"We're all friends, now!" Marco announces to the hotboxed bus, smoke diffused across the air like morning mist.
He's visiting Portland from Santiago, Chile, with a few buddies to check out what legal weed looks like—and what better way to survey the scene than with a guided tour?
It's a sunny Saturday morning, and Marco and his companions have piled onto the "Big Yellow Pot Bus" alongside a couple from Omaha for a Grow House excursion, one of several themed outings offered by cannabis tourism agency High 5 Tours.
The tour includes dispensary visits, food cart stop-offs and a guided walkthrough of medically licensed cannabis manufacturing facility Sticky Finger Organics.
Between points of interest, attendees are encouraged to smoke on the bus.
Making our way from Foster Buds to the aforementioned grow op, the group is all about sampling their recent purchases. Pre-rolls are blazed, bowls are packed and the communal dab nail is torched at irregular intervals—all while cruising down the freeway at 60 miles per hour.
This might sound a little excessive, but for tourists who can't legally smoke weed in public and happen to be lodging in locations subject to Oregon's Indoor Clean Air Act, there aren't many options for safe places to consume cannabis: you gotta smoke it where you can, and the High 5 bus is one of the rare places.
High 5 Tours owner and operator Sam Rosenbaum explains the legal workaround: "It's a private vehicle and…we have a divider which addresses the Indoor Clean Air Act so that our [driver] is separated and not in an area with smoke."
With that divider, you have a legal smoke spot, accessible to anyone with enough dough to buy a seat.
When we arrive at Sticky Finger Organics, we're greeted by master grower John Robinson, who first shows us his flower room before taking us to a separate vegetative chamber to check out younger plants that aren't yet big enough to support mature buds.
Robinson explains the lifecycle of the plant and a living-soil nutritional plan—detailing the symbiotic relationship between beneficial bacteria, fungi and the cannabis plant. After the crash course, he joins us on the bus to share some of the Black Cherry Soda flower he recently pulled out of his garden, and from there, we're off to Cartlandia and another dispensary before calling it a day.
The Grow House trip is one of several offered by High 5 Tours.
On Mondays and Fridays, a journey to Multnomah Falls is punctuated by dispensary visits. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for craft beer- and cannabis-loving explorers. Wednesday's Coffee and Cannabis tour takes attendees to the Nossa Familia roasting facility, as well as java and ganja outlets of choice.
The tours are laid-back. There's minimal scripting on the part of our guide, Rosenbaum.
"We don't think of ourselves as a typical tour where we're… giving you information and kind of overloading you with Portland facts," says Rosenbaum. "It's more of a conversation on the bus. We try to make every tour kind of a custom experience for the person and what they want to learn and not just a bunch of information that we think they might want."
The whole day feels a lot like hanging out in an old friend's living room.
Rosenbaum says he intentionally cultivates the relaxed atmosphere, actively embracing the dual roles his company fills: it's not just about showing people around town, it's equally about giving tourists a place where they can feel comfortable smoking without the fear of judgement or the pressure of an overwhelming guide.
"We're getting high together, we're all getting at the same level," says Rosenbaum. "So you might be saying something crazy, but we're also high over here and we understand what you're going through."
Book your High 5 cannabis tour, Monday through Friday, at high5tours.com or 503-303-2275.