Cannabis travels

Hassle-free strategies for tourists who want to light up

The cannabis-friendly Desert Hot Springs Inn features a backyard smoking lounge.

The cannabis-friendly Desert Hot Springs Inn features a backyard smoking lounge.

Photo by Ken Magri

Imagine you’re a tourist in Sacramento and want to get high. After locating a dispensary on the edge of downtown, you purchase some local, top-shelf buds. Now where do you smoke them? Unlike Portland or San Francisco, Sacramento has no private lounges, cafes or dispensaries where a visitor can light up.

When travelers don’t have public choices, they most often choose to smoke in their hotel rooms. It’s legal, because renting the room for a night constitutes a private residence. But the management doesn’t like it.

“Most hotels have a $250 cleaning charge if they go into your room and smell smoke,” said John Thatcher, innkeeper at the Desert Hot Springs Inn. “It’s a boxed item you initial on your check-in sheet.”

The Desert Hot Springs Inn, located near Palm Springs, is a rare “cannabis friendly” spa that allows smoking in its large backyard, and vaping in all rooms and around the pool. They will even help you find a local dispensary.

Among the first in a growing trend towards accommodating cannabis smokers, Thatcher says bookings are up 50 percent since the hotel’s policy change. “The guests don’t have to be discrete, just respectful of the other guests. Cannabis guests are very low-key and a great group to host,” Thatcher said.

But for those traveling to destinations other than the Coachella Valley, we compiled a few strategies for hassle-free hotel-room smoking.

Room with a balcony

The easiest solution is to book a room with a balcony. Open air dissipates cannabis smoke faster than anything. A balcony allows you to discreetly step outside, blow a hit into the atmosphere, and step back in. If the hotel’s website doesn’t show balconies, call and ask, or look elsewhere.

The travel site lists both cannabis-friendly hotels and hotels with private balconies. It also recommends cannabis-friendly vacation rentals in states that allow adult-use cannabis.

Shower with a bud

If you can’t find a balcony, retreat to the bathroom and create a steamy sauna. Turn on the hot water and, with the shower curtain drawn shut, aim the shower head toward an inside corner. Now sit outside, on the edge of the tub. As steam accumulates, blow hits into the shower. Misty air will eliminate the smoke. Even if the bathroom is equipped with fire sprinklers, steam from a shower won’t set them off. For more caution, position a wet towel along the bottom of the door.

Use pipes, not joints

Joints are not as practical as tourists think. They produce too much smoke, especially between hits. A pipe makes less smoke because the bowl can be covered and relit. Homemade pipes and bongs have been fashioned out of everything from an apple to a Pringles can. The simplest design for travelers requires only an empty aluminum can and a pin. Push in and down along the side of the can until its crumpling metal forms a bowl. Poke holes at the bottom of the bowl, and voila! Afterward, the pipe can be stomped down and flattened for recycling.

The dryer-sheet filter

Take along scented dryer sheets in a zip-lock bag. Once at the hotel, save a cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll, crumple up the dryer sheets and stuff them into the tube. When cannabis hits are blown through the tube, the smoke comes out smelling like the clothes dryer. Using five sheets, we tested this method on a friend who doesn’t smoke cannabis. After hot-boxing a small bathroom, she came in and said, “Smells like dryer sheets.”

Clean up and tip the housekeeper

A good general rule is to leave behind a clean room and five bucks for the housekeeper, with a note that says “Thanks!” Such gratitude traditionally helps housekeepers forget about roaches accidentally left behind in the bathroom soap dish.