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Looking down the line of a commercial cannabis grow operation in Seattle, Washington.

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.

Jeffrey Leonard, Master Grower at Dawg Star Cannabis, addresses our tour inside of a fully operating I-502 grow room.

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.

The tour covers the beginning of the growing process and the differences between strains during their early lifecycle.
Another part of the tour delves into the complexity of plant genetics, showing tourists the different important stages of plant growth.

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.)

Under the canopy of a licensed I-502 production room.

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.

Jeffrey Leonard explains the importance of the drying process. This is typically where the most expensive mistakes are made in the industry.
Cannabis budtender Jake Dimmock addresses the tour, explaining some of the exciting innovations made by entrepreneurs in the world of cannabis.

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.

A professional prepares his workstation before diving into a demonstrative glass blowing session.
Working on a piece of glassware.

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.”

Glassblower Chris Drags explains to the tour some of the process going on behind him while one of his peers continues to work on a pipe.

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.

A look at some of the finished products during the glass blowing section of the tour.

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.

A worker tends to some of the taller, more mature cannabis plants inside of a cannabis cultivation site.
The smell of cannabis can be truly overpowering in a grow room that’s brimming with this much bud.
Close-up look at some of the mature plants under the glow of indoor lighting.

“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.

Cannabis plants’ fanning leaves reaching out towards the light.
The Kush Tourism tour gives you a chance to get up close to cannabis plants of the highest quality.

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.

Observation window at the grow lab at Vela.
Fellow tour attendees peering through a window display inside Vela.

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.

Jeffrey Leonard addresses our tour group.

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.

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