In this episode of “The Legal Lunch Byte,”  Jonathan Bench and Kristin Westfall talk about the emerging cannabis industry in California, focusing on cannabis tourism and ecotourism. Kristin, an attorney specializing in cannabis law, discusses how cannabis tourism has evolved over the years, from traveling to places like Amsterdam to now visiting California, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco, for curated cannabis experiences similar to wine tours. These tours provide education about cannabis products and experiences, ensuring safe and informed consumption for visitors.

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Kristin also talks about the newer trend of cannabis ecotourism, where visitors can experience firsthand the process of growing cannabis on farms. This not only educates the public about cannabis cultivation but also helps dispel myths and stereotypes surrounding the industry. However, there are potential legal issues, such as protecting trade secrets and addressing concerns from local authorities about traffic and safety.

Despite these challenges, Kristin sees a bright future for the cannabis tourism industry, with more innovative projects and a growing interest from the public. Overall, cannabis tourism offers a unique opportunity to mainstream cannabis consumption while providing educational and enjoyable experiences for visitors.

The future of the cannabis tourism industry is set to be a dynamic and multifaceted sector, driven by a confluence of legislative changes, cultural acceptance, technological advancements, and innovative business models. As countries and states continue to relax their regulations surrounding cannabis, the industry is poised for significant growth, attracting tourists from all over the world who are eager to experience cannabis in a variety of settings. This description explores the potential future landscape of cannabis tourism, encompassing its economic impact, technological integration, tourism experiences, cultural implications, and regulatory considerations.

The global cannabis tourism market is expected to expand exponentially. As more regions legalize cannabis for recreational use, the industry will see increased tourism revenue. Economic projections indicate a multi-billion dollar market, contributing significantly to local and national economies. Destinations that embrace cannabis tourism will see increased spending in sectors such as hospitality, transportation, retail, and entertainment, creating a robust economic ecosystem around cannabis tourism.

Cannabis tourism will increasingly focus on unique and experiential offerings. These may include guided tours of cannabis farms and production facilities, cooking classes featuring cannabis-infused cuisine, wellness retreats incorporating cannabis for relaxation and therapy, and cultural tours exploring the history and significance of cannabis in various cultures.

The future of cannabis tourism is bright, with immense potential to transform the tourism landscape. It offers opportunities for economic growth, cultural exchange, and technological innovation, all while promoting a more nuanced understanding of cannabis. As the industry evolves, it will continue to shape new experiences and redefine travel for the modern era, making cannabis tourism a significant and vibrant sector in the global travel industry.

CHAPTERS: 0:00 Intro

1:53 New Areas in the Cannabis Industry

3:59 Cannabis Ecotourism

6:14 How’s Different from Kind of Normal Cannabis Tourism

10:29 Some Issues of the Cannabis Tourism

14:04 The Future of Cannabis Tourism Industry

5:16 Outro


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California Cannabis Emerging Markets | The Legal Lunch Byte | Episode 22 – YouTube

(00:04) welcome everyone to the latest episode of the legal lunch bite my name is Jonathan bench I’m joined today by my colleague Kristen Westfall who’s in California Kristen really happy to have you here I know you recently joined the firm and so we haven’t even had a chance to really have a proper conversation so I’m really looking forward to speaking with you and learning more about your expertise and specifically in this month’s theme of the Cannabis industry about cannabis tourism cannabis ecotourism today so maybe you can start
(00:30) out by giving us some of your background sure thanks nice to meet you as well um I’ve been an attorney for many years uh the past five or so I’ve been focusing on cannabis it’s a new and upcoming area in California for an attorney it’s exciting um there’s a lot of twists and changes as we go along I’ve learned a lot um but having litigated in many different areas from construction defect civil litigation class action um kind of all ties into cannabis because believe it or not it has a little bit of each of
(01:04) those um when you are practicing in the Cannabis Arena I found the same thing too I I grew up at a firm in Bangor Maine and cannabis had just come online a couple years after I started practice no one else was really interested in looking into it and so I I said we should get to the Forefront of this and so I had I’ve been in the industry for a long time and kind of on the periphery and back and forth but same thing it’s really interesting when a new industry emerges and it touches all of these different
(01:31) areas it makes a lot of a lot of work for lawyers which is great but it also is uh extremely complex because you do you know you have how do you do a a cannabis lease and what happens if you’re fighting about a lease or a partnership dispute or any number of things uh it’s it’s always I’m always surprised at the kind of projects I get pulled into in the Cannabis industry but certainly never a dull day yep exactly so let’s start out with uh what new areas you’re seeing in the Cannabis
(01:57) industry you’ve been you’re five years in what what’s new what surprised you um what what is kind of uh and what kind of normal projects are you working on so there is something new that’s just come online recently um and it’s really exciting and fun um obviously I’m still working on a lot of the civil litigation business disputes with cannabis but the new area revolves around cannabis tourism and it used to be um that people would go to like Amsterdam or Spain and the whole purpose was to just experience
(02:29) cannabis because it was legal there um then when Colorado started people would go to Colorado and they would go there just to be able to use and consume cannabis then they started coming to California and now Los Angeles and San Francisco are pretty much the epicenter for cannabis tourism that is traditional cannabis tourism where you’re going to go someplace um try out some of these name brands um take a look at the different dispensaries almost like a wine tour you can go with someone who knows the industry knows the different
(02:59) types of of dispensaries what their reputation is what products they’re selling and they can kind of point you in the direction everything from a very currated Boutique type of experience to more of a general let me introduce you to cannabis and the different types um what I think is fantastic about these tours is they’re also very educational so even if people come and do the very traditional route um they’re getting educated on cannabis they’re just not walking into a store and trying whatever
(03:29) name or description sounds good they’ve got someone who’s very knowledgeable who’s interacting with them and H letting them have the best possible experience which is what all of us in the industry want for people that are getting involved in cannabis we want them to have a really good educated experience with cannabis so that’s kind of the traditional um mode of cannabis tourism but lately I’m seeing it move into kind of a different direction as well and um what do you see as the factors before I know we’re going to
(04:02) talk about cannabis ecotourism which I think is very interesting but what’s what do you say is driving this generally like what I know that California has been uh legal how did California wrestle the crowd from Amsterdam or what what are really some of the reasons that people are coming to California is it just the perfectly curated experience you know deep expertise in uh you know in the cultivation and and uh manufacturing is it is I feel like California is just good at everything so how did how did California get there well I think it’s
(04:30) couple of things one Amsterdam has recently passed some new legislation which is impacting some of its cannabis tourism um but that being said Colorado had the crown for a while but they didn’t really cater to this kind of Tourism um they actually faced some backlash with folks that were coming to Colorado just to experience cannabis whereas California has embraced it and we also kind of have a different system set up where we have state laws but we also have individual City and County laws so as a result of that you are able
(05:05) to do different things in different counties and different cities um for example in West Hollywood you can go and you can have an experience where you consume cannabis and you can also like kind of hang out in a lounge um they had a place where you could go and you could eat food that was either paired specifically for cannabis or it was kind of like a coffee shop you could go socialize with others that enjoyed cannabis while you had a coffee or tea or even consumed um you know food in that environment so it’s a very
(05:37) different vibe and a very different experience I think the opportunity to not just go to different dispensaries where it’s legal but to try these different experiences is what’s driving folks to come to California plus there’s so many other things to do so I I would say a lot of people I talk to they’re not just coming to do cannabis they’re coming to try a lot of other things in California so so those two dovetail really nicely and has created a drive for people to come to California very
(06:06) interesting so you said San Francisco and LA are the the two centers right now yes they are interesting okay great um and what about cannabis ecotourism how’s that different from kind of normal cannabis tourism well that’s new and that I think is really exciting we work with a lot of um folks that are cultivating cannabis and you know growing the Cannabis processing sometimes they do processing mostly growing of the Cannabis um typically we’re working with the outdoor Farmers although we work with some folks of hoop
(06:36) houses as well what they’re finding is people were very curious about the process of growing cannabis so they started off offering um tours kind of like where you would go to a Vineyard and you would tour kind of the winery in the vineyard and they talk about how you know the vines the grapes are grown now they’re talking about how different strains of cannabis are grown um what it looks like what the processes that has actually morphed into something even more where I have a client who has recently set up a bed and breakfast kind
(07:08) of an Airbnb on their property people can book it they come they can stay a week from a week to a month and they embed them in the farm so they come and they’ll get up in the morning and see what happens you know what are the morning um routines they will come and they can actually plant they can look at the cloning they can Shadow and follow follow people around they can ride in the tractor they can work the sprayer and people are really excited about that and people who grow cannabis are very excited to show and demystify the
(07:41) process at the end of the day it’s just another agricultural crop you know it’s it’s something that they’re giving back to the land they are very mindful in the process of how they are growing the canvas they want the best possible plants and their goal is to educate the public to let them understand that this isn’t some scary Backwoods people with guns standing around growing cannabis um it’s actually a legitimate kind of a large scale farming operation by people who care very deeply about their product
(08:19) and about um doing things in a very eco-friendly way sounds really smart from a business standpoint as well where the market continues to get saturated or at least you know new players come in there’s there’s more much more competition in a mature Market than there was in California 15 20 years ago uh that’s very interesting it seems like following another Trend which is the general agricultural tourism as well you know I’ve been seeing lately on Instagram a lot of people pushing not pushing but
(08:49) promoting their their own Farms you know the kind of getting back to the soil and um it’s it’s an interesting business model and I’m a business ler so I love seeing the different ways that people make money and how they engage their their clients and potential customers it’s uh very interesting well and just on that note something else that they’re doing because I wasn’t aware of this people that come and do the tours then of course they tell other people they also become loyal to the brand so even
(09:17) if the person growing it doesn’t white label or sell their own brand you’d be surprised they have started selling T-shirts sweatshirts trucker hats um C te water bottles and they said that was just because people were asking for them and they thought at first that would be a nice kind of souvenir they now have a whole separate business selling those types of um products that they never in their Wildest Dreams anticipated there would be a demand for so it really has opened up another Revenue stream from
(09:51) them that has has done very very well and it was a very big surprise to my particular clients but more and more people are kind of jumping on land bandwagon and doing that yeah that’s very interesting from the business standpoint I was thinking at first when you were explaining this that people might be training their own competition which is true but if we have state lines if someone’s touring from you know Virginia West Virginia Alabama somewhere uh you know they come for the experience they come for the training and uh and
(10:19) they learn but they wouldn’t be necessarily be direct competitors because of the state-by-state uh regulations and laws that are that are on books so really interesting wow um okay so what about some issues you’re you’re on the litigation side of the table usually so you certainly see your fair share of issues facing the Cannabis tourism well it’s interesting that you brought up a point of not wanting to train your competition so we’re seeing we didn’t used to see this in the past um cannabis
(10:46) when it started was very much let’s everybody share there are certain strains that everybody’s going to use there are certain techniques it was very much an open marketplace with everybody was sharing knowledge that’s how it started as it got more commercialized people were starting to want to patent or trademark or call things Trade Secrets and you know there’s a whole other that’s a whole other program about that but when you bring people in and you start to open it up and you share these
(11:15) experiences of course then you kind of blown the whole idea that certain things are a trade secret you’ve made them widely available you’re sharing that with the public so I have cautioned my clients to the extent they think they have any sort of formulas or processes or anything like that that they would consider a trade secret something that they do that’s special that they don’t want the public to know about take steps maybe an NDA with people that are visiting the farm maybe don’t show that
(11:46) part of it certainly don’t have it widely available so that is one thing I have talked about and cautioned I haven’t had any sort of litigation or cases that have come up in that regard for ecotourism but I can see that coming down you know the pathway or down the Horizon as these things become more and more prevalent so that’s one thing the other thing is just like you know when they started these Vineyard or Winery tours um local cities and and counties they have some concerns about traffic they have concerns about safety so they
(12:19) don’t want people that are go and sampling um not so much the ecotourism but people that are sampling in these dispensaries they don’t want them out driving they want to make sure you’re taking steps to ensure that you’re not putting people on the road that are new to cannabis and that shouldn’t be out there driving they worry about congestion they worry about traffic because some of these dispensaries you know not that they’re not they’re not next to each other but they’re in a
(12:44) certain radius so they do worry about the influx of traffic so that’s just something that you work with you know your local representatives to kind of address and make sure that doesn’t happen and very successfully people have been able to navigate that um as long as you’re mindful about it it’s really not too hard to overcome something like that um the final thing is just to convince um your local you know boards and Regulators that ecotourism is a good idea because you know a lot of times they don’t get
(13:17) involved until there’s problems with the Farms until you know sometimes there are I don’t want to say violent events but cannabis is a cash business so as a result of that certain things things happen that maybe wouldn’t happen during a winery tour so you just need to educate folks about the safety precautions you’re taking the screening and let them know exactly what you’re doing and in most cases they’ve been able to overcome any sort of complaints or issues they’ve had it’s very
(13:47) interesting yeah the safety has been an issue for a long time because of the cash nature of the industry but right changing the business model from agricultural site to a tourism site does introduce a lot of a lot of complexity uh that’s that’s great um so we’ve got a couple of minutes left probably just a minute left what does the future look like from where you are sitting for the Cannabis tourism industry well I would say the future is green it looks really good um there are some really new and exciting projects
(14:16) online um I think earlier we talked about not just the ecotourism and the Spencer people are doing things like wellness retreats where they’re infusing a cannabis experience with yoga with really getting in touch with Wellness people are doing a cannabis Supper Club where they are curating culinary experiences that cannabis will enhance um people are having cannabis weddings so all sorts of experiences that people want to amp up or make more meaningful they’re kind of bringing a cannabis component into it so
(14:52) I think we’re going to see more and more of these types of experiences and it’s going to normalize more and people are are going to enjoy it more and I think that it’s just going to be something that more and more people get involved with so I think it’s a really new exciting area for cannabis and it’s a good way to educate the public demystify it and make it a little more mainstream that’s great thank you so much for joining us today on the legal lunch bite giving us your insights and
(15:21) look forward to catching up with you again soon of course thanks for having me thank you