The Future in Limbo for the Emerald Triangle

The other night Julia spotted a story about The Emerald Triangle on one of our local Sacramento news channels. The Emerald Triangle is the nickname for California’s most prolific marijuana producing region, a tri-county area made up of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties.

I don’t watch TV anymore but I did take 5 minutes to watch this story. It confirmed something I learned when I lived there over a decade ago, marijuana growers mostly prefer pot to stay illegal.

The main issue is economic. It’s estimated that 2/3 of the local economy is funded by pot. You see so many people are active in the industry and even those who were not benefited from the influx of pot money into the local economy. So in a way everyone benefitted from this huge cash crop.

In November 2010, Californians will have the opportunity to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use. This would mean that everyone who wants to smoke pot could grow it themselves. Ever since Californians voted to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996 (prop 215) the price of pot has dropped significantly due to simple economics. More supply on the market has been driving prices down.

So imagine what will happen if everyone who wants to grow can do it legally. My fear is that the local economy in that neck of the woods will fall apart and people will be forced to find other ways to make a living. For example land prices have always been high up there making it difficult to live there without growing pot.

Julia and I have always dreamed of moving back ever since we left… no no not to grow pot. I’m not opposed to other people using it but I’ve been a mostly sober guy for years now. But if marijuana is legalized will this be our opportunity to move back as land prices drop? What will these remote communities be like without the influx of so much outside money? Will a tourist trade open up when pot is finally completely out of the closet?

Who knows… only time will tell.

Below is a photo of a little blue house in the village of Mendocino that Julia and I dreamed of buying before the recession. They wanted something like 600K for this tiny house back then. Zillow says it’s worth $658,000 now. Yeah yikes; see what a billion dollar pot industry will do to real estate prices.

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