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Cannanaskis hopes to blaze a new trail with cannabis tourism through Kananaskis Country



Cannanaskis hopes to blaze a new trail with cannabis tourism through Kananaskis Country


Cannanaskis steers pot-imbibing guests through the scenic foothills and mountains west of Calgary while regaling them with 12,000 years of marijuana history



Dave Dormer admits to a tinge of reefer sadness in the reluctance of Alberta tourism promoters to embrace his dream.

But his high hopes for a Kananaskis Country cannabis tour are nonetheless coming to fruition, and blazing what he insists is a new trail in the province’s tourism industry.


The longtime local journalist has launched Cannanaskis, which steers pot-imbibing guests through the scenic foothills and mountains west of Calgary while regaling them with 12,000 years of marijuana history.

“I believe I’ll be the first commercially licensed and insured cannabis tour in Alberta,” said Dormer.

“People aren’t going to go to Calgary for the cannabis, but they will come here for the mountains and consume cannabis.”

The five-hour trip begins at the FivePoint Cannabis store in Bridgeland where patrons can stock up — if they haven’t brought their own stash.

With Dormer at the wheel of his “CannaVan,” guests are then transported up to Highway 68 in K-Country’s foothills landscape where they’ll make the first stop of the tour.


“I’ve got a secret smoking spot . . . I’ve never seen anyone else there when I’ve visited,” he said.

“I’ve got a bong people can use and I can teach people how to roll (joints) . . . people can sit and consume in a really cool natural environment while I do the driving.”

The tour then buzzes along Highway 40, with an optional quick hike at Barrier Lake, and stops farther down a valley hemmed by sawtoothed peaks Dormer says make the perfect backdrop for the THC-touched.

To ward off the munchies, there’s catered charcuterie for guests, who will be masked and limited in number for pandemic safety.

But unlike some cannabis tours in the U.S., guests can’t legally smoke pot in Dormer’s van, an activity legally pursued in the fresh mountain air.

In fact, says Dormer, Calgary’s ban on public cannabis consumption or the use of any cannabis by businesses or services could drive people to tours like his.

That’s due to a stigma born of nearly a century of prohibition that’s also made tourism promoters leery of embracing cannabis tourism, he added.

“They want nothing to do with cannabis, there’s zero support — Tourism Calgary was very polite in rejecting this,” said Dormer.


Last year, Tourism Calgary and provincial tourism officials told Postmedia they had no interest in the genre, saying it holds little potential in a country where there’s no local monopoly on legalized cannabis.

Dormer said he hopes to cut through the stigma surrounding pot with a tour guide’s tutorial on the drug’s benefits and the politics of pot prohibition dating to the 1920s, while also taking visitors back thousands of years when the plant was first treated as a medicine.


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“It’s how it went from a textile in the neolithic period to you guys on this tour,” he said.

“I’ve spent 20 years researching it, it’s really fascinating and there’s a lot more to it than just stoners and Cheech and Chong.”

Dormer’s likely on the ground floor of a lucrative business sector, especially if or when Canadian politicians further liberalize pot laws, said Nathan Mison, chairman of the Alberta Cannabis Council.

“I’m glad he’s at the forefront of doing it — when the rules change, he’ll be ahead of the game,” said Mison.

His group has lobbied Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis to allow cannabis use by vehicle passengers — as limos are currently licensed for liquor — and for consumption at events.

“The illicit market is already doing that right now, so why not move it into the legal realm?” said Mison.

In provinces such as B.C. and Ontario, there’s been a push to allow licensed producers to welcome samplers, “just like we have at wineries . . . (Dormer) could drive that bus and stop at those farm gates,” he said.

More of that could become a reality, he said, when a review of Canada’s cannabis legalization legislation is completed next year.

But an obstacle for businesses moving into cannabis tourism is the fact any American affiliates they have would face legal jeopardy in a U.S. where prohibition remains federally, said Mison.











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