Humboldt Growers Freak Out Over Legalization



The latest wrinkle in California's marijuana legalization story comes from up north, where some growers in the Emerald Triangle foresee economic apocalypse. If cannabis is legalized for adult use and cultivation, they say supply may increase and prices will collapse along with grower revenue, which can reach $5,000 per pound for the most potent, well-tended crops.

The Associated Press reported from a town hall up North where Anna Hamilton, 62, a Humboldt County radio host and musician said: "The legalization of marijuana will be the single most devastating economic event in the long boom-and-bust history of Northern California."

Some of Hamilton's neighbors, however, are a bit more sanguine. They say Humboldt could become the new Napa Valley of cannabis. The AP reported that "a dreadlocked younger grower ... objected that no one could replicate the quality of the region's" cannabis. "Humboldt nuggets - that was like the holy grail," he said. "Anyone can grow marijuana. But not everyone can grow the super-heavies, the holy bud."

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that the estimated value of Humboldt County's pot crop ranges from $1.2 billion to $4.4 billion. In comparison, the county's total taxable retail sales were $1.3 billion in 2007, according to the Center for Economic Development at CSU Chico.

And the concern voiced by Humboldt residents may not be just paranoia. The state Board of Equalization estimated cannabis prices will drop 50 percent after legalization, and demand will go up forty percent. However, a 2009 study by the Rand Corporation economist couldn't say what would happen if cannabis legalization occurred. There's just not enough economic data to make such predictions, they noted.

Never doubt the power of unintended consequences.

Also: Rolling Stone just did a HUGE piece called "MarijuanAmerica" that's required reading for the newcomers to the topic.