Cannabis smoke billows out in waves when the party bus doors open. Right outside the door, in Denver’s downtown Civic Center Park, is a police officer on bicycle. My fellow passengers get nervous, shifting slightly to avoid the officer’s gaze, but this is 4/20 and we’re celebrating in an adult-use cannabis state – I take another deep rip from the joint and exhale pure freedom.
Everyone is participating in World Cannabis Week, a multi-tiered celebration put on by My 420 Tours that includes cannabis-friendly lodging and transportation to an array of events around the city. We’re blasting Wiz Khalifa on our way to the Cannabis Cup while also stopping off at an assortment of recreational dispensaries and parties popping up around town. Next to me on the bus is Victor, a 22-year-old from Arizona who came to Denver with his friends to celebrate his birthday.
“Are you high, yet?” Victor asks his friend who smiles in confirmation after consuming multiple joints prior to the arrival at the cup.
While Colorado passed adult use cannabis in November of 2012, public consumption remains illegal. And although many at the park and Cannabis Cup blazed publicly on 4/20, they risked a citation. Innovative Coloradoans, however, have also found a way around the restrictions on smoking cannabis in public places by bringing the cannabis into private realms such as party buses and members-only social clubs. During World Cannabis Week, the hosts behind My 420 Tours took the experience further by offering cannabis-friendly lodging.
“Obviously people need to come here and they need places to stay, so we connect them with hotels that are cannabis-friendly, connect them with events that are cannabis-friendly and do it through a transportation service,” My 420 Tours owner JJ Walker said. “It’s been a process for the last couple of years figuring out how this whole model would work – to figure out how people could consume at a non-smoking hotel and provide that quality of experience.”
One of the greatest victories of receiving a Silver Surfer vaporizer while checking in at the front desk of the tour’s partner hotel, is the fact that all of this is happening at a commonly-known branded chain. Walker explains how this is possible:
“There’s so many different layers of ownership. Some of these corporate chains are corporate-run, some are franchise-run and even within the franchise-running of them they also have management companies and so you don’t know exactly per hotel how the structure of decisions are made. We’ve been fortunate enough to find particular hotels within large chains that had that ability at that level to make those decisions, that we could actually partake in this.”
In addition, while the hotel itself is not ready to go public about allowing vaporizing in its rooms and smoking on a rooftop patio, they have quietly allowed it to continue.
“We did so well at this hotel last year that the corporate entity has purchased the hotel and now the corporate entity is still allowing us to offer the services and that is a big deal,” Walker says. ”This corporate company, they own thousands of hotels across the world. There is such a revenue opportunity here, why deny it?”
During World Cannabis Week, guests were lucky enough to take classes from Ganja Guru Ed Rosenthal, tour grow sites and travel in style to social smoking events throughout town. This included transportation to locations such as Grassroots, where lucky visitors over 21 could join the social smoke club called The Breakroom and get a chance to dab with cannabis icons such NORML founder Keith Stroup.
“Over the last few years lots of great events have started to come up that are outside of the Cannabis Cup. We do see that the Cannabis Cup, in my opinion, is only losing steam – they don’t offer enough experience and entertainment plus there’s a lot of rules and regulations that go behind the consumption aspect of it,” Walker says. “What we see is Colorado is still going to be mecca for 4/20 for years to come, but people want to come to Colorado and they just don’t want to have to go to the Cannabis Cup, there’s lots of other 4/20 friendly things to do in Colorado.”
Zac Tucker, a 23-year-old from Nashville, seemed to be having the time of his life when meeting Stroup in The Breakroom.
“I’m only on my second day and I feel like I’ve got my money’s worth,” he said of the tour. “If you’re hesitant about whether or not to legalize pot, come here. Go on the tour.”
How did you celebrate World Cannabis Week? Tell us in the comments.