Published on December 1st, 2014 | by M. Morford


Not your grandpa’s Magical Mystery Tour: exploring legal pot with the Duchess of Downtown

In the 1960s and ‘70s, being “on the bus” was a metaphor for many things.

From The Beatles ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ to ‘Magic Bus’ by The Who to Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters and their flagship bus, affectionately named ‘Further’ (as seen in the featured image above), to Firesign Theatre’s “I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus” psychedelic comedy album, being “on the bus” meant being part of something (literally or figuratively) larger than one’s self and in motion.

We got on the bus to get across town, around the world, into other cultural realms, into the depth of one’s own thoughts and feelings, or to engage as a citizen of our own fragile, irreplaceable earth.

Here in Tacoma, as then, we see some manifestations of that ‘Ark’ sensibility; some may be content with inertia, destruction, and a general sense of ‘that’s just how things are’ but then there are those who dedicate their lives to making changes.

One small but steady stream of changes comes from Angela Jossy and Jackie Casella. Yes, they do the Third Thursday Art Bus, but this November and December they also host Tacoma’s first Cannabis Tours.

Every city has its tours of history, architecture, or memorable neighborhoods. But of course Tacoma has its own spin on city tours – a tour of legal marijuana shops. I had the pleasure of joining the inaugural Cannabis Tour on November 8.

The average customer at most legal pot shops is white and middle-class and about age 50-55; any younger users are more likely to run into their parents – or bosses – than their friends in these stores.

This demographic was reflected in the twenty or so passengers on this maiden tour of Tacoma’s pot shops. Most were well over 50, and only a few under 40 – even fewer under 30. And of that 20 or so, only five admitted to buying pot while eight admitted to buying accessories, mostly as ‘gifts’. Of course.


Busriders explore one of the stops on the Cannabis Tour.

As with all of Angela’s and Jackie’s tours, all paying customers get a gift bag (no, not that kind of bag) that yes, did include a bag of chips.

The shops we toured are not the usual medical marijuana ‘clinic’ – and they are not incense-saturated, black-light lit head shops. And the mood music won’t be Marley, Hendrix or Led Zeppelin. You won’t see clerks in tie-dye or dreadlocks. These stores are not here to make a statement; they are here as businesses.

Yes, Marijuana is legal here, but that doesn’t mean there are no rules and revolution in the air; in fact there is an abundance of rules.

Pot shops must be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks and other pot shops. (I understand the distance from schools or parks, but why 1,000 feet from other pot stores? No public use is allowed and besides, we have our own Antique Row, museum and theater district and 6th Avenue with its string of eateries and gathering places, why not have our local pot neighborhood? I would bet this would be much easier to police and monitor.)


A little whimsy sneaks in at one of the Cannabis Tour stops.

Packages must not be opened in the shop – or in one’s car, or anywhere in public; only at home. Customers must be at least 21 to even enter any of these stores – with current, valid ID.

Only eight stores will be allowed in Tacoma (22 in Seattle). The number of stores in any given area is based on population – every 20,000 citizens warrant their own pot store.

Did you know that over 10% of those over 12 in Washington state smoke (or use) marijuana on a monthly basis? In Oregon, it’s over 12%. And that was from 2010-2012 – before it was legal in either state. And, as much as I have learned to not fully trust Wikipedia, check out these percentages of people who have used marijuana at some time in their lives.

There is no question that this is a step into the future. More and more states (and nations) will legalize pot.

For better or worse, these shops are not about enlightenment or revolution; they are all about commerce – and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we can minimize the emotional reactions by treating marijuana like any other product that requires responsible use.

Ten years from now, marijuana will be as earth-shaking as drinking espresso or craft beer, and we will all look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

As I was on my way home, I couldn’t help wishing there had been at least a few psychedelic swirls on the bus. Where’s Wavy Gravy when we need him?

Duchess of Downtown’s Cannabis Tour
December 6, 3 pm
Buy tickets
Learn more here:

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About the Author

Writer, teacher, community story-teller, poet, advocate of the oddities of earthly existence. Scavenger of the unlikely.

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