Morgan Night one of a handful of people working in a relatively new corner of the hospitality industry: the bud-and-breakfast. Both his 10-room Hicksville Pines Bud & Breakfast and Hicksville Trailer Palace & Artist Retreat have started allowing cannabis consumption on-site. And he says business has never been better.
"Most weekends people have the whole place, so it's kind of a place that people have gatherings and rent a few rooms, or the whole place and kind of let loose. Previously it was more so alcohol based. So, for me, myself, and for the innkeepers, it's ten times better having stoned people than drunk people. There's a lot less yelling, they're just always happy. Our vending machines get a lot busier. It's just a win across the board. We love having this policy just as far as quality of guests and quantity of guests, too because business has picked up."
What what made you decide to make your motel and your trailer palace a cannabis friendly place for people to stay?
The last couple years, I've been driving around the country a lot and was thinking of it when I was driving through Colorado. I was just noticing how many cannabis friendly businesses there were—this was about a year ago—and realized just because Prop 64 had already passes that was where California was headed. And more than anything, I really wanted to help de-stigmatize cannabis use and just make it normal. Not necessarily make it, like, a gimmicky thing. I just thought if people can drink, then they shouldn't be judged for using cannabis. I wanted to add that on top of whatever else we had going on. It's just another thing that I felt was how the world should be. I thought my business should reflect that.
And you felt like that market was being undeserved for cannabis friendly accommodations?
No, I don't think about it as far as market, or business plans, or things like that. I just think about what's right and wrong, you know? In my mind—not for anyone else but for me—it seems like cannabis shouldn't be stigmatized and people shouldn't have to sneak around using it or feel weird about using it. My business should reflect my views.
How have guests and people in the community reacted to your business?
Well, on the latter, people from the community haven't really cared. I heard rumors that one person in a city council meeting brought up that we were a bud-and-breakfast and had mistakenly thought that we had opened an illegal dispensary on site. Which wasn't anywhere close to the truth. So that wasn't a big deal. But everyone else has been super supportive. I think the community just doesn't care as long as it doesn't affect them and it really doesn't.
As far as the guests go, they love it. I mean, it's not like people haven't been using cannabis forever. People have been making up bullshit reasons to get their prescription cards for years, so it's not like Prop 64 made it that much different in California. Except for tourists. But you know, I think people just appreciate having a place where they can use. Or not use, you know there's a good portion of our our guests who aren't cannabis users and we try to respect them, too. We have community vaporizers and the indoor areas, so it's not like filled with smoke and stuff so people that don't use feel comfortable. And then all outdoor areas you're free to do whatever you want.
Do you have any plans to expand your cannabis offerings on-site?
We're looking into various options. I just went to a city council meeting in Riverside County to try to see where they're headed with cannabis regulation. There's a possibility we're going to open a dispensary at some point. But right now, the way that they're framing the rules, it seems like you wouldn't be able to consume on the same site as a dispensary. So that might not be in the cards. We might want that once it gets more squared away.
We might have a little kiosk, where delivery service comes in and sets up for a period of time every day. That seems to be more the direction that I'm thinking right now. So everyone has access but, there's no worry about conflicting with the county regulations with not being able to consume on the site of a dispensary.
So what can you provide right now for guests?
Originally, when we opened, we put everyone on our RV that we call 'The Cannabus,' and we'd take them to the dispensary. But that dispensary was illegal and the county shut it down. Now we're just giving every room a "free gift" when they check in. Which, under Prop 64, is allowed. Because one adult can give another adult up to an ounce of weed.
What's included in the "gift?"
We just give them a little souvenir container and a gram [of cannabis].
And then you would have other paraphernalia available on site?
Yeah, we do. We just started making our own pipes, mugs, bongs and rolling papers. Stuff like that can be purchased through most of our merchants and the vending machines. We have some stuff for t-shirts and stuff that the inn-keepers sell.
Where did you get the idea to leave a joint on people's pillows instead of a mint?
You know, someone emailed me about it, linked to an article and said, 'you know you can do this.' Because I was trying to figure out what to do until [California] figured out the regulations. And a guest emailed me and sent me a link to different Airbnbs that were doing that.
So I asked a lawyer about the about the legality of giving [cannabis] as a gift to guests and they assured me that it was legal. So, I was like, 'great.' Once we started the policy of giving free gifts we lowered hotel room prices across the board, just so there was no confusion of it being built into the room price.
How have people reacted to the free gifts?
According to the innkeepers, they loved them. We don't actually advertise it as something that they're going to get or anything so it's a surprise when they show up. And everyone loves free shit.
Has anybody thrown a big fit about it?
No, it's very clear from the emails we send you and from the website and stuff that we're 21+ and 420 friendly. There's definitely people that don't want it, or don't accept it. Some people I'm sure just keep it and give it to their friends.
The marijuana thing isn't really what we're about. It's kind of like the icing on the cake, but it's not the cake. I mean our whole thing is making really cool, fun themed rooms and having tons of stuff on the property for people to do. Which is where the cannabis thing kind of fit in great for what we were already doing.
Joshua Tree has a pool, and mini-golf, and archery, and BB guns. And Idlewyld has an amazing rec room with shuffleboard, darts and Nintendo Wii on this huge screen. And both places have free arcades and jukeboxes. There's just all this fun stuff for people to do. And everything, in my opinion, that you would already be doing in your life is more fun when you're high.
Do you think a lot of other people will try to make their hotels more cannabis friendly?
Yeah, absolutely. I hope so. Anywhere that you're allowed to smoke cigarettes you should be allowed to smoke cannabis. It just seems like a no-brainer. So I think probably a lot of hotels already have a cannabis tolerance policy, where they're not going to say anything if you're smoking in the smoking area or what-have-you. I think if alcohol is allowed, if you're allowed to BYOB to lots of hotels you should be allowed to BYOP. There's no difference, in fact it's a lot safer.
What do you think is stopping those businesses from promoting themselves as a cannabis friendly establishments?
I think it's decades of propaganda by the drug industry, the pharmaceutical industry and by the prison lobby that has led to people misunderstanding [cannabis consumption]. And being scared that it's a gateway drug or a bunch of other types of nonsense. I think it's just ingrained in people's brains.
It's going to take a while for it to be normalized. But the snowball is going down the hill. There's no stopping it. With Canada just legalizing—and even our shitbag president said that he doesn't think that Jeff Sessions should be going after states for legal cannabis. It's just like gay marriage. I feel like, you know, gay marriage kind of started with things like 'Will & Grace' where people just thought it was normalized and it wasn't a big deal and nothing to be afraid of. And cannabis is on the same path of really accelerated acceptance by the vast majority of the countries in the world.