Vv Magazine’s West Coast Editor Alexandra Gill collects some of the “high”-lights of Vancouver’s undervalued weed tourism potential…
In one of the strangest mysteries of modern high times, British Columbia has somehow missed the weed tourism boat.
Despite our long history of growing some of the finest marijuana in the world (“BC Bud” is a premium brand name), implicit tolerance (we’re not allowed smoke cigarettes in parks, but pot is cool), and widespread social acceptance (it’s almost mandatory to declare your 420 status – friendly or not – in online dating profiles), we’re still way behind the new Johnny-come-latelies south of the border.
In Colorado and Washington, cannabis-friendly travel packages include grow-op tours, edible cooking classes, mountain high excursions, tailgate smoke ups, vaporizer rentals, bachelorette parties, art classes, yoga, live glass-blowing demonstrations, and free shuttle to and from the airport. And just wait until Oregon gets into the racket this summer. We can already imagine Portland’s pot-themed food trucks and weed-distilled craft liqueurs
Here in Vancouver? It appears that the only known tour operator, Vansterdam Tours, went out of business two years ago.
Sure, weed is not exactly legal for general consumption in the same way as it is in those states, but it is available pretty much everywhere. There are medical marijuana dispensaries on every downtown corner, many with prescription-compassionate doctors (wink, wink) on call.
Even Marc Emery, BC’s self-proclaimed Prince of Pot, who spent four years in the US prison system for selling mail-order seeds, is bewildered by the lack of American tourists who could be getting a lot more kush for their buck given the low value of the Canadian dollar.
“Hello, American would-be visitors, weed here is $3.50 to $8USD a gram,” he posted to Instagram earlier this year.
Do we lack an entrepreneurial spirit or is everyone simply too stoned to exploit our natural resources? Will we forever be relegated to the status of hewers of hemp and drawers of dirty bong water?
For out-of-town visitors who would nevertheless like to explore the high side of Vancouver, we have compiled this complimentary self-guided tour.
The 300-block of West Hastings Street is ground zero for ganja in Vancouver. Do use caution. There is so much to see, do, and vape in this one tightly-packed stoner block, you might never make it out. Start at Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters, home to the Cannabis Culture Magazine office, Pot TV studio, and BC Marijuana Party headquarters. After renting a table with a volcano vaporizer in the Vapour Lounge, wander over to the New Amsterdam Café or the Vancouver Seed Bank and Tokers Lounge.
Vancouver Art Gallery
The term “420” may have first been used by a group of high school friends in California who met every day after school at 4:20 p.m. to smoke pot. But the first 4/20 day of celebration and protest started right here in Vancouver in 1995. Held every April 20 on the lawn on the Vancouver Art Gallery since 2007, it remains one of the largest free 4/20 festivals in the world, with more than 10,000 celebrants each year. But you don’t have to wait until April 20 to participate. On any given day, you’ll find likeminded smokers lighting up on the Georgia Street steps.
Mega Ill Pizzeria + Vapour Lounge
Billing itself as the “Chucky Cheese for Adults”, this offbeat pizzeria caters to the 40,000 Canadians with a permit to consume medical pot (and any friends who care to tag along). Regular pizzas cost $16.00. For an extra $10.00, customers with a cannabis prescription can top it up with marijuana-infused olive oil. Non-card-carrying potheads are free to smoke or vape their own.
In downtown Vancouver, there honestly is a medical marijuana dispensary on almost every block. How they all acquired their business licences is a good question for the City of Vancouver. (But who are we to spoil the party?) There are a couple of dispensaries, however, that deserve special recognition. The BC Compassion Club Society is one of the oldest, longest-operating pot apothecaries in North America. Membership includes mail-order delivery and ganja yoga classes in the Wellness Centre. Fun! The BC Pain Society Dispensary is the only dispensary in the city with a cash-operated vending machine. The repurposed gumball machine spits out ginger snaps, shatter and a cross-section of popular pot strains in sealed, tamper-proof bags.
This hedonist, hippie, clothing-optional paradise has long been a summertime mecca for cannabis culture vultures. In recent years, the cops have been cracking down on the open-air soft drug market. But if you’re willing to strip down to your flip-flops (bathing suits and undergarments are viewed suspiciously by regulars), it won’t take long to find a wandering vendor selling homemade weed brownies and other cannabis delights.
What are your thoughts on weed tourism in Vancouver and Canada? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.