Many legal growers are finding that they can't move their product.
RCATA, Calif. -- The pot market is crashing in California's legendary Emerald Triangle.
closure of hundreds of marijuana dispensaries across California and a
federal crackdown on licensing programs for medical pot cultivation are
leaving growers in the North Coast redwoods with harvested stashes many
Purportedly legal medical cultivators are fleeing to
the black market. So much cheap weed is getting dumped in the college
town of Arcata, some local dispensaries say business is down 75 percent.
Even the region's itinerant and colorful bud trimmers are going broke.
the scores, people have long trekked into the marijuana fields and
indoor greenhouses of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties. Workers
used to earn as much as $200 a pound meticulously cutting leaves from
marijuana buds, prepping them for display at dispensaries or for sale in
a purely illicit market.
These days, a man called Mover, 47, a
dreadlocked migrant from Ohio who is a fixture in downtown Arcata, said
the tedious work isn't worth his trouble as the per-pound pay rate has
dropped to $100 or often just a few nuggets of pot.
"I got paid
in weed," Mover, who refused to give his real name, said of his last
trimming job. "It's worthless here. You can't give it away. And I'm not
going to transport anything. I'm too old, and I don't want to go to
The region's pot pilgrimage had accelerated in recent
years as people were drawn by local cannabis traditions and dreams of
cashing in on the medical marijuana market. They planted marijuana in
the backwoods and in rewired houses with high-intensity grow lights.
the saturation of pot growers set off a price tumble by 2010, as a
pound of prime Emerald weed slipped from $5,000 to the $3,000 range for
marijuana grown indoors to the $2,000 range for product grown outdoors.
Lately, prices are in free fall.
"Last I heard, a pound of
marijuana is $800 for outdoor grown," said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom
Allman in Ukiah. "That's plummeting. You might do better with tomatoes."
marijuana meltdown could have major regional effects. In Humboldt
County, a recent study by a local banker estimated marijuana accounts
for more than one-fourth of the county's $1.6 billion economy.
Arcata's Humboldt Patient Resource Center, a dispensary that grows its
marijuana on site, cultivator Kevin Jodry said fewer people are coming
to buy seedlings for this year's outdoor marijuana crop or quarterly
"Many people distributing in the medical marijuana
market didn't get into it for the risk situation," he said. "The people
who were formerly in the black market were able to stay functioning.
People who were not criminals can't move their product."
recent years, many locals already thought the influx of pot growers
exceeded demand in the state's sanctioned medical pot market. When U.S.
authorities in October announced a crackdown on medical marijuana
businesses they contended were profiteering in violation of federal and
state laws, it darkened their fears.
Lelehnia Du Bois, 41, was
one who thought she had found a safe niche. A former fashion model in
Southern California, Du Bois started growing marijuana indoors in Eureka
after rupturing her spinal cord. She supplied her unused home-grown
"Sweet God" to a Eureka dispensary, earning $5,000 a year on top of her
disability income, she said.
Du Bois had spent her childhood in
Trinity County and remembers growers having "a big pot-luck" meal after
the outdoor marijuana harvest. She said the weed culture changed
markedly as indoor growers in Arcata and Eureka competed for access to
the medical market -- and many went into illegal trafficking.
indoor pot prices dropped as low as $1,800 a pound, "People started
taking risks. All of a sudden, people were not farmers. They were drug
dealers," Du Bois said.
Last year, months before federal
prosecutors began targeting California dispensaries for closure, Du Bois
got out of the pot business and moved out of Humboldt County. She now
lives in Utah.
Pressures on growers intensified after Drug
Enforcement Administration agents raided a marijuana farm that had been
licensed by Mendocino County and was considered a model for establishing
local compliance rules for medical cultivation.
prompted Mendocino County supervisors in January to rescind a program
that allowed the sheriff to enforce a 99-plant limit on pot farms by
attaching $50 zip ties to each plant and inspecting the gardens of
nearly 100 growers who provided documentation to show they were serving
medical pot users.
The program, which also offered cheaper tags for smaller quantity growers, brought in $630,000 in county fees in two years.
Allman said it allowed his department -- which spends 30 percent of its
$23 million budget on pot enforcement -- to target major cultivators he
says are illegally growing thousands of plants, diverting water and
fouling the environment.
Humboldt County had sought to put a
similar program in place last summer as District Attorney Paul Gallegos
called for licensing to ensure "sustainable and responsible
cultivation." After the federal government launched its crackdown,
supervisors tabled work on the plan, and Eureka and Arcata placed
moratoriums on new dispensaries.
Among the most worried
cultivators are the outdoor growers who increasingly struggle to compete
with the exotic strains produced in climate-controlled indoor grow
Alison Sterling Nichols, executive director of the Emerald
Growers Association, which seeks to protect the Emerald Triangle's
sun-grown pot traditions, said outdoor growers were most directly
affected by the collapse of local licensing programs. The group backs
legislation to regulate medical marijuana statewide as long as it would
preserve growers' ability to supply dispensaries.
shouldn't have to sleep with one eye open," Sterling Nichols said.
"People should be able to move from the black market into the light. We
haven't been able to bridge that gap. We have hills of healthy outdoor
product we can't take to the market."
Meanwhile, many worry the Emerald Triangle will go back to being the hub of California's illegal marijuana trade.
month, authorities in Pennsylvania arrested the former operator of a
Humboldt dispensary for allegedly shipping more than 25 pounds of pot in
heat-sealed packets to a home he was visiting. State officers in
Nebraska also stopped a Mendocino County man and a companion with 62
pounds of weed stuffed in duffle bags.
In consecutive days in
late February, Humboldt authorities conducted two separate raids on
growers suspected of criminal distribution, seizing nearly $700,000 in
cash and 7,000 plants.
In Mendocino, Allman said his officers
last year eradicated 642,000 plants, some loosely tied to Mexican
trafficking networks but most involving Californians or residents from
other states who secretly grew on public lands and private property.
a federal crackdown and a shrinking market, Allman said, many
out-of-towners may leave and "everything is going to go underground."
Supercloset Deluxe 600watt Co2 Ro200 Hydroponic Grow Box Closet System
2 new or used available from $2,900.00
Product DescriptionFor 9 years, The #1 Selling Fully Automated Grow Cabinet on the market! 72"Hx36"Wx24"D of clean lines and professionally designed for ease of use for the novice through the master grower. Upgraded 600Watt HPS lighting system illuminates 16-Plants in the flower chamber. 48-Watt T-5 lights illuminate the clone/veg area. Excellent airflow provided by a height adjustable internal circulation fan and an exhaust fan that pulls air through an activated carbon filter. Comes with EVERY imaginable component to get you up and growing within 90minutes of receiving the product. Our CO2 package adds 30% to your yields and the RO200 provides the water quality to deliver the best tasting fruits and vegetables ever!
- Amazon Sales Rank: #347200 in Kitchen & Housewares
- Brand: SuperCloset
- Model: SUPDLX600CO2RO200
- Dimensions: 72.00" h x 36.00" w x 24.00" l, 110.00 pounds
- -16-Gauge Steel, Secure, Lockable, Fireproof Fully Automated Grow Cabinet
- -CO2 and RO 200 Upgrades for the biggest and best grow ever
- -460 cfm of Total Internal Airflow
- -All fans, filters, nutrients, tds meter, rockwool cubes, hydroton rocks included
- -3-Year Warranty
Customer ReviewsMost helpful customer reviews
See all customer reviews...