By Georgi Gordon, CTAI Membership Chair and Board Member
When I first saw the Palm Springs airport sign advertising The CannaBUS Express Tours — it hit me: What a perfect way to combine two of my favorites, travel, and cannabis.
Last week, after living in the Coachella Valley for nearly three years, I finally climbed aboard the CannaBUS, a party-bus style, tricked out Mercedes Sprinter Limo complete with video screens, snacks and (non-alcoholic) beverages. What followed was an infinitively informative and fun three hour tour.
I’m local; and this jaunt gave me the opportunity to see our wonderful desert haven through the eyes of tourists from Washington State, Oklahoma and even right here in SoCal. As the “out of towners” listened, Lynne Daniels, an energetic ambassador of cannabis knowledge, experienced tour operator and proprietor of The CannaBUS Express Tours Experience, guided our group through a strategically scheduled, but surprisingly easy- breezy adventure. Despite the organized structure the entire trip felt spontaneous and joyous.
The CannaBUS rolled through the valley as Lynne explained a few top level cannabinoid factoids and basic differences and advantages in the cannabis plant compounds to the curious travelers. The tour stopped at three primary locations. We met folks at Coachella Valley’s first licensed grow facility and drove through Desert Hot Springs (A.K.A. Desert “pot” Springs) to weed’s version of a micro-brewery, their eyes opened to the connection between weed and travel.
Lynne says these tours are how she gives back to the community. Her weekly (depending on the season and demand) outings educate visitors ranging from birthday celebrants to boomers with fond memories of $10 lids and the uninitiated. The CannaBUS travels to labs, bakeries, grows, microbusinesses, dispensaries and lounges.
Not every tour is the same, but each one exposes visitors to an overview of the evolution of what the cannabis industry calls “seed to sale” and “soil to oil.” A growing number of colleges, universities and online courses often take a semester or two to teach about the stages of growing the plant, processing the plant, packaging the plant, distributing, and selling the plant. Here in the Coachella Valley, a veritable Disneyland of cannabis attractions, The CannaBUS Express Tours Experience offered a chockfull session in Cannabis 101 in an afternoon.
Despite the wealth of information shared and in-depth tours nothing felt hurried or rushed. Our cohort spent quality time with an executive at Canndescent who showed us of the region’s largest and certainly most established grow facilities. Then we compared it with The Microbuddery, a microbusiness which grows, and processes weed, and also has a full-on dispensary. Our host, Larry Loren helped the newbies get the concept by relating it to a micro-brewery, which brought nods of understanding.
Folks asked questions and got answers. One couple from Missouri, a couple in their early 70s, shared that he was a self-described former stoner, but she had a lot of concerns about using cannabis. By the time the bus dropped us off at The Bank 420 in downtown Palm Springs, the folks from the “show me” state had been shown and were looking forward to experimenting with low dose cannabis beverages back at their resort. They didn’t even know drinks existed.
Ah, the power of travel to make new discoveries.
Two other of my fellow passengers were from nearby. She was a nurse. It was her son’s birthday, and this excursion was a gift from her. It seems he is a frequent cannabis user, primarily for medicinal purposes, but his mom just couldn’t get it. So, she thought this tour would serve a number of purposes: mother – son bonding; education and it would be fun.
Little did she know that she was the ideal client for CannaBUS Express Tours. She literally checked off all the boxes on the concepts they use as a slogan: Educational. Exclusive. Entertaining. By the end of the afternoon her perception had changed.
In deference to the passengers particularly interested in healing qualities of cannabis, the creator of Wild Bill’s Miracle Balm shared her experience, strength, and hope with her lovingly created ointment (which is working really well on my neck BTW), and then the whole group stopped at Hemp City to stock up on lotions and potions.
Since Lynne crafts the tour around visitors depth of knowledge and interests in the cannabis space, everyone walked away with a smile on their face. She says she does personalized tours from time to time, but this group tour had all the trappings of a personalized tour.
It felt handcrafted from the get-go.