It's a gorgeous early April evening in Spokane's Browne's Addition neighborhood, the kind when everyone on the street seems more pleasant than usual because it's so nice. A lawnmower rattles loudly nearby, producing simultaneous smells of gasoline and freshly cut grass, signaling the unofficial start of spring.
And on the porch of 1899 House, Carl the cat wants a treat.
Like most who step onto this porch — and inside the historic home built for Spokane's 10th mayor, Edward Louis Powell — Carl the cat is just a visitor. He's looking for catnip, which he may soon get from Gillian Cranehahn, whose lap Carl just jumped into.
Human visitors to the bed and breakfast run by Cranehahn and her partner Louie Flores don't come for the catnip. Though some do come for, well, another herb.
"We can't provide you with the product," Flores says, "but we can give you a map [of where to buy it nearby]."
The "product," of course, is cannabis. Marijuana. Pot. Weed. Whatever your preferred term — Flores and Cranehahn gravitate to cannabis — it's welcomed and legal to use in their business, which is also their home, under certain conditions. The fenced-in side yard is out of public view from the street. And just as with tobacco, indoor smoking is prohibited.
Cranehahn and Flores didn't set out to open a B&B specifically for travelers wanting to take part in the growing marijuana tourism industry. But in Washington, Colorado and other states that have since legalized recreational sale or use, there is a business opportunity catering to out-of-state (and country) tourists. They opened in 2012 after remodeling the house, which had been converted to apartments from its original floor plan.
"We're always reconstructing, deconstructing or remodeling some aspect of the house," Cranehahn says. "It's very similar to the potholes in Spokane, though not as annoying."
The journey to being a stop for marijuana tourism started with a regular guest, a naturopath, who used medical marijuana and prescribed it for patients. Flores inquired with county and state officials about how to comply with laws, which coincided with Washington passing I-502 legalizing recreational pot in November 2012.
"We haven't seen a negative impact from B&Bs who advertise themselves as pot-friendly. They still are professional businesses," says Chase Nobles, who runs the Seattle-based pot tourism company Kush Tourism with his business partner Michael Gordon. As part of their business, Nobles and Gordon called every bed and breakfast in Washington and asked about their openness to marijuana use by guests. That's how Kush Tourism found and started promoting 1899 House.
"If you're traveling and you consume cannabis, you're probably going to choose a place that is friendly," Nobles says.
Cranehahn estimates that only 15 percent of guests come for the marijuana-friendly atmosphere. Walking into the house, there are no overt signs (or smells) you might normally associate with weed, other than a few pamphlets and business cards of local marijuana retailers. The ornate detail of the décor and original 1899 wood floors and furniture are what catch the eye.
She points to the centerpiece couch in the parlor, still with its original 19th century upholstery. It was previously in the lobby of what she calls "one of the best whorehouses in Spokane."
Sensing what anyone might be wondering, she adds with a wry smile: "There's not a spot on it."
The traditional charm, friendliness and "homey" feeling of a bed and breakfast are what Cranehahn and Flores are going for with 1899 House. They say openness to marijuana use is just like welcoming LGBTQ guests.
"The cannabis aspect isn't a big focus or major factor," Flores says. "It's an amenity, like a glass of wine."
One telling, yet subtle, sign does greet all 1899 House guests, whether or not they know it. The antique wooden clocks in the living and dining rooms are permanently stuck on one time: 4:20. ♦