April 02, 2014 | WES ABNEY
Kush Tourism is offering weekly public tours of Seattle’s expanding marijuana industry
Founders Michael Gordon and Chase Nobles have a vision for the future of Cannabis tourism that gives participants a behind-the-scenes, hands-on look at the people and places that have made Seattle’s MMJ industry a modern marvel.
Their Seattle tour blends the best of the Cannabis industry into an informative afternoon suited for people from all walks of life — without the need to get stoned to experience it, either.
“Today we are making history,” Gordon announced to a group of 10 tour attendees and as many media people, unfazed by the cameras capturing his every move. “This is a first step for our city … We see this not only as a great opportunity for Washington state, but also to make sure that the needs of medical patients are met and respected.”
The tour began inside 7 Point Studios, a workshop on Dearborn Street in downtown Seattle designed for all types of art owned by Nathan Aweida. Aweida also owns the Boro School inside the studio, where members of the tour were treated to a hands-on glass-blowing demonstration. Aweida was beginning work on a Sherlock-style dry pipe, which would be finished by the time the tour looped back roughly three hours later.
With the casual assurance of a master, Aweida was comfortable behind the torch while keeping the focus of the class gathered around him. As the glass sparkled and popped, members of the tour were mesmerized by the display of flame and color in front of them. Aweida’s voice stayed clear and calm while his fingers danced with the hot glass, answering questions for the group and media.
“I don’t only make pipes. I love glass, no matter what it is being made into. I focus on artwork,” Aweida explained. “Here in Washington, I feel that the attitude is changing. Now people can turn around and focus on the art, not the fact that it is used for Cannabis.”
After an hour of questions and answers, the group loaded into the Kush Tourism van to be shuttled to the next stop, a medical Cannabis access point called Herb’s House on Phinney Ridge. Herb’s House was founded by Sharon Jacobson, who blends medicinal strains and also has a smoothie bar and coffee house.
As the tour group trooped into the main floor coffee house, they were greeted with finger sandwiches and a delicious butternut squash soup, and the opportunity to order a fresh-squeezed smoothie or espresso. Jacobson introduced the staff and gave a introduction to the business before turning the kitchen over for a medible demonstration and a Q&A session. Alison Draisin, founder of Ettalews Medibles, showed how she makes her famous seven-layer bars.
“The seven-layer bar was my first edible that ever got noticed, and then I developed a whole line of gluten-free and vegan-options for patients,” she explained while mixing an aromatic blend of ingredients with fresh Cannabis-infused butter.
“I took a lot of my family recipes and made a medicated version of what Grandma used to make.”
The warm smell of cooking edibles mingled in the air as patient and grower Nick Kelly called the group over to a bin filled with freshly dried Cannabis and several pairs of scissors. Kelly went over many lesser-known aspects of processing a plant into the beautifully manicured buds that users have come to expect, and then let the group try trimming for themselves. For attendee Brian Schechter of Seattle, the hands-on trimming was a treat.
“Learning hands-on at Herb’s House was really cool,” Schechter said back at 7 Point. “I think it’s the exposure to this new industry and the tourism that makes it special. This feels like Christmas!”
The next stop of the tour was at the beautiful West Seattle home of cooking instructor Mary White. The group stepped into a naturally lit kitchen with gleaming granite counters, champagne glasses at each place setting and a display of different Cannabis medibles and cooking items. White teaches cooking at South Seattle Community College, though it isn’t usually with this set of ingredients.
“I want you to take home more from this class than a recipe for Canna-butter,” White said. “When you are eating with Cannabis and playing with food, be bold! I want you to own that. I teach a lot of classes, but this one is definitely the most fun. Once I realized how delicious and wonderful it is to eat your medicine, I wanted to share it!”
To attendee Heather Huttner of Seattle, the cooking class was all the reason she needed to join the tour.
“This is my second time taking a class from Mary and it is great. She has always been open and honest about Cannabis, which is why she makes a good cooking host,” Huttner explained. “All of the rest of the tour was new, and you see the whole industry start to finish. Growing, trimming, cooking, glass blowing … you see the whole usage and purpose, and not just for recreational but from a medicinal view as well.”
One of the big goals for the tour is to highlight the medicinal aspects of Cannabis, not just the recreational high. For all who attended, the overall values of the tour were right on point.
“This experience was incredibly affirming,” said David Muret of Seattle, a founder of a startup Cannabis staffing agency. “I think it really shows that this industry and those working in it are playing at the level I was hoping to see.”
For more information www.kushtourism.com