Late last spring, my husband walked into my home office and said he wanted to go camping for three nights in Maine. I had spent years trying to talk him into pitching a tent in a forest, on a beach, by a lake, or near a mountain, but the cityborn-and-bred, 6’3” man always was a firm, “No.” So his invitation was a surprising turn.
“But this isn’t really camping camping,” he said. “The tent is already set up, and there’s a Queensized bed with sheets and pillows. We cook outside, and there’s a bathhouse with toilets, sinks, and showers. It’s deep in the woods, by the Crooked River. There are swimming, kayaking, canoes, and hiking trails. And Maine is soooo gorgeous.
“Oh, and one more thing,” he added. “It’s the only state-licensed, cannabis-friendly campground in the country, and they have a 4:20 happy hour daily.” I was all in.
And so it was six weeks later that we found ourselves rambling down a rocky pathway to a spot called Dark Star, where we would hunker down in a tent in Harrison, Maine, listening to the rainfall (romantic) and hearing owls hoo-hoo-ing in nearby trees (nature). A breeze moved through the tent, and we were tired from floating in the river and tasting new local strains at the campground happy hour.
There is something magical and serene about spending time outdoors, off the grid, but even more so when there is the freedom to inhale. Whenever you want. Without judgment. Without fear. With a like-minded community. And there’s nothing more poetic than a symphony of coughing to break the night’s silence. “I love hearing people’s stories,” says Trinity Madison, who founded Camp Laughing Grass four years ago. “And knowing they had fun.”
CANNABIS CAMPING ETIQUETTE
Be respectful. Always. To people and the plant.
Leave no trace. No one wants to see blunt butts on the trail or near their tent.
Be mindful of heat, from camp res and roaches.
Bring extra water. Dehydration and cotton mouth are not a fun combination.
Know your way home. Finding your way in the dark is one thing, but finding your way in the dark while high is another.
The Backwoods Backstory
Maine legalized adult use and retail sale in 2016. After purchasing the 17-acre site in 2019, Madison decided to open a 21+ cannabis-friendly campground for storytelling, sharing, and smoking. But it wouldn’t be cannabis without a pivot, and this coming summer is one for the history books.
Towards the end of last year’s season, Ryan, the founding groundskeeper, died in a motorcycle accident. A vital part of the Camp Laughing Grass vibe, Ryan was the first person you met when you arrived, the first person you called when you ran out of toilet paper or needed firewood, and the first person you asked about local growers. And he was the last person to wave goodbye as you left. Ryan’s impact can still be felt in the campground as each site’s turndown service is adorned with his trademark mini weed-leaf soap.
Then earlier this year, after a TikTok video went viral, the campground sold out for the season. The five glamping sites and five cabins were booked, but Mother Nature had other plans.
“A storm wiped out the paths, and now the river runs right through the campground,” says Madison.
Madison rearranged the glamping sites to accommodate the guests coming this summer from a range of states and countries. She added a converted mini bus wired for electricity and running water. She received permission from the town, which has always supported the business since day one, to build an A-frame structure with an indoor/outdoor space for a private hot tub.
A Booming Destination
Cannabis tourism is evolving and has become a $17 billion industry, according to Forbes data. However, while Maine’s 12 state park campgrounds, Acadia National Park, and approximately 200 licensed campgrounds are excellent camping options, only Camp Laughing Grass discourages alcohol and tobacco and encourages cannabis.
During our stay, we met people from every age and stage—a group of local, single mothers who needed a break from the day-to-day; friends who love to camp and smoke; couples of all kinds; and a mother and her son who just got out of rehab and was trying CBD dominant cannabis to keep him off the hard stuff .
The social aspect of Camp Laughing Grass—smoking and sharing stories—bonds campers and sets it apart from other campgrounds
People like Trinity Madison herself. Not only is she the owner and proprietor of Camp Laughing Grass, but Madison is also its heart and soul. She is knowledgeable, funny, and makes everyone feel at home—and safe. It’s the cannabis community you’ve always wanted to be a part of. And maybe, (just maybe) the rumors of Madison franchising the campground will soon bring cannabis, camping, and community to your state.
About the Author:
Elana Frankel is a writer, creative director, and filmmaker.