SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Cannabis tourism is an industry that has grown from the legalization of marijuana in California. Now lawmakers are pushing a bill to protect drivers of party buses and limousines from the effects of second-hand cannabis smoke.
Victor Pinho is the owner and operator of Emerald Farm Tours based in San Francisco. His bus company takes customers on tours similar to those taking place in wine country.
“We are being respectful,” said Pinho. “Just like you wouldn’t pour alcohol on a driver, we wouldn’t blow smoke in the driver’s face. We want them to be safe. It’s the same thing with a cannabis tour.”
State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) has introduced Senate Bill 625, which would require buses, limousines, and cabs that allow cannabis use to provide drivers with a sealed, separate ventilated space. Drivers who test positive for marijuana could lose their commercial license.
Pinho says his party buses with Emerald Farm Tours already comply with a sealed space for drivers and agrees with the bill.
“I think the Senate bill is reasonable, I don’t think there’s anything in there that cannabis tourism companies should really have to worry about,” Pinho said.
Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, says it’s a grey area and individuals and companies are still grappling with changing laws around cannabis. She outlined where it’s legal to consume.
“[It is legal] If it’s in a designated area if it’s a private home or consumption lounge attached to a retail operation for cannabis,” said Robinson.
It remains illegal for a passenger or drivers to smoke pot in vehicles on a state highway, but California law has exemptions for passengers of buses, taxis, and limousines. This is a loophole lawmakers want to close.
“We really need to make sure that drivers on the road are not consuming and that drivers are protected if other people in the vehicle are consuming,” Robinson said.
Cody Osbourne, the owner of Red Carpet Limousine and Party Bus Sacramento, is choosing to wait until the laws are clear. When pressed about his business Osbourne said, ” We don’t allow marijuana in our limos or party buses because the drivers could get high and it’s a liability for us.”
Pinho with Emerald Farm Tours says any issue can be worked around.
“The idea here is that with some basic ventilation it’s not going to be a problem,” Pinho said.
The bill requires everyone on the party bus or limo to be over the age of 21 if marijuana is consumed. Lawmakers say the marijuana tourism industry needs safety standards as customers are taking advantage of the new laws in California