June 16 - September 15, 2019

Curated by Eric Stanley and Brian Applegarth

Though it has been part of human history for thousands of years, cannabis has recently become part of our society in new ways. For over a century, cannabis was prohibited and kept in the shadows, but that changed to a large degree in 1996 with a groundbreaking California law that made the use of medicinal cannabis legal. The move from prohibition to prescription did not happen overnight. It was the culmination of decades of grassroots activism that began in the 1960s when cannabis first emerged as a defining element in the culture war. With its legacies of agriculture and back-to-the land, as well as its position between the Emerald Triangle and San Francisco, Sonoma County has played a significant role in the story of cannabis and its emergence as legal medicine and, more recently, as a multi-billion dollar industry.

“We’re not advocating a side or taking a position in this exhibition, but trying to tell a story that is worth telling and that is relevant now. What we are saying is that this is an important issue, one that we need to understand and discuss.” - Eric Stanley, Associate Director and Co-Curator of Grass Roots

Explore the long history of cannabis in Grass Roots: Cannabis from Prohibition to Prescription and find out how deep its roots grow.


This exhibition is intended to create a space for visitors to engage in conversations and better understand a topic that is relevant to our region's history and our community. MSC does not promote any particular viewpoint related to the legality of cannabis use. Read the Q&A with the co-curators


Discussion Guide

Not sure how to start the conversation? Explore the Discussion Guide.


Resources for discussing cannabis with youth:

Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs (Drug Policy Alliance, available in multiple languages)

Marijuana Talk Kit for Parents (Partnership for Drug-Free Kids)

Let's Talk Cannabis (California Department of Public Health)




What People are Saying About Grass Roots


Co-Curator Brian Applegarth on Grass Roots

(Click for videos)




Museum of Sonoma County Explores Long History of Cannabis in Grass Roots: Cannabis from Prohibition to Prescription, (Cannabis Magazine, 8/7/2019)

Sonoma County exhibit showcases evolution of cannabis, (Press Democrat, 6/28/2019)

Deep Roots, (Bohemian, 6/20/2019)

Cannabis Country: Discover ‘Grass Roots’ at the museum, (Sonoma West, 6/5/2019)

Canna Help You - Cannabis Exhibit at Museum of Sonoma County and Legion of Bloom(KSRO, 5/24/2019)