As The Hemp Connection Closes, Its Cannabis Trail Cultural Landmark Plaque Is Rehomed
On Friday, April 29th, the plaque found its new home less than a block away from the Hemp Connection at the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center in Garberville.
The Cannabis Trail winds from Santa Cruz up through Humboldt and ends at Weaverville in Trinity County. The trail currently has ten cultural landmarks and one monument along the trail, with at least ten additional landmarks and 3-5 monuments to be placed in the next year to complete the trail.
Marie and Teresa Mills were the first ever recipients of a Cultural Landmark plaque, recognizing the Mills’ pioneering work with the first hemp retail store in the United States since prohibition. Founded in 1980, Marie Mills opened the Hemp Connection in Redway. The first years of business were spent learning the art of making hemp paper from Marie’s homegrown cannabis stalks and honing her hemp clothing line.In 1998, Teresa joined her mom in the opening of the Hemp Connection, two miles away in Garberville. The store found its home in the building formerly known as ‘Connie’s Corner’. Even though medical marijuana was legalized two years prior, the Mills’ and their large iconic cannabis leaf sign raised a ruckus in Garberville. The Southern Humboldt cannabis community rallied for Marie’s
The Cannabis Trail Founder, Brian Applegarth, honored Marie’s pioneering spirit and historic hemp retail business with the first Cannabis Trail Cultural Landmark plaque awarded back in 2021. When Marie knew she was closing the doors to the Hemp Connection she contacted Applegarth to get his advice on where to place the plaque.
Ultimately, the pair agreed that the visitor center was the appropriate next home for the plaque where it could reside and still honor Marie and the Hemp Connection’s place in cannabis history.
At the unveiling ceremony on Friday, Applegarth once again honored the Hemp Connection historic importance and the Mills’ stating, “Marie’s life represents a story of self-reliance, bravery, vision and earth stewardship. May this Cultural Landmark serve to educate others about hemp sustainability, self-reliance and the bravery needed to bring about positive change.”
There is currently one other Cultural Landmark plaque in Southern Humboldt, located at Huckleberry Hill Farms, a legal commercial cannabis farm owned by local Johnny Casali who spent 17 years in and out of the legal system during the War on Drugs.
Applegarth said that the Cannabis Trail non-profit group plans on placing four additional Cultural Landmark plaques in Humboldt County honoring the pioneers of the cannabis movement in Humboldt County. With a total of six plaques, Humboldt County will host the most Cultural Landmark plaques of any county along The Cannabis Trail.
Applegarth’s hope is to encourage tourism and to tell the story of cannabis history in California. The Cannabis Trail’s website states, “As you travel The Cannabis Trail, you will visit historical and cultural sites and take in powerful artistic monuments that effectively storytell about the people, places and benchmark moments of the California cannabis movement.”
In addition to the Cultural Landmarks and Monuments, Applegarth told us the organization is working on a “cannabis holiday” slated for November 5th. “It’s supposed to be the yin to the yang of 420. It’s all about a day of remembrance for the compassionate roots of cannabis. …We’re going to ask all of our containers …to hold a ceremony, like a remembrance of the stories.”
Applegarth said that the events at the sites along The Cannabis Trail would focus on retelling the history of the cannabis movement. “When you look at the cannabis trail landmarks and monuments together, it’s everything from sustainability, self-reliance and bravery, community to [the] War on Drugs impact on communities – …a quilt of the values of the cannabis movement and all the different communities,” he envisioned.
Those who want to view The Cultural Trail Cultural Landmark plaque can stop by the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center in Garberville at 782 Redwood Drive, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.Marie and Teresa were given an honorary plaque to keep after the rehoming ceremony of the original Cultural Landmark plaque that had resided at the Hemp Connection. The Mills, however, do not plan on retiring simply because they no longer have a brick-and-mortar store front. Hemp Connection wares will be available at various craft fairs and farmers markets as Marie states that her calendar is quite full. The pairs’ next event will be at the Westside Live Market Whitethorn on May 28th.