Startup costs: $30,000 to $40,000
Equipment needed: Private residence to rent or buy, reservations software system, computers, phones, furniture, linens
The idea for a cannabis-friendly bed and breakfast came to Joel Schneider in the bathroom — a hotel bathroom. “I was hiding in there, smoking a joint, blowing the smoke into the toilet and constantly flushing,” he says. “I knew I was far from the only one doing this and I didn’t want to hide anymore, so I started my own lodging business where it’s OK — and legal — to smoke pot on the premises.”
In 2014, the veteran lawyer and New York native made his pipe dream a reality with Bud and Breakfast. It’s a rented private home-based bed and breakfast in Denver. There, guests aged 21 and older can puff or vape cannabis products or nibble on THC-infused edibles from their own legally-sourced stashes, he says, in living and dining rooms and patios.
Schneider, who says he has smoked pot since he was 14, now operates a total of three bed and breakfast locations in the Centennial State, with 22 rooms in all. In addition to renting rooms for between $149 and $399 a night (depending on the location), each sells marijuana paraphernalia, including glass pipes, bongs and rolling papers, to guests. Complimentary candy and other snacks, such as granola, are placed around the premises to “satisfy guests’ munchies.”
“What we’ve learned is that, as the cannabis culture is very communal, our guests love to share,” Schneider says. “You don’t pass a cocktail around. You pass a joint. That’s what makes us unique. No one is locked in their room smoking alone and feeling paranoid. They’re enjoying marijuana in a safe haven the way it was meant to be enjoyed — together.”
He’s also learned that lodgers often smoke up more before they check out, mainly because it’s illegal to travel across state lines or by air with legal weed. “Let’s just say there’s a lot of waking and baking going on here,” he says.
There’s enough of that happening to earn Schneider approximately a million dollars in revenue a year, he says. Eventually, he hopes to franchise Bud and Breakfast. His advice to those considering jumping into the burgeoning cannabis-friendly lodging industry: “Don’t think for one second that just because you open up that people are going to make your place a destination they go out of their way to go to. You must be located in a tourist area. Location, location, location holds true.”
He also cautions against hiring all-out stoners. “You’ll burn through a lot of staff if you don’t make it clear to them that they have to be broken from that,” he says. “That they’re not just stoners, but they’re going to have to be responsible and do the job you hired them to do.”
Schneider says it’s difficult to estimate the total cost to start up his hospitality business, as he launched it with $100,000 and was wiped out within a week, then had to raise more funds. Still, he estimates that, to do it right, those who aspire to do what he does, renting homes and converting them into bed and breakfasts, might need as little as $30,000 to $40,000 to start. Somewhere in that range should cover first and last month’s rent, furniture, a reservations software system, a website and basic renovations, if needed, he says.
Bud and Breakfast isn’t Schneider’s first marijuana-focused business. Before diving into the lodging arena, he published his own marijuana-focused newspaper, the now defunct Mile-High Times. He’s confident he’ll have a much longer, stronger run with his latest cannabis venture.
“I believe in what we’re doing,” he says. “We’re helping people come out of hiding and, believe me, they’re ready to.”