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“You can hang a grow light in a SoCali basement as easily as in a Humboldt grow house, but you can’t replicate a redwood forest terroir in a concrete jungle.” HighlikeMe

The excerpt above comes from an excellent post by the new Humboldt blogger Highlikeme.  In it s/he makes the argument that if Humboldt wants to continue as the weed capital of the western world, it needs to differentiate itself from weed elsewhere.  S/he’s right. We need to emulate Napa and the wine industry by making our area THE area for the toking tourist.

With the tsunami of legalization looming over our heads —it might well come in the next two years either through a ballot initiative this fall or through the state legislature—the whole North Coast  is only going to thrive  if it becomes the tourist destination of choice for the cannabis consumer.  What are some ways we can market ourselves now?

Below the fold, are my top six ways to promote The North Coast’s Marijuana Culture and bring in tourists—


1) More Festivals--Reggae on the River (and Reggae Rising) already draw in thousands and the audience wants more than the music, they want the weed.  The Emerald Cup in December has the potential to become a huge draw for ganja guys and gals. The Emerald Cup, in a strange turn of events, is a marijuana competition  inspired by the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup which was originally based on the “spectacular California harvest festivals of the ‘70s.”

There are already some fine music festivals in the area as well as some good local arts’ events and some that are hard to define—Mushroom Fair, the Hemp Festival, and Godwit days.   The more there are, and the more they are tied to the local marijuana, the better for the local economy.

2)More Places to visit —We do have some wonderful head shops (find your favorite at headshopfinder.com )and glass blowers in the area.  A clothing shop, The Hemp Connection, in Garberville, provides an excellent model for servicing both local residents and tourists ( I recommend reading this review as an example of how meeting the needs of toking tourists can translate into bringing more people into the area.)  However, we need something like a Marijuana museum which focuses on the local history aspect.

Another possible piece of infrastructure that would bring in medical marijuana tourists is if the  Garberville Hospital is converted to a dispensary/hospital—the first in the nation.

An exciting idea would be to have some small 215 grows available for people to visit.  The more places there are, the more likely people are to go out of their way to visit us.  A friend suggests these small farms could be called marijuanaries after the specialty wineries that make up much of Napa and the surrounding areas.

3)More Ads and subtle product placement see Miranda Gardens Resort Blog for an example of how subtle this can be.  In answer to a question about what is fun to do in the area, the responder manages to work in the “marijuana culture.” Of course, a far less subtle example is the movie, Humboldt County, which is one long product placement. Again, the more there are, the better it is for our economy—now and in the future.

4)Connect Napa to Humboldt--Encourage Tourists who are already visiting to Wine country to swing up north to see the marijuana world.  Tours of the Cannabis culture could be combined with tours of wine country both by bus and by bike.  As a bonus, our local breweries and wineries could benefit.

5) A Website —We need one that will promote where to find goods and services that the marijuana industry in the area can provide—take a look at this post on Marijuana.com. As good as some of our local tourist information is, we need one that shines a spotlight on the culture that provides the major stimulus to the local economies. Perhaps something called Smokin’ Places to Visit for the Marijuana Tourist. Or Eat, Drink, Toke: Humboldt County.

6) Focus on growing Unique Weed — see Highlikeme’s post for how many of us are doing it wrong now and how we should do it better.  We need to focus on producing high quality weed that has the unique flavors of the California fog and sunshine woven into its fiber—what we don’t need is more generic buds that can be produced anywhere.  That might mean that indoor growers should begin to work on developing unique outdoor strains at the same time they are still producing the indoor that they are making the most money on now.  (Mind you, I still think growing outdoor is best for the environment and can be nearly as profitable but if other people feel differently, those who can possibly get a small plot should still consider developing killer outdoor strains now to prepare for legalization.  This will be best for their financial future and for the future of the county.)

The more we layer the marijuana experience and conflate it with Humboldt and the North Coast, the more the toking tourist will flock to us to get a real taste of the marijuana world.