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The Future of Cannabis Tourism in Los Angeles

As the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2017, fireworks will celebrate the new year and will signal the dawn of a new era: cannabis legalization in California. With this newfound freedom, the people of Los Angeles will be scrambling to get their medicine, and tourists will be coming in droves to sample (arguably) the country’s best herbs. But consumption laws have left people few options as to where they can enjoy cannabis, leading to uncertainty regarding the tourism that will accompany legalization. Tourists can buy it, but can’t smoke it anywhere?

Many regulations just passed regarding the licensing and regulating of dispensaries in Los Angeles. Temporary licenses will be issued to those who applied and met the requirements (Pre-ICO compliance: 700 feet from a school, open only between 6am and 10pm, etc.) for their locations. Just an FYI, The Higher Path is one of those shops! There will be a rush of shops closing, as LAPD is using Proposition M to shut off water and power to illegal operations, thus making it pretty hard to keep operating. Tourists will have a harder time identifying these illegal shops and may be at risk for a raid, so stay vigilant; ask shops if they’re operating legally before entering.

Visitors to the area will be able to purchase recreational marijuana with an ID, and can even accept it for free from friends, just so long as they are 21 years old. Consumption is an entirely different story: by law, you may consume in your private residence or backyard, but — here’s the kicker — your landlord can choose to evict you for illegal activity at their discretion. So, unless you have no landlord, a cool landlord or vape/eat so discreetly no one will know, you’re still at risk for prosecution. The city is working on it, but the regulations are so tight for shops and delivery services that the focus hasn’t been on consumption lounges. Yet. Be sure to vote in your local elections so we can ensure safe public consumption!

If you’re visiting Los Angeles you’ll find a dispensary easily enough where you can stock up on buds, joints, dabs, edibles  and topicals — but then you’ll be wondering where you can enjoy these new goodies. Welp, not outside! Nor in most hotels, not in any restaurants or other places where smoking is banned, and certainly not in the car or a Lyft. You’ll need to find friends in LA, or stick to vaping or eating your cannabis. Some hotels are offering a waiver for smoking inside, and there’s always the “420 friendly” Airbnb option. But don’t smoke and drive or you will be at risk. Don’t walk the Venice boardwalk smoking a joint with your friends on vacation. And definitely don’t try to consume at a dispensary! Play by the rules until the city makes new ones that accommodate this predicted-to-be $10 billion industry.

Farms and distribution centers will also be offering tours, but, again, consumption is the issue that keeps it from being a true tourist destination. Imagine going to a winery and being unable to taste the wine! We’re all essentially waiting on enough complaints that the city will vote to have public consumption sites that are closely monitored to reduce driving while intoxicated and offer a safe place to consume with like-minded individuals…and away from those who don’t want to be around it.

The future is a little unclear, with a mad scramble to get ready for the influx of both recreational and medical patients come 2018, but we are ready. Prices will spike for a while due to new taxes, but in the same vein as Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Nevada, they will level out. We’ll see higher quality buds and products, tested and regulated, edibles will be clear and controlled, and The Higher Path will be here to dispense medicine to locals and tourists alike.

(CORRECTION 12/14/17: The original article stated that The Higher Path & other legal dispensaries in Los Angeles would be ready for recreational consumers come January 2nd, 2018; however, because dispensaries must wait until their temporary license has been processed by the city to begin accepting recreational consumers, we will continue to serve only medical patients until the date that our temporary license has been approved by the city of Los Angeles. We will continue to keep you updated on our recreational status, but please feel free to email [email protected] with any questions you may have!)

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