Stigma, Not Safety, Driving California Cannabis Regulation

My 420-friendly transportation and tourism company was regulated out of business by the California legislature this past October. Unfortunately, the science behind intoxication from second-hand cannabis smoke was never considered. Nor was actual safety: they took away Californians’ ability to hire a designated driver when consuming cannabis!

Originally, the California Senate was deliberating on Bill 625, which would have implemented common-sense cannabis regulations for party buses: no children (duh!), a mandatory divider between the driver and passengers, and separate ventilation for each compartment. According to a study published by the NIH, this would have limited the driver’s exposure to second-hand smoke so that the risk of impairment was eliminated.

Instead, the California Assembly passed a cannabis regulation wrapped in a transportation omnibus bill – ensuring that no legislators would vote against funding Caltrans. The bill that passed restricted all cannabis use on party buses and other commercial vehicles. The impact of fear-based cannabis regulations on weed tour operators who started small businesses was never considered (as far as we operators know). They decimated cannabis tourism in the largest recreational market in the world – affecting the entire value chain, not just tour companies.

Anti-marijuana propaganda still has such a stranglehold on our society that fear-mongering drove this change in cannabis regulations, even in “progressive” California. The impact of cannabis stigmas across the US is even worse. As a small business owner, it was hard to set up systems where I could take payment for my company’s services. Most reservation systems didn’t permit a cannabis tour company to use their product – even integrated onto my company website, without their name. The online travel agencies and discount booking sites refused to list cannabis tours. Obtaining insurance to protect my business was very difficult. And I was just selling tours, not providing cannabis products!

I’m so grateful to live in a state with legal recreational cannabis that I started a tour company to share the joy with others. We truly have come so far from the days I was buying a baggy in an alley, just hoping that when I got home there was actually weed in it. But we still have a long way to go before local, state and federal legislators get out of our way and let us run our companies like any other professional business. For me, that won’t be a tour company, but you never know what’s next!