Weed in Wine Country

This weekend marks the final days of the Grass Roots, Cannabis from Prohibition to Prescription exhibit at the Museum of Sonoma County. Now, at Poppy & Vine, we understand cannabis is a touchy subject. But the reality is weed, pot, grass, herb, Mary Jane, whatever you choose to call it, has been apart of the Sonoma County culture since the 1800’s, with an even stronger and growing presence today.


So Poppy & Vine met with Co-Curator Brian Applegarth, co-owner of Recreational Embassy, founder and executive director of California Cannabis Tourism Association (CCTA) and several other cannabis ventures, to walk the exhibit and talk about the cloud in the room…


The Exhibit:


As the doors open to the museum and the cool air brushes against your face, you are hit with a distinct smell. That smell which reminds you, you’ve arrived in the Bay Area, the smell of cannabis.



After the aroma dissipates you are greeted by a bright red wall displaying the origins of the plant. Highlighting some of its original uses, mainly as a fiber crop (hemp), along with a map showing it’s path around the world. Then finally its arrival to Sonoma County, with some of the earliest accounts taking place at the Russian Outpost in Fort Ross.


Move to your left and read about cannabis’s early medicinal uses, that was until its inclusion in the Poison Act of 1913, making possession illegal. As you continue on you’ll see examples of propaganda posters, marginalizing various cultures based on racial stereotypes. Which continued to fuel the criminalization of Cannabis into the early 20th century.


Progress into the 60’s and learn about the hippie ‘counterculture’, it’s impact on cannabis use and how, “places like Sonoma County received thousands of seekers spilling out of the city, looking to go ‘back-to-the-land’ with a ‘grow your own’ ethos.” An ethos that is still alive and well today in the county.



Turn the corner of the exhibit and you are thrust into the 80’s, the heavy reality of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the role Sonoma County played in providing care to those fighting for their lives and the renewed fight for legalization. It was with those efforts from folks like Dennis Perron and Mary Jane Rathbun (aka Brownie Mary) that California State laws would begin to change in the decades to come.



Wrap up the tour with some of today’s cannabis culture, like posters from The Emerald Cup. Originally held in Mendocino County, it moved to Santa Rosa in 2013 and has been going strong ever since. Or stop at the Cannabis Confessional and leave your anonymous cannabis experience!


Why Now:


As Eric Stanley, co-curator of the exhibit said, “We‘ve been considering this exhibition for about eight years. Before and after the legalization of medicinal marijuana in 1996, Sonoma County has played a significant role with dispensaries, medical marijuana advocates, activists, and others in a rapidly evolving environment. Then with the passage of prop 64 and the legalization of recreational use, the pace of change has only accelerated. This exhibition was conceived to capture the story of what lies behind or beneath these rapid changes, which were decades in the making. No matter where you stand on cannabis, it’s important to know the evolution of this issue.”


Today’s Local Cannabis Industry:


Sonoma Country, sits just below the ‘Emerald Triangle’. Comprised of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity County the area is known for it’s high quality cannabis but not it’s location... Cue Sonoma County and our close proximity to the Greater Bay Area.



While the region also has its own cultivation and grow operations, it has become the hub for testing, manufacturing and distribution. You see this with companies like CannaCraft, NorCal Cannabis, PacEx and many others.


Additionally cannabis is starting to play a larger role in Sonoma County Tourism. While the market share between, beer, wine, spirits and cannabis is still being determined, it’s clear cannabis is moving in. With yearly events including the Emerald Cup, Hall of Flowers and the Weed and Wine Symposium. Not to mention the various tours and experiences now being offered.


In San Francisco? Book a tour with The Sonoma County Experience. Tours include a visit to a local dispensary, a manufacturing floor where oils and tinctures are made, along with a tasting at a local brewery or winery. Looking for an elevated dining experience, featuring cannabis inspired menus, crafted by some of the counties best Chef’s? Visit TSO Sonoma.


The point being, the green gold rush is here. Just look at the Economic Impact chart from December 2018 for some additional statistics. And more importantly, puff responsibly.


Cheers - Poppy & Vine

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© 2018 BY LINDSAY MUSCO. BRANDING BY BIANCA BROOS.