At the opposite end of the state, Humboldt County has long been a haven for people looking to get off the grid. Back in the ’60s, the county’s alluring redwoods inspired San Francisco’s hippie counterculture to quit the rat race and move to the woods in a movement called “Back to the Land.” Once they got there and realized that the surest bet for employment was a body-sacrificing logging job, many decided to bring business and pleasure together, becoming marijuana farmers instead.
After decades of operating under stigma and the threat of prosecution, cannabis cultivation and sale is now legal in California. Today, rather than casting a mysterious shroud over an illicit industry, Humboldt County and its pot farmers can now welcome tourists to their farms much like winemakers do.
One of the first such farmers to receive a county tourism license was Johnny Casali and his partner, Rose Mobely. The duo runs Huckleberry Hill Farms, which is just outside of Garberville in the southern part of the county, where most marijuana farms are located. Casali, who learned how to grow from his “Back to the Land” mom, spent eight years in federal prison in the late ’90s when he was busted for growing. Once he was released, he and Mobely started the legal grow they operate today. They’ll welcome their first guests to tour the farm this summer.
They are just a couple of the many farmers who banded together to offer a first-of-its-kind tourism experience for weed. Humboldt Cannabis Tours offers group and private tours, which include visits to farms and to local dispensaries for guests to shop cannabis products (sale and consumption are not currently permitted on grow sites). The company also arranges overnight stays at local bed-and-breakfasts.
For those looking to toke up in style, stay at the Humboldt Bay Social Club, which opened in May. The waterfront property is 420-friendly with sleek amenities, including top-of-the-line linens and toiletries, farm-to-table dining, and design-forward suites and cabins. Down the road in Eureka is Papa & Barkley Social, the hotel’s partner dispensary and consumption lounge. Both of these properties are not only firsts for the region, but in many ways are also firsts for the country, unveiling a peek at the future of cannabis tourism.