Humboldt County, California is a wild place. Towering redwoods, acres of undeveloped land, running streams and a rocky coastline hold its borders in a fierce, natural glory. It’s no shock that Humboldt attracts those with a pioneering spirit. Generation after generation have come to this Northern California frontier to seek fortune and freedom. The lure of gold and timber came first, but for the last four decades, another gift of nature has sustained this wild community—cannabis.
Brought North in the 1970s by hippies and back-to-the-landers, cannabis took to the hot days, cool nights and luscious humidity of Humboldt County. It grew—pardon the pun—like a weed. The majority of the cannabis crop was previously imported from abroad; mostly Mexico. The potential for pesticides in cannabis grown in Mexico gave way to an interest in Humboldt-grown flower, and the quality kept them smoking it. The main reason for Humboldt excellence, aside from an ideal climate, is that growers from Humboldt were quick to pick up on the fact that the female plant, sinsemilla, produces the best effects. It was revolutionary in the US, and has become the new standard for cannabis cultivation.
By 1979, 35 percent of cannabis consumed in California was homegrown, mostly in Humboldt County. By 2010, 79 percent of all cannabis in the United States was being supplied by California, and the majority of that cannabis was grown in Humboldt County. But it wasn’t just the ideal natural conditions that put Humboldt cannabis on the map—it was the unique history and spirit of the community.