(Davd McNew/Getty Images)

In Humboldt County, marijuana supports everything from fire departments to schools. Some residents welcome the prospect of legalization. Others want to stick with the inflated profits of the black market. In 2010, journalist Emily Brady decided she would move to Humboldt and live among pot growers. She joins us to talk about her new book, “Humboldt: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier.”

Guests:
Emily Brady, journalist and author of "Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier"

  • dean liman

    Doug Fine wrote a similar book (“Too Hight to Fail”), but it was centered in Mendocino County. What are the key differences between the marijuana scene in Humboldt and Mendocino?

  • Dan

    does the guest not want to address the darker elements or did she just not research that aspect much? she seems to be dismissive or diminishing certain aspects of the overall issue. is her book just about 4 funny hippies or is it broader?

  • Ted Smith

    What is being described is not new. When I worked as a geologist for California State Parks in 1978-1980, the rangers in Garberville described finding pot grows in Humboldt Redwoods and Sinkyone State Parks. In the early 1980s, state geologists indicated they were running into growers that were carrying Uzzis in privately owned forests in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.

    • yes..I know Forestry, LE and others with Many Stories from the 70’s-80’s, involving trip wires, bouncing betty type devices and many other ingenious “Protectionist” moves!

  • Ayn Marx 666`

    Given the depressed and dropping prices of marijuana, I think it the obligation of news organisations (and, really, the general public) to question police officials as to the prices assumed in guessing the dollar-values of the pot seized…and by the same token, ask pro-legalisation people how much tax revenue really _could_ be gained from legal pot, given how low its natural price would likely be.

    (I am pro-legalisation, want it to last once it’s there, and so want those on my side to be as honest as possible.)

  • sammy

    Do the feds distinguish between grows that are legal under CD law and those illegal under can law? They should go after illegal grows on fed public land and bust up the mob growers. Thx.. Sam in mill valley

  • SH

    What efforts are being made by state and federal law enforcement to keep the cartels out of this business and this area? They ARE involved.

  • trite

    Ms Brady at first dismissed the seriousness of the criminal aspects of the trade, but when the reporter from Willits spoke of the vicious problems of organized gangs she partially endorsed the comments, but mainly chose to minimize that aspect. I think she has undermined her own credibility as a narrator.

    • Gavin Ward

      I disagree with you there trite, before that reporter lady called in, Ms Brady had already said that almost everyone she met in Humboldt had been affected by violence of one kind or another..anyway thats another book in itself

    • david d’arte

      Despite billions of dollars spent on drug operations throughout California, the feds have never produced conclusive evidence connecting northern California pot growers with the big Mexican drug cartels. Sure, there are a lot of Mexican nationals working in the pot fields, just like there are a lot of migrants working in the wine industry. And lots of local cops like to talk about “cartel grows,” especially when applying for federal grants or justifying paramilitary tactics to the public. That said, the guest was very clear that there is growing violence associated with the pot trade. But more important, she pointed out the wider societal impact of the industry, including a lost generation of young people and a highly distorted economy that is hugely dependent on the wholesale price of an illegal commodity.

  • JS

    Sadly, the gang related problem with marijuana use is not limited to Humboldt. In the city of Santa Clara, where the football stadium is being built and the Superbowl will be hosted, the marijuana gangsters have infiltrated the mainstream Caucasian youngsters so horribly that the “ruling” Caucasian middle class marijuana users have become the auxilliary Hispanic gang, that the main gang uses to manipulate not only the police but their parents to help them harass, bully, intimidate, control the streets. Their culture is no different than the Hispanic gangs except it is actively protected by the Caucasian mainstream police and parents. They also help to create fake gun shot sounds regularly (by firecrackers, by sling shots onto victims’ rooftops etc) to help mask real gun shots by the gangsters. They have a term, “egg the girls’ homes”, which is how the gangsters instruct the all male Caucasian, middle class, all-male gangs get girls, get information from insides those girls’ homes, and then intimidate the family of these teenage girls. The police effectively condone it by calling it “noise” and often yell at minorities who are non-Hispanic and not part of the Caucasian middle class gangs, to tell those who complain to shut up. These gangsters also promote racism against Afro-Americans and against Asians among these youths. They are a very grave risk for our society long term. They also use the city library center and three nearby Hispanic run fast food stores and restaurants as a hub for their gangster activity — all practically ignored by the police despite many complaints from neighbors.

    • JS

      Also, any 911 calls are never logged in as official reports by the police, so that any activities complained about will not appear under the Federal or State statistics on gang activities. There is talk about one particular 911 operator how is a Hispanic mole, who is popular among the police, because the more serious “noise” activities are often conducted during this operator’s shift, so that the initial report the police already biased the police against the victims, often minority Asians, who are reporting. So the police become part of the intimidation at times.

    • WOW! 😮

  • jurgispilis

    How widespread is foreign cartel influence in the Humbolt pot industry?

  • Hugh Nevin

    The criminal element is the shadow that the industry casts over legitimate cannabis use. The argument – like the proverbial elephant in the room – lurking behind the author’s disinterested treatment is legalization.

  • Guest

    While I appreciate Emily Brady’s coverage of the rapidly expanding marijuana industry in Humboldt country, she has at least two glaring omissions.
    1) Ms. Brady often refers to an economic “collapse” in Humboldt County pending legalization of marijuana. Much of the so-called marijuana economy is composed of people living at high levels of consumption and wealth at the expense of both legitimate businesses and the environment. Why should anyone care if greedy people can no longer make millions of dollars selling illegal drugs? We are not talking about people merely trying to put food on their table and a roof over their heads. These people are building mansions and taking winter vacations in tropical locations.
    2) Ms. Brady failed to interview any of the many people in Humboldt County who do not grow dope or benefit from its presence in their community. My husband grew up in Humboldt County and tries to run a family business without any involvement in the marijuana trade. The problems resulting from the drug trade are many: a shortage of people willing to do regular work because they are in the dope scene, tourists alienated by transients drawn to the area because of the promise of money to be made, inflated prices at the local grocery due to the abundant cash flow in the hands of growers who can afford to pay ridiculously high prices for regular food items, an increased risk of break ins and danger due to the presence of transients who engage in trespassing, loitering, and harassment of passersby, residents, business owners, law enforcement, and each other….The list could go on and on.
    3) Lastly, there are astonishingly beautiful parks in the area containing old growth forests and rare wildlife. The public pays taxes to sustain these parks. The unregulated growing of marijuana threatens to deplete and pollute the watershed which is needed to nourish the forests and wildlife. If the public knew at what peril marijuana puts parks and public land, they would be outraged.
    Personally, I would love to see marijuana legalized and the drug economy “collapse.” Maybe then, our parks, the wildlife, and struggling legitimate businesses would have a chance to survive.

  • Guest

    While I appreciate Emily Brady’s coverage of the rapidly expanding marijuana industry in Humboldt country, she has at least two glaring omissions.

    1) Ms. Brady often refers to an economic “collapse” in Humboldt County pending legalization of marijuana. Much of the so-called marijuana economy is composed of people living at high levels of consumption and wealth at the expense of both legitimate businesses and the environment. Why should anyone care if greedy people can no longer make millions of dollars selling illegal drugs? We are not talking about people merely trying to put food on their table and a roof over their heads. These people are building mansions and taking winter vacations in tropical locations.

    2) Ms. Brady failed to interview any of the many people in Humboldt County who do not grow dope or benefit from its presence in their community. My husband grew up in Humboldt County and tries to run a family business without any involvement in the marijuana trade. The problems resulting from the drug trade are many: a shortage of people willing to do regular work because they are in the dope scene, tourists alienated by transients drawn to the area because of the promise of money to be made, inflated prices at the local grocery due to the abundant cash flow in the hands of growers who can afford to pay ridiculously high prices for regular food items, an increased risk of break ins and danger due to the presence of transients who engage in trespassing, loitering, and harassment of passersby, residents, business owners, law enforcement, and each other….The list could go on and on.

    3) Lastly, there are astonishingly beautiful parks in the area containing old growth forests and rare wildlife. The public pays taxes to sustain these parks. The unregulated growing of marijuana threatens to deplete and pollute the watershed which is needed to nourish the forests and wildlife. If the public knew at what peril marijuana puts parks and public land, they would be outraged.

    Personally, I would love to see marijuana legalized and the drug economy “collapse.” Maybe then, our parks, the wildlife, and struggling legitimate businesses would have a chance to survive.

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