Cannabis tourism, is that a thing?
It very well may be. After all, just take a drive through Napa Valley, Alexander Valley, Walla Walla Valley are any other winery filled valley and see tourists flocking to the region for wine tasting, and buying. Then there are craft breweries everywhere, and websites promoting tourismâ€”events, apparel, and much moreâ€”where beer and travel meet.
The latest trend is an increase in small craft distilleries, which we learned about first hand upon discovering a client from our previous life had started up Jewell Distillery in the small town of Blue Lake, CA. But I digress…
Will “cannabis tastings” and events drive the next big tourist attraction? Rene intends to find out with the articles she is writing after our recent visit to Humboldt, where we arrived at Redneck Acres just in time for Cannifest, the county’s third annual “Manifest Cannabis Festival & Trade Gathering”.
Will the cannabis industry spark tourism?
Based on the increasing number of cannabis fairs, festivals, dispensaries, and states passing recreational use laws, the idea of tourists traveling to a region to sample local cannabis strains, edibles, concentrates and cannabinoid distillates is not so far fetched. Heck, pot smokers have been doing that for years, only under the radar. Based on what I saw of the attendance of Cannifest, however, and heard from the few folks I heard speak, I wonder if a true tourism industry really can rise up around Cannabis commerce.
At least, I don’t see this taking place in Humboldt Countyâ€”probably the best known name in marijuana. You would think these folks would have everything in order to proceed with immediate implementation once California passed Proposition 64 back in November, 2016. Months later, while legal consultants are charging (and making) big bucks working with farmers and producers to jump through the hoops now in place, it seems the latter would rather discuss terpenes and tinctures than the actual business of building a budding industry.
In my opinion, the biggest challenge remaining is the Feds. At the federal level, this industry is still illegal folks. That’s why cannabis related business owners have a hard time getting loans, let alone federal assistanceâ€”from the Small Business Administration for instanceâ€”or much respect for that matter. But I’ll leave the investigative journalism to Rene and just leave you with my personal report from Cannifest 2017.
What happens at Cannifest?
For the record, no we did not make it into “Area 215” where Cannifest attendees could inhale, ingest, absorb or otherwise sample and judge cannabis products; as long as they held a valid 215 card. We do not, though doctors were available onsite to issue one for $150.
There weren’t many vendors outside the 215 tent, but they all had something to do with the growth, cultivation, consumption, packaging or promotion of cannabis products. In ways you may not believe…from beautiful handcrafted magnetic gold lined pipes and coconut bamboo bongs, to Humboldt’s OM cannabis infused yoga, whatever that is.
I enjoyed the art, especially the live painting going on during the festival.
We saw this guy working on his whale painting before he added all the intricate details, and were happy to discover he had won the contest when we met him the next dayâ€”almost as happy as he was…
My favorite part of this two day festival though, without a doubt, was the Fishbone show. These guys go way back, and they still rock the house like it’s 1989.
Angelo Moore still fronts the band, as others have come and gone over the years. He can clearly play any size wind instrument and amazed me with his Theremin, which yes, I also had to Google. I dig a good skank but it’s been a while so it was hard keeping up with him as he hopped around like there’s a Party At Ground Zero. Good thing they only played an hour, though I would have definitely enjoyed a much longer set.
Who will Cannabis bring to town?
The people-watching was the best at Cannifest. But if a cannabis industry is going to bring folks to town, exactly what kind of tourists will they be?
Our neighbors at the fairgrounds RV park depicted quite a dichotomy in terms of social status or income level, and state of repair when it came to their rigs. Honestly it was hard to tell who was there for the event, and who was living there. One thing is certain from the aroma in the airâ€”in the park, at the festival and billowing from every third car driving byâ€”cannabis is more popular than ever in Humboldt county!