Traveling The Cannabis Trail #4 – The Hemp Connection

For our next stop along The Cannabis Trail we visit the town of Garberville in southern Humboldt to learn more about The Hemp Connection history and pioneers of sustainability Marie and Teresa Mills.

Cultural Cannabis Landmark – The Hemp Connection and Hemp Sustainability Pioneers Marie and Teresa Mills

By Brian Applegarth   @thecannabistrail

Destination: Southern Humboldt Visitors Center and The Hemp Connection SIgn – Garberville, CA

Honors: The Values of Earth Stewardship, Sustainability, and Regeneration

Storytelling: The Hemp Connection History featuring Marie and Teresa Mills

Marie Mills’ life represents a story of bravery, vision, sustainability, and earth stewardship.  Marie Mills first came to Southern Humboldt County in 1980. Influenced by the Back-to-the-Land movement of the late-1970’s she camped out deep in the woods, embraced a lifestyle of self-reliance and learned to cultivate cannabis by simply doing it.  Her passion for earth stewardship and hemp sustainability inspired her pioneering work.

Hemp Connection

In 1990, Marie established the very first hemp retail store in the United States since 1937 Prohibition – The Hemp Connection, located in Redway, California. Her first ten years in business were dedicated to learning how to craft handmade hemp paper from her homegrown cannabis stalks. 

She continued to educate herself by trial and error, and enjoyed sharing her knowledge of designing, dying, sewing, and perfecting her line of hemp clothing products that she created.  In 1998, with the help and support of her daughter Teresa, Marie expanded her retail operations to nearby Garberville.  

Shortly after opening a second hemp shop – The Hemp Connection – in the town of Garberville, a group of local citizens took issue with the fact that The Hemp Connection signage prominently displayed a large cannabis leaf image. Their efforts to have her sign removed or modified motivated the Southern Humboldt cannabis community to come to Marie’s defense. It was a cultural moment for southern Humboldt. 

With the support of a small group of local community activists Marie and Teresa fought back and their right to free speech and freedom of expression were eventually upheld. Today the Hemp Connection’s cannabis leaf sign stands tall and proud in downtown Garberville and has become one the most photographed images in Humboldt County.

Hemp Connection

Cultural Landmark Statement of Purpose 

May this Cannabis Trail Cultural Landmark serve to honor 

the cannabis history and regenerative minded culture of Southern Humboldt. 

May it serve to honor Marie and Teresa Mill’s life work 

educating about hemp sustainability, 

A story represents bravery, vision, and earth stewardship. 

May this Cultural Landmark serve to educate about sustainable hemp and regenerative practices 

And honor the bravery needed to bring about positive change.

May it be so. 

Northern California is where the battle for legalized cannabis was waged. The Cannabis Trail honors the pioneers, places, and significant historical moments that paved the way for the legal cannabis access we have today.  The Cannabis Trail is an immersive travel adventure for cannabis enthusiasts,  history buffs, and culture seekers seeking an extraordinary California experience. –

BRIAN APPLEGARTH is a travel writer and innovator with a passion for cannabis travel experiences and cultural heritage preservation.

He has written for San Francisco TravelVisit OaklandLocal GetawaysSkunk MagazineGreen State, Pineapple Express, Visit Greater Palm Springs, Visit Mendocino County and others. Brian was the sole advisor on the first ever national research on the cannabis-motivated travel audience in the United States.

He has been quoted in Forbes, The Washington Post, Smart Meetings, Travel Weekly and elsewhere, and his award-winning work has been featured on NPR, CBS, NBC, and The New York Times.

Brian is the founder of the Cannabis Travel Association International and the co-founder and co-creator of the CA State Fair Cannabis Awards & Exhibit. He leads the Cannabis & Hemp Task Force for the California Travel Association and Destinations International and is a certified cannabis sommelier Ganjier and a certified cannabis therapy consultant.

He recently published The Ganja Traveler’s Guide to the Emerald Triangle, a first-of-its-kind travel guide to California’s legacy craft cannabis region. Follow Brian on Instagram @thecannabistrail and @theganjatraveler or learn more at

Keep updated on all the latest news and updates in the Cannabis industry here at Beard Bros Pharms by signing up for our Friday Sesh Newsletter here. Always Dank and Never Spam!

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