Monday, May 20, 2019

The New Yorker Does Humboldt

Posted By on Mon, May 20, 2019 at 12:42 PM

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Humboldt County just got The New Yorker treatment.

The lead story on the magazine’s website today, “How Legalization Changed Humboldt County Marijuana,” takes a deep dive into Humboldt County’s cannabis industry, its roots and its future. Spoiler alert: The piece isn’t entirely optimistic.

“Before legalization, people grew cannabis however they could and developed methods to avoid getting caught by law enforcement,” writes Emily Witt. “Regulation demands a different set of skills. Instead of loading their crop into duffel bags and sending it out of state, they have to learn branding and marketing. Legalization brings with it the costs of taxes, permitting, compliance and new competitors. It has also occasioned a rapid drop in price. Now Humboldt County is experiencing not only an economic crisis but also an existential one. What happens to a group of people whose anti-government ethos was sustained by an illegal plant that is now the most regulated crop in California?”
It’s a good question.

It’s always interesting when a national heavyweight reports on Humboldt County, allowing us to see our issues and ourselves through an outsider’s eyes.

Take Witt’s description of Garberville:

“Garberville, the supply hub of southern Humboldt County, is perched on the south fork of the Eel River. The town’s main street, Redwood Drive, can be walked in five minutes. Garberville has the rough edges of a gold-rush town, but with peace flags and hemp lattes. It’s a place where min in Carhartt jackets and hunting camo drink ginger Yogi tea and park muddied Dodge Rams outside the Woodrose Café, where they eat organic buckwheat pancakes. The town has a natural-food store where you can buy locally sourced Humboldt Fog cheese, and a home-goods stores where you can buy a wool mattress or a composting toilet. When I visited in February, the marquee of a shuttered movie theatre in town bore the slogan of a newly formed visitors’ bureau: “Elevate the Magic.” But Garberville did not seem entirely ready to make itself over as a place for a romantic getaway — forty years of paranoia and chosen seclusion are not easily dispelled.”

Witt’s piece is well worth a read, whether you find it rings true about the realities of a changing Humboldt or you don’t recognize the image staring back at you (and out to the rest of the world). Find it here and let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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