course, the real draw is getting to see the plants and learning where the pot comes from. “I think the majority will be tourists, but there will also be a lot of local people who want to do a tour like this because not everyone has seen a cannabis grow room or manufacturing facility,” Gambles adds. “It's like a mini weed factory, like taking a tour of a brewery and seeing how the beer is made. And then we give a discount to people on the bus if they want to purchase products at the end of the tour.”
More than just seeing the sights, the passengers also get a little education on the cannabis program in California at large, and in L.A. more specifically. With details on the history of the laws, what the current laws are, and how many legal dispensaries currently operate in the city, passengers will have more context behind the legal weed they're smoking. They'll also learn about the plant's life cycle, what nutrients are used and other factors that go into cultivation.
Having been in the cannabis industry since 2000, Gambles says he's seen the stigma attached to the plant dissipate. He uses his parents' own attitude toward weed as an example of how minds are changing. “My dad caught me smoking in my backyard once and he couldn't even look at me because he thought what I was doing was a bad thing,” he recalls. “Now they ask me for edibles and joints sometimes for some of their friends who have problems eating and sleeping. They've done a complete 180.”
Gambles credits CBD for helping erase the stigma. The concept of weed that won't get you high has gotten people who might have otherwise been closed off to accept it, and even foray into more psychoactive products.
It's been a joint effort by both cannabis breeders and policymakers, helping the plant evolve as an agricultural product, wellness product and, of course, a legal product drawing visitors to California from all over the world. Slowly but surely, more and more people are getting onboard with weed.