International Cannabis Business Conference

Smoking in Canna-Tour Buses in California Now Banned

Tourists love to take charter buses in legal states that allow you to smoke cannabis on board. But an amendment to the Transportation Omnibus bill (HB 1810) that was approved on September 12 and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on October 10 will stop that from happening in California, the state with the largest marijuana market in the country. The new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

A previous Senate Bill (625) addressed the issue of passengers under 21 smoking on buses and agreed to creating sealed compartments so the smoke and smell doesn't impair bus drivers. But HB 1810 now reads:

"Existing law prohibits any driver or passenger in a motor vehicle from drinking any alcoholic beverage or consuming any cannabis or cannabis product. Existing law makes a violation of that prohibition an infraction. Existing law exempts from this prohibition a passenger in a bus, taxicab, limousine, housecar or camper or pedicab, as specified. This bill would make that exemption applicable only to alcoholic beverages consumed by those passengers and not cannabis. By eliminating the exemption for cannabis and thus expanding the scope of the crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program."

This bill overrules 625, which read:

"This bill would instead exempt prohibit the ingestion smoking or vaping of cannabis products by a passenger in a bus, taxicab, or limousine limousine, but would create a limited exemption for limousines, modified limousines, and charter buses only if there are no passengers under 21 years of age present and the driver is sealed off from the passenger compartment, as specified."

On board the Emerald Farms Tour bus in Northern California

Victor Pinho, who runs Emerald Farm Tours in San Francisco, is livid about this sudden change. "SB 625 offered common-sense regulations that we and most of my colleagues were already adhering to," he tells CelebStoner. "Do we want visitors to San Francisco to be smoking in their rental cars and hotels or in Union Square? Or, do we provide and properly regulate tours and opportunities for visitors to have a private and safe experience?"

On September 6. California Cannabis Business Association executive director Lindsay Robinson urged the chairman of the Assembly's Transportation Committee, Jim Frazier, to "reconsider amending AB 1810 and support policies, as set forth in SB 625, that establish appropriate industry standards for cannabis tourism, while improving the safety of both passengers and drivers."

"Cannabis tourism presents an incredible economic opportunity for our cities and small businesses. This prohibitive move will only further limit the growth of an already challenged adult-use market."

Pinho wonders why this is happening now since "I am not aware of any incident or demerit against any of the operators in the space." He adds: "Cannabis tourism presents an incredible economic opportunity for our cities and small businesses. This prohibitive move will only further limit the growth of an already challenged adult-use market. California hosts hundreds of millions of visitors to our state every year, eager to learn about cannabis and spend their dollars in our economy. Businesses like Emerald Farm Tours offer visitors and locals a unique opportunity for the canna-curious to explore, while ensuring guests are properly educated, safe and not being a nuisance."

Emerald Farm offers two tours: The Seed-to-Sale Tour, which visits a nursery, a dispensary and an extraction company ($295); and the San Francisco Tour ($149).

With Newsom signature on the bill, smoking and vaping will be banned on Emerald Farm's buses, but it won't prevent passengers from sampling cannabis at the tour stops.

"Our partner consumption lounges across the state have reached out in solidarity and support," Pinho notes. 

This will affect similar canna-tour companies, including Cannabis Tours, Kush Tourism and 420 Bus.

This article was posted on September 16 and updated on October 10.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.