Blake Grauerholz, Outco extraction manager, lets visitor Candace Reardon smell cannabis oil produced by Outco. Reardon recently toured the cannabis cultivator with MJ Tours, one of several companies offering such expeditions in San Diego.

Blake Grauerholz, Outco extraction manager, lets visitor Candace Reardon smell cannabis oil produced by Outco. Reardon recently toured the cannabis cultivator with MJ Tours, one of several companies offering such expeditions in San Diego. Photo by Stephen Whalen.

— Several cannabis tour companies have sprung up in San Diego County recently, filling a niche in the industry in an unexpected way.

“I know that they are trying to model it off of what we see being successful in Colorado,” said Dallin Young, executive director of the Association of Cannabis Professionals.

“(Colorado’s) tourism has expanded quite a bit since 2014 when they started doing recreational sales. So a lot of these people are

just trying to fill that niche here.” “(Colorado’s) tourism has expanded quite a bit since 2014 when they started doing recreational sales. So a lot of these people are just trying to fill that niche here.”

Kaylena Pinuelas, 36, started her cannabis tour company, MJ Tours, January 2018. She wanted to work in the industry to provide cannabis education she thought was lacking. Pinuelas felt a cannabis tour was her best option because it wouldn’t be federally illegal and it would be cheaper to run than a cannabis product producer.

“I thought of a way to be part of the industry without actually being in the industry,” said Pinuelas. “I have nothing to do with the industry — all I do is I provide transportation in a fun, educational way.”

The Ride

Pinuelas purchased her own tour bus, a Mercedes Sprinter 2018 Executive, for $100,000. The cushy limousine style van holds up to 13 customers plus a tour guide. Green lights illuminate the floor and ceilings and a TV displaying cannabis facts plays while the tour runs. MJ Tours Corp. works with a limo business that Pinuelas purchased to operate the tours.

Pinuelas said the company has started making income, around $2,000 to $3,000 per month. To make extra revenue, MJ Tours also offers personal concierge service.

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Entrepreneur Kaylena Pinuelas, second from right, purchased her own tour bus, a Mercedes Sprinter 2018 Executive, for $100,000. The cushy limousine style van holds up to 13 customers plus a tour guide. Green lights illuminate the floor and ceilings and a TV displaying cannabis facts plays while the tour runs. Pinuelas hands out badges on a recent tour.

She looked to the cannabis tours that Colorado was already doing for inspiration. She thought a lot of them were more party-oriented and she wanted to make her tours more about marijuana education.

Pinuelas said she’s been told by lawyers that using cannabis on tour buses is a legal gray area. She goes by the “limousine law” which states that passengers can consume alcohol as long as they are partitioned off from the driver. Pinuelas allows her customers to take edibles and use marijuana vapes but doesn’t allow smoking of marijuana.

MJ Tours offers several excursions: a grow tour looks at the cultivation side of cannabis; buds & brews stops at dispensaries and breweries; and weed & wine visits a dispensary then takes riders to Ramona wineries. Pinuelas is planning on rolling out a cannabis & cocktails tour which features visits to a dispensary, a distillery, and a cocktail lounge.

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