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The Emerald Triangle: Cannabis History of Humboldt

Posted by Jen Pike on Aug 25th 2022

The Emerald Triangle: Cannabis History of Humboldt


  • Humboldt is located in Northern California and is one of the three counties which make up the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino). The Emerald Triangle is over 11,000 square miles of redwood forests, coastlines, rolling hillsides, mountains and is the cannabis capital of the US. It is also where Cannadips is proud to call home.
  • In the late 1960s, young people (mostly hippies) sparked the "back-to-the-land" movement where they aimed to move away from urban areas and return to their roots. They lived off the land and also started growing some of the best cannabis in the country, giving them a way to make some serious dollars. A lot of the profit was given back to the community to build roads, schools, hospitals and lots more.
  • The good life soon ended when the federal drug agencies launched campaigns to shut down the farmers– including the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP). CAMP agents destroyed farms, seized crops, and used militarized police forces and helicopters to raid properties. A counterculture began, and Humboldt growers began to hide their crops and go further off-grid.
  • In November 2016, Proposition 64 was passed, allowing anyone over the age of 21 to buy cannabis for recreational use. This may sound like awesome news, but it brought about its own set of issues, as the state has made it really expensive to go legit. Many legacy farmers can’t afford the cost, so it fostered a massive cannabis black market. To add insult to injury the Governor of California Gavin Newsom repealed a cap on acreage grown that was supposed to be in place to help the small farmers in Humboldt County for 5 years. The lobbying of Big Agriculture was too much for politicians to turn down and has thus put an even larger strain on the Emerald Triangle today.


Humboldt County is a beautiful and wild place in Northern California, where Cannadips is lucky to call home. It is part of what is known as the Emerald Triangle, which consists of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino Counties – more than 11,000 square miles of redwood forests, coastlines, rolling hillsides and mountains. This trio of counties makes up the cannabis capital of the US.

The Emerald Triangle has historically been home to over 20,000 cannabis farmers and is considered by many as growing the best and richest cannabis on the US market. Although it is now home to the boom and bust cannabis industry, its strong reputation has developed over decades, with the region experiencing many struggles and challenges.

We're honored to be part of the Humboldt community and want to share the history our home has had to go through to be able to offer you the delicious taste of Cannadips pouches. So sit back, pack a fatty and read about the hills of Humboldt County.

Heading Back To The Land

Young hippie women looking directly at the camera and smiling

As part of the "back-to-the-land" movement, hippies in the late 1960s moved from urban cities in the California Bay Area to rural locations like Humboldt County. Their goal was to live a simple lifestyle that could be supported by the earth's biodiversity, such as the soil for food and the sun for light. But these people were also realistic and understood they needed to generate a source of income, so they planted cannabis.

They started by growing small crops beside their homegrown food and hand-built homes. Over time, they became incredibly talented and innovative at cross-breeding different cannabis seeds from around the world and using light deprivation cultivation methods. They created their own unique Humboldt strains of cannabis plants. These talented Humboldt growers were so interested in the efficacy of the plant that some strains were purely grown for their complex terpene profiles and distinct cannabinoid levels.

The folks brought to Humboldt through the "back-to-the-land" movement created a resilient community that values backbreaking hard work and cared deeply about the symbiotic relationship and their impact on their environment. This led them to be recognized as the pioneers of cannabis growing in the US and became a popular business for families across Humboldt.

It is understood that the profits from the local cannabis industry helped contribute to the community and provide the much-needed infrastructure which would not have been there otherwise. For example, the cannabis industry members assisted with building roads, schools, hospitals, fire departments and other vital community services.

The Outlaw Farmers and Counterculture

Man standing in front of a cannabis grow in a hoop house.

When they first arrived in the Emerald Triangle, the land was open, cheap and unpopulated. It truly had everything a back-to-the-lander could want – open space, water, woods and mountains. They were able to create the foundations for a new community that consisted of personalized healthcare, education systems and jobs. These guys even went about creating their own tax rules. It was a place where people could take a break from the world, get off-grid and start a new life. The area was a perfect representation of what a Babylon free lifestyle could look like and that allure is what spawned the movement.

Eventually, the government got fed up, and federal drug agencies launched campaigns to shut down farmers – including the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP). CAMP agents aimed to destroy Humboldt farms and all the others within the Emerald Triangle. They seized millions of pounds of weed and used militarized police forces and helicopters to raid properties. To this day, the CAMP campaign remains one of the largest anti-drug efforts of its kind in US history.

A counterculture began to emerge as a deep distrust towards law enforcement spread. As a result, Humboldt growers hid their crops and attempted to go further off the grid. Fortunately, the county's geographic isolation helped the residents hide their crops, and the Humboldt farms were hidden behind hills, tree canopies, private roads and locked gates.

Most business deals were done through cash and handshakes. Relationships and partnerships were based on hard-earned trust. Workers were mainly hired on a temporary basis as "bud-trimmers" who could potentially earn an entire year's salary in only a few months.With this came a high risk of felony changes and a rough lifestyle living in the hills while working for the California cannabis growers.

While we believe that the cannabis prohibition was completely unnecessary, it could have ironically been the catalyst for much of the innovation on the farmers' side. The growers had to be very creative to avoid law enforcement and stay hidden from prosecution.

The Aftermath of Proposition 64

Cannabis leaf over a one hundred dollar bill

Cannabis in California got its first push towards legalization with Prop 215 in 1996 and then finally got full legalization of adult-use cannabis in November 2016 when California voters voted “Yes” on Proposition 64. This law permits anyone aged 21 or over to use cannabis recreationally and legally possess and use cannabis in a private or closed area, like their home. Although this is a positive step in the right direction, it has led to its own set of issues for Humboldt cannabis farms.

One of the main obstacles was that most legacy farmers and many in the industry before legalization could not afford the cost of going legal. As a result of passing Prop 64, the state brought in pricey regulations that involved state and local licenses, land permits, and various testing for pesticides, potency and microbiological contamination. For small off the grid farms the expense of treating the regulations like commercial agriculture just didn’t make sense.

The Governor of California Gavin Newsom also took lobbying money from Big Ag days before Prop 64 went to a vote and after he had already gotten all of the Emerald Triangle onboard to come out of the shadows and participate in this community. This lobbying money was to repeal the 1 acre cap designed on protecting the legacy farmers from Big Ag. What ended up happening was giant farms in Salinas, Santa Barbara, and other developed commercial Ag properties came online and began overproducing cheap cannabis which was designed to flood the market and made it untenable for the legacy farmers from the Emerald Triangle.

Due to prices of Cannabis from Big Ag coupled with the costs of being compliant forced some people to operate unlawfully. For example, The Atlantic reported that only 3,500 out of the 32,000 Californian farmers applied for their licenses in 2017. In addition, it resulted in a bit of competition between the legal and illegal markets. Some people still buy from the black market as the prices can be much lower than obtaining from a legitimate legal seller.

It was tough for the state to anticipate how the new propositions would affect the Humboldt cannabis farms before the officials and voters passed them. Legalizing recreational cannabis was supposed to tackle the black market, but this is proving to be a slow burner. The high taxes, fees and growing farm expenses have forced some to operate illegally, pricing farmers out.

Running an illegal grow can leave the connected farmers vulnerable because thieves know these farmers won't be filing police reports. As a result, heightened security measures have been adopted by some farmers, and some even employ teams of armed military veterans to watch over their crops.

Why The Emerald Triangle is Great For Growing

A large cannabis plant with developed trichomes

When the back-to-the-landers moved to Humboldt, their intention was not to create America's largest producer of cannabis. They were searching for a new way of life and the opportunity to grow some cannabis for themselves. However, once they started growing, they discovered that the environment was perfect for cannabis cultivation – with its rare microclimate.

  • Perfectly Humid – Cannabis plants are pretty hardy, and they can survive in many different climate conditions but thrives in humid conditions.
  • Rainfall – It's pretty wet here in The Emerald Triangle as it typically rains each month of the year. Humboldt County can see more than 40 inches of rain in the driest areas and up to 100 inches in the heavy rain zones, which creates an excellent source of clean water needed for growing cannabis.
  • Climate – Temperatures along the California coast tend only to vary 20 degrees from summer to winter, creating a nearly year-round vegetation environment. Humbolt's proximity to the Pacific Ocean influences the temperature, with mean maximum readings of just 70 degrees in July, making the area a perfect climate almost year-round for growing cannabis. Also because in the hills the temperature varies 40 degrees between day and night the cannabis crops get little bits of stress that allow them to produce more terpenes and other exotic rare traits.

Closing Thoughts

We are proud members of the Humboldt cannabis community and truly believe in the quality of plants grown within The Emerald Triangle. The stories of the outlaw farmers have now become legends. Many of the Humboldt farmers are now 3rd generation growers and face new challenges. We support our community of innovators and outlaws who took the greatest risks so we could enjoy legalization and through our brand and product we always work to ensure our community is supported and uplifted by our endeavors.

Through partnerships and investors, we have been able to create a legitimate cannabis business where we can offer Cannadips to hard-working Americans across the nation. We only use American Grown Hemp and always hand make every tin in Humboldt County, the region that has made us famous. When you purchase our uniquely formulated CBD pouches, or our minor cannabinoid line Cannadips Fuel you know you're getting America's best. And if you ever visit the Golden State and want to take a walk on the wild side grab some THC Cannadips and Dip in like a true Redwood Outlaw.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Humboldt County famous for?

Apart from what we consider to be the best cannabis in the whole of the US, Humboldt County is also famous for its magnificent coastal redwoods (the tallest trees in the world). They can be found in the Redwood National and State Parks and Humboldt Redwoods State Park along the Avenue of the Giants.

What makes up the Emerald Triangle?

The Emerald Triangle is made up of three Northern California counties: Mendocino County, Humboldt County, and Trinity County. These three Northern California counties are known to have the ideal terroir (combination of soil and climate) for growing some of the highest quality cannabis in the US.

When did the Emerald Triangle start?

The Emerald Triangle started in the sixties (specifically 1967 during the summer of love in San Francisco) when many hippies and other young people in urban areas gathered from around the world to spread peace, love and talk about how to create a better humanity. The Summer of Love triggered the “back-to-the-land” movement, where young people were inspired to leave the city and live off the land.

Does Humboldt County have the best weed?

Well, we certainly think so! Humboldt is known for having some of the best cannabis in the world. Like the grape growers in Napa Valley, the Humboldt cannabis farmers appreciate and make the most of the region's exceptional environmental conditions – including the soil, climate, humidity and temperature. These are all factors that affect the crop, whether wine or cannabis.

How Real Is Murder Mountain?

If you've got Netflix, you may have seen the docuseries “Murder Mountain,” which explores missing persons in the Emerald Triangle. The small town of Alderpoint has been given the nickname “Murder Mountain” after a serial killer couple moved to the area before being captured. The name stuck as people continued to go missing in the area. But let’s get real here guys, most of the people living in Humboldt Country are kind-hearted, hard-working Americans. We want to set the record straight and say this series was highly sensationalized and the small off the grid farms were not all so dangerous and the vast majority were family owned and helped spawned a thriving community.


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