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Riding the Cannabis Trail

The Cannabis Trail draws travelers, history buffs and more on a lazy river-style journey.

For anyone visiting California or if you’re a Golden State stoner looking for a cool adventure, may we suggest taking a trip up the Cannabis Trail. Winding through places like San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Garberville, taking people on a journey through the important events, stories and faces that fought for your right to legally buy a joint. The trail traverses nine northern California counties, stopping at twenty different points of interest to tell the tale of a journey from secret pro-pot enclaves to adult-use Cannabis. Founder Brian Applegarth describes the project as, “a curated trail of Cannabis farms, shops, lounges, and cultural experiences that together are a celebration of today while honoring what it took to get here.” It’s a story of human rights, patient rights, and a counterculture’s difficult and costly battle for legal weed. 

In a 2019 article, Applegarth wrote about how he wanted to establish the trail after getting the chance to meet and hang out with legendary activists Pebbles Trippet and Dennis Peron. Through this connection, he developed a unique appreciation for the rich, storied history Cannabis has had on the West Coast. He believes it to be a “story that deserves to be preserved, enshrined, remembered, and celebrated.” Applegarth and founding board member Zack Darling both bring extensive experience to the table. Brian is a Cannabis historian who sits on the board of the 420 Archive and is a member of the Sonoma County Tourism Marketing Committee. A self-proclaimed “locally grown” resident of the Emerald Triangle, Zack was raised on a pot farm in Mendocino and has a unique understanding of the history, stories and legacies contained in this area.  

Like the Marin Cheese Trail or the Napa Wine Road, The Cannabis Trail offers a lazy river-style adventure that caters to everyone from tourists, travelers, and history buffs alike. Their monument initiative is working to create ten permanent art installations at points in the trail to commemorate what they call “benchmark moments in the Cannabis legalization movement.” Applegarth told Leaf that eight of these have already been given interactive signs that invite visitors to take a deep dive via animated audio podcasts and short films made through their story initiative. This year they also launched a storyteller project to help project the narrative of farms and brands that highlight Indigenous cultivation and/or regenerative methods.

For anyone thinking about taking the Cannabis trail, Applegarth recommends you, “keep plans flexible and lose track of time. Get lost in the moment and settle into the full experience of each place. The Trail is a quilt of human stories…and culture is a key ingredient to the best kind of travel.”

thecannabistrail.com | @thecannabistrail

This article was originally published in the May 2024 issue of All Magazines.

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