The Cannabis Trail: A Column Celebrating the Cannabis Legacy of Northern California

Cannabis trail

Where I grew up, pot was as common as drinking beer. It was and still is embedded in the culture. I am fourth generation northern Californian, and smoked my first joint when I was 13 years old. By the time I turned eighteen, I was traveling the world and studying abroad whenever possible. After earning my BA in International Studies at UC Irvine in 2002, I wandered. I became addicted to cultural discovery, it became a lifestyle.

I have spent much of life abroad, exploring the furthest corners of the globe, seeking out the most immersive and unique experiences. On my journey, cannabis naturally folded into some of my fondest of memories. It continues to do so. I moved home to northern California in 2013. Through a series of trips up to the north Coast, I fell in love with west Sonoma county and Mendocino. The culture, the bohemian-leaning lifestyle, the close connection to nature, the small tight-knit communities, the fluidity of time, the lack of cell phone reception, the redwoods and rivers, and of course the cannabis. It was also at this time, that I began dreaming of the evolution of cannabis travel and tourism.

On my path, I met Pebbles Trippet, a legendary activist and cannabis pioneer. She introduced me to Dennis Peron, The Father of Medical Marijuana and author of Prop 215: The Compassionate Use Act. In my time with both Pebbles and Dennis, may he rest in peace, I have grown fond of the extraordinary cannabis history and rich cannabis culture of northern California. It is a story steeped in activism and compassion. It a story of marginalized groups, life under prohibition, and human rights. It is a story that includes power struggles, raids, communal living, and strategic court battles. It is a beautiful and important story, that deserves to be preserved, enshrined, remembered, and celebrated.

The Cannabis Trail column is dedicated to sharing the cannabis legacy of northern California. From Santa Cruz, to San Francisco, to San Rafael, to Willits, to Weaverville, we will virtually travel The Cannabis Heritage Trail, remembering and celebrating the important events, stories, and cannabis pioneers that fought for cannabis legalization we enjoy today.

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Brian Applegarth is an award winning cannabis documentarian, avid creator of forward-thinking cannabis IP, and trusted leader in the cannabis tourism, travel, and hospitality sector. Education and preservation of cannabis history and culture is at the core of his work. Founder and president of the California Cannabis Tourism Association, proprietor of Emerald Country Tours, and innovator of The Cannabis Heritage Trail non-profit; his mission is to demystify and normalize the cannabis conversation. Brian is an often requested speaker/presenter/moderator at industry events and conferences, both cannabis and the greater travel industry at large. Credits and features include: CBS, NBC, North Bay Business Journal, Mill Valley Film Festival, New York Cannabis Film Festival, LGBTQ Film Festival Palm Springs, London Cannabis Film Festival, and more. A dedicated student and avid innovator, passionate about shaping and guiding the evolution of cannabis, Brian collaborates on projects that are inspiring, smart, well-organized, fun, and set up for success.