Humboldt County in Northern California used to conjure images of Redwoods, six rivers, fog draped lagoons, the Pacific Ocean, and hard-headed and independent souls. Now, Humboldt County means marijuana. Much of which is being grown by the descendants of those hard-headed, independent pioneers. I don’t claim to know the economic evolution of the marijuana industry in Humboldt.
I know my generation stood in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth and did our best to figure a way to stay, to support and raise our kids in the place we loved. Our ancestors over-fished the ocean and clear-cut the forests. In the ‘70’s and ‘80’s the area did a good job of developing tourism and the art and music scene. Seasonal workers and artists and musicians being known for their stable lifestyles.
Into this economic void, marijuana lifted its green head and spread its leaves. The stuff took root. In Bigfoot Blues, Bubba is a grower. A few people wondered why I made such a likable character a drug dealer. These people were not from Humboldt County. I’ve moved out of the area, so those of you still lucky enough to make it your home, please, help me out here. Can you gather a dozen Humboldt County residents together and not have at least one of them earn a part of their living from grass? If not growing, then trimming?
I have mixed feelings about this industry in my old home county. People I love have been hurt by drugs. During growing season, you can’t walk in the woods without being afraid of setting off a booby trap or getting shot by a paranoid grower. The medical marijuana law has, I suspect, raised the cost of buying a home in the area because all you need to pay for the house is a crop or two, grown in your home, if not legally than without threat of legal action. And, last but most disturbing, it looks like there are a good many home invasions in Humboldt County where people with guns come in, tie up the residents, steal nothing that can be reported and leave. Hard to call the police and say, Hey, can you help me out? Someone robbed me of my medical marijuana.
So, none of this is good. On the other hand, people have to eat. They have to feed their families and put a roof, however moldy it may be, over their heads. And, frankly, I know and love a whole bunch of pot heads. Marijuana is not crack or heroin or meth.
Still, I do wish marijuana hadn’t taken root quite so vigorously in my old hometown.
Of course, that could just be me getting old, wanting to go back to the time when my grandfathers fished and logged and denuded the land and resources. You know, the good old days.