Meet Colorado’s latest cannabis entrepreneurs: bus drivers.
Earlier this year, the state began doling out licenses to businesses providing 4/20-friendly bus tours.
The first business to receive such a business, Cannabis Experience, hit the road in early March in Denver.
Local news station Denver7 reported at the time that the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, which issued the license, “believes it may be the first and only licensed mobile marijuana hospitality establishment in the nation.”
The company’s CEO, Sarah Woodson, explained to the station how the business would operate:
“There are several rules guests must follow. Woodson says IDs will be checked, and safe consumption information will be shared before the tour begins. Guests will be allowed to smoke on the bus, but marijuana won’t be sold during the ride. Non-alcoholic beverages and food will also be available for guests to enjoy. As far as tours go, Woodson says there will be a variety of options, including airport pickup and drop-off.”
Riders have to bring their own weed to Cannabis Experience, but if they’re dry, the drivers will bring them to local dispensaries.
According to the Denver Post, cannabis bus tour companies must comply with a bevy of local regulations.
“Denver requires marijuana buses have a GPS tracking system and ventilation that prevents second-hand smoke from reaching the driver. They are also required to submit pre-planned driving routes as well as timely updates if the routes change. That’s one reason The Cannabis Experience will start by picking up and dropping off airport travelers, as well as two of its tours, at Union Station,” the newspaper reported.
“Because we’re first, there’s going to be a learning curve on how everything is going to work as smoothly as possible,” Woodson told the Denver Post.
Other entrepreneurs have gotten in on the act, seeking licenses from local retailers.
Local station 9NEWS reported last month that three other businesses “have applied for the city’s new marijuana mobile hospitality license, which allows people to legally smoke weed while riding a bus.”
The station noted that Denver has made such licenses available only to “social equity” applicants who must meet one of the following requirements: “The applicant resided for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 in certain neighborhoods”; “The applicant or applicant’s family member was arrested for a marijuana offense, convicted of a marijuana offense, or was subject to a civil asset forfeiture related to a marijuana investigation”; “The applicant’s household income in the previous year was less than 50% of the state median income for that household size.”
While businesses like Cannabis Experience represent the first state-licensed companies of their kind, there have been other unregulated weed-friendly bus tours in Colorado before.
As the Denver Post noted, such businesses began to surface when recreational pot sales began a decade ago.
“In 2018, for example, undercover cops raided local marijuana tour buses and cited many customers and employees for participating in unlawful activities. At the time, ironically, city regulators were considering legalizing the business model,” the Post said. “The conundrum highlighted a gap in Colorado’s then-newly minted marijuana market: Locals and visitors had a plethora of places where they could legally buy products, but nowhere except a private residence they could legally consume.”
The newspaper continued: “That’s why, in 2019, state regulators developed the marijuana hospitality license, which allowed for a new type of business where patrons could smoke, eat or vape cannabis onsite. Hospitality establishments have been slow to get off the ground, however, as municipalities need to opt in to allow them. The first chance cities had to do so was Jan. 1, 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, few did so immediately. Denver didn’t open applications until November 2021.”