For the first time, California visitors and residents over the age of 21 can get a first-hand peek at the cannabis industry, the farmers and the products created from one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants. Cannabis tours in coastal and inland Mendocino County are available, with tour operators providing entertaining, educational and unforgettable experiences.
A Coastal Cannabis Experience
In 2003, Tracy Wolfson and her husband started their Mendocino coast business, Dirt Cheap Landscaping. “It was quite an introduction to cannabis farming,” Tracy smiles. Along with building soil, Tracy also built a successful wedding and event coordination company.
Following legalization, Tracy saw a unique opportunity. “I wanted to provide an insider’s look into cannabis farms.” She formed Mendocino Canna Tours and Events, merging her relationships with cannabis farmers with her expertise in event production. Tracy delights in sharing the cannabis community with “canna-curious” visitors.
Tracy’s Mendocino Coast tours highlight legal, small-craft farms embodying the principles of sustainable agriculture. “These are amazing farms. They just happen to be cannabis farms. Like vineyards, cannabis farms are beautiful. If you’ve never seen cannabis plants up close, it’s quite intriguing. They’re amazing.” Guest will have opportunities to converse with farmers about cultivation techniques, types of cannabis strains and the socio-political dynamics of cannabis farming in the heart of the Emerald Triangle.
“Farmers have amazing stories about who they are and how they got here. They’re the heart of the industry,” Tracy continues. “They educate our tour participants while hopefully dispelling negative elements previously associated with cannabis. These are stewards of the land with a decidedly unique lifestyle.”
Guests are picked up and dropped off from their accommodation. Tours are extremely customizable and always include stops at dispensaries. An “Art and Science” tour features a lecture on medical cannabis by Jude Thilman, owner of Fort Bragg’s Dragonfly Dispensary. Other tours include “Beer and Buds,” “Weed, Wine and Cheese” and “Dispensary 101.”
“We can build our tours around our local amenities, from yoga to beach picnics. We’re not restricted to a rigid schedule. Cannabis is just one of our county’s jewels that people must experience.” Tracy along with other local business owners have started an organization called Cannabis on the Coast. Their goal is to promote community events that highlight cannabis and education. The next event will be a harvest party this fall.
Mendocino Canna Tours and Events
From The Bay Area To ‘Cannabis Central’
Chris Vardijan, Chief Operating Officer of the Mendocino Experience Cannabis Tour lives and breathes tourism. “My business partner Misha Frankly and I have been in the tourism industry for years- from double-decker bus tours to touring Napa wine country. Our models are based on day-trip tours, departing from San Francisco, heading to Napa County and getting guests back to the city in time for dinner,” Chris explains.
And that’s exactly what the pair are doing in Mendocino, but instead of wine tours, attendees will learn about and enjoy cannabis.
“To avoid any pitfalls with legalization, we utilized our reputations as experienced guides to create fully-licensed, fully-insured cannabis tours,” Chris continues. “We wanted to give people a look into legal cannabis and in particular, the Mendocino cannabis industry. There are ‘bud crawl’ dispensary tours available, but we provide something more intimate.”
Ten-passenger buses depart from San Francisco’s Ferry Building at 8:30 am. During the drive north, participants receive a crash course on cannabis, including the plant’s 5,000-year history, a primer on legalization, types of strains and even the history of the “4/20” cannabis holiday. “It’s both entertaining and informative. Folks get a solid grounding in cannabis,” says Chris.
The tour’s first stop is Kure Wellness, the county’s only dispensary owned and operated by a true Mendocino County native. From there, the bus heads to downtown Ukiah for lunch and munchies at Schat’s Bakery, allowing time for a bit of local shopping.
Depending on the season, visitors head to the redwoods or tour a cannabis garden. “These farmers are so passionate about what they do. When there are plants in the ground, the tour heads to Emerald City’s outdoor, biodynamic garden,” says Chris. Visitors may also experience their indoor farm. “It’s like a spelunking adventure. Folks don Tyvek suits, grab a green flashlight and walk through a hermetically sealed entrance into a cavernous, indoor grow room. People can see, feel and smell one plant that’s ‘sacrificed’ for the tour,” Chris smiles.
At 4:20 pm, the tour stops at Emerald Pharms, a dispensary located on the historic Real Goods Trading Company property in Hopland. Though no cannabis may be consumed in the van, opportunities to consume cannabis will be available at several locations.
A cannabis-themed soundtrack perfect for napping or enjoying the view takes place during the drive back to San Francisco.
“Tour guiding is all about stories. This plant has so many stories that are brand-new for many people. We’re thrilled to make cannabis experiences safe, wholesome and accessible,” Chris concludes.
Mendocino Experience Cannabis Tours