Paint and sip classes have been a popular social activity in the Spokane area for several years.
Paint Nite classes, which launched in Boston in 2012 and are now found in more than 1,700 cities in the United States and Canada, can be seen at tasting rooms, bars and art studios. Several local establishments offering step-by-step painting instruction plus alcohol have opened their doors since 2014, like Pinot’s Palette and Sip’n Paint Studio.
And while a glass of wine or frosty beer might get one’s creative juices flowing, others may be interested in artistic inspiration from another adults-only substance: cannabis.
The concept is already available in Denver, including “Puff, Pass and Paint,” a studio started by artist Heidi Keyes, who was already teaching community art classes, sans cannabis, when recreational use was illegal in Colorado. Once it became legal, friends suggested she offer “420-friendly” classes in the paint and sip style.
“I kind of laughed about it,” Keyes said in a phone interview. “It started as a little bit of a joke, but I put it on Facebook and invited some friends to my house to try it, and it was really popular.”
She opened Puff, Pass & Paint in January 2014, and joined her company with Mike Eymer’s Colorado Cannabis Tours later that year. They currently offer classes in eight locations around the country, including Portland, Ore., and several cities in California.
Seattle classes were previously offered, but the state’s restrictions have put classes on hold since 2016.
“There is no license type that supports businesses built around the consumption of marijuana,” said Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter in an email.
Keyes said she and others are continuing to search for a way to make this model legally work.
“We are still looking for an appropriate space and hope to have [Seattle] classes up and running again sometime soon, as there have been a lot of people asking about them,” she said. “But it’s something we would have to discuss with our lawyer before pursuing further as we always want to make sure we are following all local laws and regulations.”
With unique laws regulating cannabis in each state, Keyes is careful to remain in compliance when organizing their events.
“There are different laws for state, county, city, zoning area – even one street over can have a different regulation,” said Keyes. “We have our lawyer look over everything to make sure we’re following the law. We want to push cannabis laws forward, not backward.”
Because classes are private events, participants receive the location after registering and paying online. When they arrive, identification is always checked, as participants must be 21 and older (or 18 and older, with a medical card).
Art supplies are provided, but that doesn’t include cannabis; if you choose to consume in any form, you must bring your own.
Instructors are local artists who seek out Puff, Pass & Paint. They get to help design the class. They offer step-by-step instruction for a painting, but Keyes encourages attendees to follow their own creative instincts.
“We never want people to feel forced into painting something they don’t want to,” she said. “Adults don’t have many opportunities to be creative. Most people say they haven’t painted since they were kids.”
Cannabis can help stimulate creativity, and Keyes says that participants don’t worry what the end result will be, focusing on the enjoyment of the experience instead.
Most classes include 30 to 50 students, although some are smaller; Washington D.C. classes are limited to eight people “due to zoning restrictions,” per the Puff, Pass & Paint website. Their largest party was 102 people on New Year’s Eve, which was featured on a segment of CNN’s New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen.
They also host groups for private parties of up to 20 people for in-home events.
“We get a lot of birthday parties, and bachelor and bachelorette parties,” Keyes said.
Along with painting classes, the business has expanded into other activities: Pottery, Pastry (cooking with cannabis) and Pamper (cannabis-infused skin care products).
In the future, Keyes hopes to keep expanding her classes to more cities and states where cannabis is legal. Both Keyes and Eymer are longtime advocates for cannabis legalization, and believe that normalization is the key to legalization.
“There’s no stereotypical stoner anymore; it’s not just college kids. It’s professionals, people with families, retired people, people from all different backgrounds. And it really does bring people together, as evidenced by our classes.”
For more information, visit puffpassandpaint.com.