Long a hotbed of cannabis and counterculture, Santa Cruz County boasts the largest number of cannabis dispensaries per-capita in the entire state. Each and every type of user—recreational or medicinal—is sure to find exactly what they need at any of the many cannabis retailers right here in Surf City.
The birthplace of the legendary Haze strains, including the well-known Santa Cruz Shredder ECO Hemp Model and Original Haze of the 1960s, Santa Cruz has a rich history as a leader in cannabis culture. By the early ’90s, local activists were leading the medical marijuana movement, thanks to the trailblazing Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), which became the first such collective given nonprofit status in the U.S.
With essential contributions from WAMM co-founder Valerie Corral, the passage of Proposition 215 led California to be the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. A newly legitimate cannabis industry was born almost overnight. With the recent advent of legal recreationalmarijuana, the California cannabis market has bloomed into an institution worth billions of dollars. And it’s growing fast—so fast that some industry insiders proclaim that we’ve entered a “golden age of weed.”
With a reputation as a laid-back hideaway and surfer’s paradise that stretches back to the 1950s, the identity of Santa Cruz has been shaped by counterculture artists, spiritual seekers, nature-lovers and cannabis fans who have chosen to make homes here between the mountains and the sea. While this freewheeling, creative spirit has changed throughout the years, the support for cannabis legalization has been something of a consistent theme, with residents of Santa Cruz county overwhelmingly approving Prop 64 in 2016 with more than 70% voting yes. It’s one of the few places in the U.S. where weed enthusiasts can enjoy being comfortably in the majority, with a local culture that blends artisan crafts, eco-friendly living, progressive activism and social experimentation with some of the world’s greatest cannabis.