California Legislature Threatens Cannabis Tourism Market with Surprise Party Bus Ban

I’m one of those lucky people who truly love what they do. And I should! After all, I invented my dream job by combining two of my passions in life: cannabis and tourism. But leaving my career in aerospace marketing to start a cannabis tour company was not an impassioned decision. I launched Party On Tours because I am at the epicenter of the burgeoning cannabis industry and in one of the largest tourism markets in the world. In a few years, the California recreational cannabis market is projected to be 40% larger than Canada and 250% larger than Colorado. From LA to San Diego, we get more annual visitors than the entire country of France. Putting my two business degrees and personal seed money towards a cannabis tourism company was a no-brainer.

Until, without warning, the California state assembly voted to make my business illegal and effectively eliminate cannabis tourism in the state.

Since February of this year, the California Senate had pending legislation to put greater restrictions on cannabis party buses. California Senate Bill 625 was a fair bill that put in place much-needed updates to the law, to protect tour operators, drivers, customers, and children. Before SB-625, it was actually legal to have a child on a Party bus where people were smoking cannabis! Of course, my company had a strict 21+ policy, but SB-625 made our common sense policy the law.

We also have drivers that were closed off from the passenger area, to protect them from harmful second-hand smoke. We invested in installing additional ventilation for the passenger compartment almost immediately… The smoke coming into the driver compartment had been uncomfortable, and we realized this was a serious concern and a labor rights violation. After early modifications, the cannabis smoke and vapors were ventilated out of the top of the vehicle and the driver was effectively separated from second-hand smoke. With this in place, there is no longer a danger of a “contact high” impairing the driver, per the NIH and NIDA.

As a responsible cannabis party bus operator, we openly welcomed passing SB-625 – as did the California Cannabis Industry Assn. Without warning, on September 5th, SB-625 was “Ordered to inactive file on request of Assembly Member Bonta.” Instead, the assembly quickly banned cannabis on party buses. California, set to become one of the worlds’ largest cannabis tourism markets, voted to kill the industry instead.

Hope is not lost. The newly approved legislation sits on the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom, who has consistently championed the industry. Anyone in the industry or who supports the industry can sign the petition or share the following letter with Governor Newsom through his office web form or Instagram account. On behalf of myself and my many “competitors” in California’s cannabis tourism industry – who gratefully invested in the opportunity to bring you educational, safe and legal cannabis experiences for years to come – thank you for your support.

Dear Governor Gavin Newsom,

The California Assembly recently passed legislation to ban cannabis use on party buses – on false grounds that the driver cannot be effectively protected from the intoxicating effects second-hand cannabis smoke. Separated passenger and driver compartments with separate ventilation have effectively solved this problem. These steps have minimized second-hand smoke exposure to well below any amount that could lead to a “contact high” for the driver, per the findings of the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Please do not sign this legislation, which effectively kills cannabis tourism and the expected revenue – and also puts California’s small business owners out of business, after they made a legal investment in a responsible business venture in accordance with Prop 64. Force the Assembly to work with industry and operators to approve common-sense legislation based on fact, not fear-mongering.

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NIH/NIDA findings on the psychoactive effects of second-hand cannabis smoke: