Meet Brian Applegarth, Founder, and Executive Director of The California Cannabis Tourism Association
Most industries have professional associations, and this is especially true in tourism. Whether it’s wine tour companies, sightseeing tour companies, or any other kind of tour company, most likely they have an association. Tourism associations help quality companies give better service, and help them to meet the needs of tourists, while informing travelers where to find the best experiences. Travel and tourism associations also add legitimacy to the companies that belong to them. Cannabis tourism is still a budding industry, and after decades of vilification of marijuana, getting the word out there about quality pot tour companies is paramount. Yes, California is known for having the best weed in the world, but our state is also known for the film industry, wine country, the giant redwoods, Silicon Valley, and great cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. With all the tourist attractions California has to offer, weed tourism has a lot to do to stand out.
Enter Brian Applegarth.
How long have you been involved with cannabis?
Born and raised in northern California, cannabis has been around since junior high. I jumped into the cannabis tourism industry as a profession and career five or six years ago.
What do you love most about cannabis?
How evolved it is. Cannabis is one of the earth’s most powerful renewable resources and a tool to continually promote well-being and increase quality of life, health and happiness. From hemp to cannabis, and its capabilities are extra-ordinary.
What made you get into cannabis tourism?
My love of travel and culture initially, then cannabis itself. The legacy culture of the northern California cannabis communities has a similar vibe to that of expat international communities I spent time in as a younger man.
What is the CCTA?
The CCTA is the California Cannabis Tourism Association. The CCTA is the united voice of cannabis tourism in California. We serve to promote the development of safe and responsible cannabis tourism industries, and advocate for an enabling regulatory environment.
How is the CCTA like other tourism associations, and how is it different?
We are hyper-focused on cannabis-related tourism, and that emerging niche.
Who, in your experience, is your basic cannabis tourist? Is there any commonality, or are they all different?
Hmm, good question. If there was one common thread across the MANY different cannabis-inspired travelers, it would be an open mind. Open to learning something new or understanding more.
How have the plans of the CCTA changed since the lockdown?
We opened up a no-cost ‘free membership’ tier for those that were negatively impacted by Covid19. We are also using this as a tool through year end to allow access to anyone interested in learning more about cannabis tourism. You can sign up for the free member tier at www.cannabistourismca.org
Where do you see California cannabis tourism in 5 years?
I see cannabis tourism being more sophisticated in five years. Retailers and lounges being more available. A more mature model that weaves in culture and history, and a consumer facing models that better supports the California visitor experience.
What do you have to say to people that think cannabis is scary?
In the history of the earth, cannabis has been illegal for less than 100 years. Zooming out and considering that, we must admit that we are the exception, that we live in a unique moment time, an outlier. When you read articles, consume content, or even hear the word hemp or cannabis, remember that fact.
Do you have anything else to add?
Enjoy life, Carpe diem.