From a stage in the heart of America’s most important marijuana-growing region, a DJ named Eden pleaded for unity. “Yo, give me some Hum-love,” she said. “We’ve been through tougher times than this, y’all.”
She was presiding over the Golden Tarp Awards, a contest to celebrate and promote the storied cannabis of Humboldt County, California. Humboldt is one of three counties that make up the Emerald Triangle, the epicenter of the country’s cannabis production. It begins north of wine country, in northern Mendocino County, and continues up the “Lost Coast” to encompass Humboldt County and, inland, Trinity County. It’s a landscape of misty, old-growth redwood forests and jagged cliffs that plunge into choppy, gray seas, like something out of Tolkien.
It was mid-November, a few weeks before the dawn of legal recreational weed in California, and for small independent growers, legalization was beginning to look like a disaster. California’s thousands of outlaw pot farmers have long been ambivalent about full legalization, given the potential disruptions to their lucrative, tax-free businesses. Now it looked as if their worst fears had been realized.