In San Francisco’s ‘Puff Pass Paint’ class, people make art while getting high on marijuana — take a look inside

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

More Americans favor legal marijuana than ever before.

As the $6.9 billion industry steps into the light, a new subculture around pot is taking shape. It shrugs off the stoner stereotypes of the past and brings like-minded people together to enjoy the plant in legal, communal settings. In San Francisco, private events centered on cannabis are gaining popularity, including gourmet “wake and bake” brunches and ganja-fueled yoga.

The latest trendy event series in San Francisco has people getting high on marijuana during painting workshops, much like the paint and wine classes taking America by storm.

We attended a Puff, Pass & Paint class to see what it was like.


Puff, Pass & Paint classes got their start in Denver, Colorado, in 2014, shortly after the state legalized recreational marijuana. Founder Heidi Keyes was working as an artist at the time.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

“A friend jokingly suggested that I should ‘start a wine and painting class — but with weed,'” Keyes says. She’s been a cannabis user for over half of her life.

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Heidi Keyes.
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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

She decided to give it a go, and the class in Denver exploded in popularity. Today, you can find Puff, Pass & Paint classes in six states where recreational marijuana is legal.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Find a Puff, Pass & Paint class near you »


Participants sometimes travel from outside the state to partake. Keyes even gets people who are smoking with others for the first time.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

A two-hour class costs $49, which includes painting supplies. While the event is “BYOC” — bring your own cannabis — each event has a sponsor that gives away products to try.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

When I arrived at a top-secret warehouse location in San Francisco, I was greeted by a vendor from Alchemy, a company that makes marijuana vape pens. Their devices use cartridges filled with potent marijuana oil and botanicals for soothing aromas.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Each table in the workshop area had a cup with different flavored vape pens inside.


Slim’s Baked Goodies handed out weed-laced treats. This red velvet cupcake contained 10 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. I ate mine right away.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I struck up a conversation with my neighbor. Dominic Ripoli works as a marijuana policy consultant and considers himself “the Lord Varys of cannabis.” (A “Game of Thrones” reference). He helps clients in the industry write applications for business licenses.

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Dominic hit a dab, which is when you take a marijuana concentrate, apply it to a hot surface to create smoke, and inhale to get high. He even brought his own blow torch to light the dab rig.


Participants sign an agreement saying they will consume no more than an ounce of marijuana — roughly a sandwich bag full — and will not sell the drug to other students.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

This workshop would teach us how to paint Mexican sugar skulls, though Keyes encouraged us to go rogue if we felt inspired by cannabis. “You can do you own thing,” she said.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

In the beginning, most people followed the instructions stroke by stroke.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I puffed on an Alchemy vape pen that was intended to inspire creativity. The oil contained a blend of orange, vanilla, and cardamom, and it tasted like a cup of chai tea.

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Bobbing my head to the hip-hop pounding through the speakers, I decided not to fill in my skull with just one color, but a blend of colors that would make it look like a galaxy.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

I’ve done a wine and paint class once before, and I found myself growing frustrated throughout the workshop because I didn’t like how my illustration was coming along.

However, in Puff, Pass & Paint, I hit the vape pen and tapped into a different state of mind. I let go of my insecurities. The painting didn’t need to be perfect as long as I was having fun.

Keyes’ words echoed through my head: “If you make a mistake, just paint over it.”


I took a lap around the room to see how the other paintings were coming along. While a majority of students made Mexican sugar skulls, no two skulls were exactly alike.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Everyone seemed focused on their work, which was probably helped by the marijuana. I saw communal blunts being passed around the tables, to keep the good times rolling.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Then a serious case of the munchies hit. I sniffed out a bag of Cheetos at a nearby table and made myself a plate. The crunch, the cheese, the dusting on my fingers — it was heaven.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The best part of class was circling the room to see how people’s creativity manifested. Dominic told me the only time he paints is when he’s high, because it relaxes him.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

His girlfriend, Bella, turned her skull into an ethereal nature goddess. She doesn’t usually paint when she’s high. “It makes me a little [artistically] lazy,” she said.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Everyone ogled Jabari’s masterpiece. He thought the skulls were rather grim, so he took it in a different direction. “The more I started smoking, the happier I got,” he said.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

While my work won’t be in a gallery anytime soon, I left pretty pleased with myself. I chose to live in the moment, rather than obsess over the quality of my painting. I ordered an Uber car and smiled to myself the whole way home.

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Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Learn more about Puff, Pass & Paint »