The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Each year, tens of millions of people come to visit, spending billions of dollars before they leave.
While many of the iconic sites and landmarks have remained the same for decades, a brand-new type of tourist attraction is trying to update the list of must-dos, by targeting the curious.
Emerald Farm Tours is one of those new companies. It offers marijuana tours of the Bay Area, with stops at dispensaries, grow houses, and more. The company’s founder, Victor Pinho, has been working in the cannabis industry for 15 years. But he says, his new role started just a few months ago.
“Early in December, I took a friend on a tour of Humboldt County. He thought I did a great job and thought I should be doing this for a living,” Pinho said.
The Seed to Sale’ tour costs $295 dollars per person, with a maximum of ten people a tour. Pinho says the demand for cannabis-friendly tourist attractions is so high, his tours are selling out.
The tour made several stops. The first was Dark Heart Nursery, an Oakland-based company that specializes in growing marijuana through a cloning method. FOX40 was asked not to shoot video of Dark Heart. The second stop was Magnolia Wellness, a pot dispensary. Inside, the tour group checked out the extensive menu of marijuana products, and got a chance to ask experts some questions.
Pinho told FOX40 the primary goal of this tour is education.
“It’s people who have never been to a grow before, it’s people who have never been inside a retail shop for cannabis before, it’s people who have little experience but want to take a behind-the-scenes look at what this is all about in California, and why we believe it’s so special,” said Pinho.
But Pingo isn’t the only one trying to cash in on the budding cannabis industry. New businesses are popping up left and right, hoping to attract tourists with money to spend on marijuana. New businesses, like ‘Puff Pass Paint’ in Oakland.
Like popular ‘Paint and Sip’ classes, Puff Pass Paint offers a creative outlet mixed with marijuana. For $39, people 21-and-older can get high and paint for a few hours.
“We’ve not ever gotten to do this in public before. Smoking cannabis has always been something private, and behind doors,” said Tyler Joyner, Director of Puff Pass Paint.
Joyner told us, they started with just two classes a month. But now, demand is so high, they’re offering five classes every week, with as many as 50 people showing up to each class.
“So many people that come over and over again from the community, and just enjoy being creative together and meeting new people and using cannabis for a social aspect,” said Joyner.
As more and more people embrace the cannabis culture, business owners are hoping the Golden State becomes a green destination.
“That’s what the next step is, to realize the areas and avenues that cannabis is enhancing our lives,” said Joyner.
And as for Pinho, who’s own budding cannabis business is booming, he hopes one day to bring his bus as far as Sacramento.
The California Public Utilities Commission requires that all tour bus operators have sober, drug tested drivers, and are fully insured.