Mendocino Canna-Tourism

July 2019

2018 was a time of breakthroughs and change for the California Cannabis industry. With the start of legalization for adult recreational use, dispensaries throughout California opened their doors to anyone over 21 in the early days of January. There was a lot of change and many cannabis farms and companies trying to figure out opportunities and risks in this new legalized landscape. In July, the industry went through another official shift, with new testing and labelling requirements for cannabis products.

Most exciting to the traveler, however, were the beginnings of real tourism opportunities that came along with legalization. The Emerald Triangle of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties in California began to open up, and a few operations which had been largely hidden pre-legalization began to welcome visitors.

Mendocino County in particular, just north of the Sonoma wine region already popular with tourists, has been starting to figure out how to promote itself and canna-tourism at the same time. Now that it is no longer illegal, promoting the sun grown outdoor marijuana that Mendocino is famous for is something many town governments and associations are thinking about for the first time.

Here are some of the highlights that emerged in 2018, we expect lots more to come!

Unique Dispensaries

The gateway to central Mendocino on Highway 101, Hopland has long offered the Solar Living Center, a few good restaurants and wine tasting rooms to visitors. Now you can stop at Emerald Pharms, California’s only solar-powered cannabis store, where you can enjoy your purchase on a deck surrounded by redwoods.

Also in Hopland, the Natural Cannabis Company features “High Art”, an art competition with prizes and some of the art being used in the dispensary’s packaging, plus a yearly “Best of the Harvest” box release featuring 28 top rated sun-grown small farm marijuana strains.

Larger cities in Mendocino such as Fort Bragg and Ukaiah each have 3+ marijuana dispensaries, many featuring outdoor smoking areas, yoga, and other medicinal herbs and resources besides cannabis.

Established Mendocino Cannabis Brands

In dispensaries in Mendocino and throughout northern California, a number of brands are beginning to establish themselves, to set standards for quality and consistency in cannabis flowers, and allow consumers greater access to the produce of small craft farmers.

California has long been known for some of the best agricultural products in the world, including vineyards, almonds, artichokes and more — and now some of the finest Mendocino Cannabis is available through premium brands distributing the finest in “pot produce.”

Many small family farms are now distributing their buds through brands such as Flow Kana, Henry’s Original, Madrone, and Mendocino Generations. This makes it easier to try different sun grown Mendocino marijuana, including heritage strains from small, sustainable growers, some going back a generation or two pre-legalization. As the consumer you get wider distribution from these brands, better packaging, and a guarantee of consistent quality. Ask for them by name at your local dispensary.

Canna Tours

In the future, regulations allowing, we may see more growers opening their farms to the public, or brands like Flow Kana having their facilities open for tours, similar to the wineries and vineyards of Mendocino, Sonoma and Napa counties. Already there are a number of tour operators who will take you to small outdoor cannabis farms they have a relationship with, for visits to some of the facilities where concentrates and edibles are made, and of course to stops for shopping at multiple dispensaries.

Emerald Country Tours, Emerald Farm Tours, and Mendocino Canna Tours are some of the tour companies where individual operators share their expertise, and a fun, behind-the-scenes look at the Mendocino Cannabis industry. We’ll have more coverage of tours and industry places to visit coming up.

Events

Finally, there are a number of summer and fall events in Mendocino or in neighboring counties, which you may wish to plan your visit around, especially if you are traveling from outside of Northern California.

Cannabis specific events like the Emerald Cup or Hall of Flowers happen in the Sonoma county fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Outdoor music festivals are held in the summertime, like Enchanted Forest Gathering in June, Mendocino Music Festival and Northern Nights in July, or Reggae on the River in August.

Finally there are a number of events around the the harvest for sun grown Mendocino cannabis, which happens in November (indoor and greenhouse grown marijuana can be harvested multiple times a year, but outdoor typically just once in the fall). Similar events celebrate the mushroom harvest, wine, and beginning of Dungeness Crab season in Mendocino. Both culinary, weed and wine events can enhance your visit if the timing works out.