Is this cannabis B&B the start of New England pot tourism?
AUBURN, Maine — There was nothing unusual about the check-in process at Maine Greenyards. There were, however, a few tell-tale signs that this was not like any other bed and breakfast I’d previously visited.
The first thing I noticed was the smell in the air, and it was decidedly not lavender potpourri. The heavy, fragrant aroma reminded me of the time my aunt joined a commune in Western Massachusetts and my family dropped by for a visit. I was 4 years old at the time, and I think I got high off the second hand purple haze.
That smell informed me that Mary Jane was a permanent guest at Maine Greenyards (slogan: The way leaf should be). If you’re not good with innuendo, I’m trying to tell you that this bed and breakfast is actually a bud and breakfast. It’s cannabis-themed lodging. I’m talking about pot, marijuana, Satan’s salad, sticky icky, or treefers. Whatever the kids are calling it these days.
I convinced a friend to join me for a night at what I think is New England’s first official bud and breakfast. The owners of the inn, which is located in a 1950s mansion with an indoor pool and hot tub, are a very sweet couple who were busy with this season’s harvest. But they weren’t too busy to show us up to our room and explain our goodie bag. The little white bag contained two sizable buds, two cannabis cookies, and a joint.
Back downstairs, we were shown where the grinder and glass pipes were kept. We were free to use any of them to take advantage of the contents of our goodie bag.
I grabbed the bag and set about getting to work. In order to properly write about Maine Greenyards, I needed to get high.
I’m not a fan of smoking, so I took a cookie. I’ve been warned many times that edibles pack a potent punch, so I only took two bites, and then suggested a hike. It was a beautiful afternoon and Maine Greenyards is located on 16 acres.
John Jones and Alexandra Tuccy, the owners of the B&B, have a plan. These savvy young ganjapreneurs want to turn Maine Greenyards into a kind of cannabis winery. They envision guests touring the property to see how marijuana is grown, learning about different varieties, and, of course, sampling the goods.
They bought the place last December, just after Maine passed a law legalizing marijuana. They were inspired by the booming pot tourism market in Colorado. It was either the B&B, or they were going to buy a van and drive it around New Zealand.
They explained that they’re not selling pot. They’re renting suites. (They also rent on Airbnb.) You can have pot if you want it, but no one will tie your hands behind your back with hemp rope and force a bong to your lips. Like Massachusetts, Maine passed a referendum legalizing marijuana. Also, like Massachusetts, lawmakers in Maine are trying to figure out how to enact the law. Jones said he’s leaving the details to the state, but his pot farming is not a commercial operation. He’s not selling, he’s simply giving those who enjoy an occasional boom tree a place to rest their weary, stoned heads.
Meanwhile, I was hiking the farm with my friend Jim — which is an alias. My friend Jeff didn’t want his name to appear in this story. Jim and I went to dinner in downtown Auburn, came back, and went about the business of getting high. Jim decided he would smoke. I ate more of the cookie. Still no reaction. I wasn’t sure what to do while getting high, so we sat on the sofa and watched a Netflix documentary about airports. That’s a thing stoners do, right? I finished the cookie.
Suddenly, I felt something. It was as if Grace Slick was leaning into my ear singing “Remember what the dormouse said, feed your head.” I got up and walked around the sofa repeatedly to make sure my legs still worked. The room got a little fuzzy. It was like I was stumbling through a Georges Seurat painting. Was the dormouse nibbling at my legs? Wait, what’s a dormouse?
Ay Dios mio! I was baked.
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Perhaps this is a good time to take a break and talk about pot tourism, or, as those in the industry call it, cannatourism. According to the Marijuana Policy Group, legal weed created 18,005 full-time jobs in Colorado and added about $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in 2015. Given that marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts, could the state experience a Colorado-like spike in tourism numbers?
“I think you’re going to see it integrated into the tourism industry the same way you do in Colorado,” said Bethany Gomez, director of research at the Brightfield Group, which offers insights into the cannabis industry. “It’s an extension of nature tourism, like hiking and leaf peeping. It makes sense.”
In addition to bud and breakfasts, Gomez said Massachusetts could see businesses such as pot-themed spas, or cannabis and wine tastings establishments.
“There’s no shortage of sophisticated New Englanders who are using cannabis,” she said.
A group on Cape Cod is already looking ahead at how to best prepare for cannabis tourism. The group, called Regulate Cape Cod, is planning a trip to Colorado next year to see how towns such as Vail and Aspen handle both seasonal tourism and marijuana tourism. The group is also meeting with residents and officials on the Cape who want marijuana sales banned in their towns, hoping to convince them that marijuana tourism can be safe and profitable.
“We’ll go to Colorado and see what they’re doing,” said Spencer Knowles of Regulate Cape Cod. “We want to take some best practices, and we want to educate the towns on the Cape because this is going to have to be sold at the local level. Once we’re able to put a dollar amount on the potential for cannatourism, they can look at the economics of it. Cannatourism is all extra and residual.”
Not everyone believes that pot will result in a large boom for Massachusetts tourism.
“Most people probably aren’t going to book a trip to Massachusetts specifically to come smoke pot legally,” said Dan Peltier, a reporter at the travel industry website Skift. “But if they enjoy the drug and they’re already coming to the state for a vacation, pot could certainly be an influence and an add-on inspiration for getting them to visit. But pot likely won’t be the leading hook for most travelers.”
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I’d like to be able to tell you that the consumption of my cannatourism pot cookie resulted in a night of dancing in the fields of Maine Greenyards, followed by mind-altering star gazing with a bowl of toasted paprika pumpkin seeds. Instead, I landed face down on my bed and started thinking about the pop stylings of the 1980s girl group the Bangles. Why? Because I ate too much of the cookie and I was tired of Grace Slick singing about mice.
I woke up the following morning still feeling the effects of the cookie. I went down the large staircase and enjoyed what Tuccy and Jones called the “wake and bake breakfast.” No paprika pumpkin seeds, but there was very delicious pumpkin bread. Jim told me he had gotten slightly buzzed, but was otherwise fine.
I sat down with my laptop after breakfast and started writing. I wanted to capture the experience before it faded like the effects of the cookie. Without thinking, I quickly typed one sentence.
“Remember what the dormouse said, feed your head.”