Nestled in the Cascadian, ‘coffee corner’ of the United States is Kush Tourism — a cannabis tour company based out of Seattle, Washington.
Kush Tourism was founded by Chase Nobles and Michael Gordon. They have built their company from the ground up with the base idea of offering a comprehensive seed-to-sale tour of the local cannabis industry — and we recently had the chance to spend a day with the team that makes up Kush Tourism and learn what they’re all about.
Currently, they only operate in Washington state, although there is interest in making partnerships with similar operations in other legal states. “The tricky part is understanding the different state laws,” said Matthew Bentley, tour manager for Kush Tourism. So, for now, their focus is promoting the Seattle market.
People who are interested in these cannabis tours range from young couples visiting from both legal and illegal states to elderly women and golfing gentlemen. And that is the point — to offer a quality experience to both cannabis enthusiasts and to those who are just curious. On the trip we attended, there was a couple from Atlanta, Georgia and another couple from Massachusetts.
Our seed to sale tour begins and ends at Diego Pellicer, a high-class retail shop in the SoDo district of Seattle, where participants are provided with a parking pass to park at the shop while they’re touring. (Fun fact learned from the tour: SoDo in Seattle means South of the Dome, not South of Downtown. Named after the once-standing King Dome, which is now home to the Century Link Field.)
The tour shows visitors how Washington fell in love with cannabis, and how the state began the process of transitioning into a legal industry. In the midst of the tour, you will also get a nice overview of Seattle history as well.
But there is, of course, a catch: you cannot legally smoke or consume any cannabis on the tour or anywhere beyond that. “The most difficult part is dealing with the smoking laws,” said Bentley. “It’s a Class C felony to consume cannabis on our tour because we have made a money exchange for the tour.” Basically, if you’re a visitor Washington state, you cannot legally consume cannabis unless you’re in someone’s private residence — that means no public consumption, and you can’t even smoke in your hotel room.
At the beginning of the tour, we had a lovely introduction from Diego’s legendary budtender Jake Dimmock. From this point, we all loaded in the Kush Tourism van, which was loaded with snacks and water, and headed to the next stop. We found ourselves in Chris Drags’ glass studio in Westlake, Seattle.
Drags is an Italian glassblower by trade. “And if you know Italian glassblowers, you know it’s not easy for them to tell you their secrets,” Bentley said. “He truly goes beyond just blowing pipes.”
At this part of the tour, we had frontline views of glass blowers blowing pipes while Drags explained parts of the process. One of the members of the tour even bought the one that was blown before us and had it sent home to them.
The next spot that we went was Dope Award-winning producer/processor Dawg Star Cannabis. They became connected because Dawg Star had reached out to Kush Tourism, and they were wanting to share their process and their love for cannabis with the public.
“Because of their head grower’s knowledge of environmental and pest control, they are able to welcome visitors,” said Bentley. An emphasis on preventative control allows for Kush Tourism to bring visitors into their facility without risking their ability to produce premium cannabis.
This allows the tour to see first-hand what a Tier 2 I-502 grow operation looks and smells like. We were able to get a full tour from their clones to their finished product, with detailed explanations of the whole process in between. We even got to learn the story behind their brand name and their packaging choices.
Next, we were taken to our final stop, Vela, a retail store that is unlike any other in the state of Washington. This is the Apple Store of cannabis shops in the Seattle area — and it’s more than just a pot shop. Technically, they’re three different businesses with three different licenses: a retailer, a producer/processor, and an extraction lab. And they all share a building with windows for walls. Visitors are able to walk down a hallway and see joints being rolled on one end, while an extraction lab is operating on the other side.
Their main mission between the three different businesses is to educate the public on various aspects of the cannabis industry while being able to show what they’re talking about. Additionally, with access to an extraction lab, they are able to explain terpene profiles and their effects more in-depth than most stores. They have a terpene smelling station right on their sales counters, to give shoppers firsthand experience of terpene profiles.
Once we were done making our purchases, we all loaded back up into the Kush Tourism van and headed back to our first location, Diego Pellicer, and concluded the tour. Although we all were sad to leave, it felt like a robust cannabis experience that would be attractive to anyone curious about Seattle’s booming cannabis industry.
Beyond their tours, the team behind Kush Tourism is also working on many other projects, too. Recently, they just concluded their first Kush Marketplace event.
“This was the first event [in the state] where [cannabis] product was able to be displayed,” said Bentley. The event was an industry event where those with retail and producer/processor licenses were the only people able to attend, Allowing producer/processors to present their product to retailers in a speed dating-type setup. The end result was a hit, and we look forward to what else the Kush Tourism/Kush Marketplace crew has to offer in the future.