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Exploring Cannabis Culture: Northern California Launches First-Ever


Trail moving through forest overhead shot
Photo: Peter van Haastrecht / Shutterstock

EMERALD TRIANGLE, Calif. – Northern California has introduced The Cannabis Trail, a pioneering travel experience designed to showcase the history and ongoing cultural impact of cannabis in the state. A collaborative effort among Oakland, Mendocino, and Humboldt counties, the initiative invites adults to explore a curated route from Santa Cruz to the Emerald Triangle, mirroring the concept of Napa County’s celebrated Wine Road.

The trail’s launch comes at a time when interest in cannabis-related travel is expanding rapidly, with MMGY Travel Intelligence identifying approximately 72 million Americans as potential cannabis-motivated travelers. Forbes estimated cannabis tourism to be a $17 billion industry in 2022, and a 2023 Gallup poll in 2023 found 50 percent of U.S. residents have consumed the plant.

The trail features cultural and historical landmarks significant to California’s cannabis legalization movement. Oakland, known for issuing the world’s first equity cannabis license, serves as a key stop, offering insights into decades of medical provision. The trail also includes Mendocino and Humboldt counties within the Emerald Triangle, an area celebrated for its cultivation conditions and historical significance from the 1960s and ’70s back-to-the-land movement.

“This is an extremely important time in the cannabis travel and tourism industry as the visitor experience continues to evolve with legalization,” said Peter Gamez, president and chief executive officer at Visit Oakland. “Working in partnership with Humboldt and Mendocino counties, we have created unique, enjoyable opportunities for visitors while increasing overall value for cannabis travelers.”

Ramon Jimenez, executive director at Visit Mendocino County, and Julie Benbow, executive director of the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau, also expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity to showcase their regions’ rich cannabis heritage alongside other local attractions such as redwoods and wineries.

Visitors will experience immersive cultural storytelling highlighting legacy cannabis craft, tales from the war on drugs, and human rights stories including patient access, social equity, and inclusion. They also will meet legacy craft cannabis farmers and tour the farms upon which the craftspeople live and work.

“We are excited to finally be able to welcome visitors to our legendary cannabis farms and introduce them to our skilled farmers and other artisan makers,” said Benbow. “This is really the beginning of a new era for tourism and travel. Northern California has an extraordinary experience to offer visitors.”

Established in 2015 by Brian Applegarth, The Cannabis Trail includes twenty-five points of interest and will be featured during The Emerald Cup’s twentieth-anniversary festivities August 17–18 in Oakland, California.

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