When someone on my team asked if I wanted to sponsor and attend the Humboldt County Growers Alliance “House of Humboldt” exhibition in Eureka on November 9th I instinctually said, “Let’s do it!” I have wanted to get up there ever since I first embarked headfirst on this journey into cannabis. I probably heard of Humboldt sometime in high school and it was most decidedly because of their weed. For those who do not know, Humboldt County is far away, not only in location, but culture and atmosphere as well. Far from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay. Even Santa Rosa seems miles away. Humboldt is undoubtedly a different world.
First off, we landed in a very heavy fog. After recounting our landing experience to some locals, I learned that the airport was actually built to help WW2 pilots learn to land in the fog to prepare them for conditions in Europe. As you descend into ACV you are perilously close to the jagged mountain peaks and then all of a sudden you are in a dense fog, white knuckling it, and you don’t see the ground until you are on it. The first thing I noticed was the air. So much oxygen and freshness and pine. Taking it in in deep breaths almost made the trip worth it right off the bat, and we hadn’t left the airport yet.
One thing I learned about the Humboldt cannabis industry is that for the people involved, it is truly a lifestyle. Many of them have been cultivating for generations. It is these farmers and the medical patients in San Francisco that the modern industry owes itself too. We all owe it to these farmers to buy their products and they deserve a place at the center of the industry more than anyone. I always get asked the questions, “Is cannabis turning corporate?” or “Who is winning the suits or the heads?” My response has always been that both are winning when working in partnership together, and there will always be a place in the legal industry for sun grown outdoor Norcal weed, as it embodies California cannabis. These farmers who have been living off the grid finally have the chance to market their products and tell their stories. They only need to get connected with the right capital and partnerships to do it.
Eagle House Inn at Humboldt County
When I was at the exhibition I made sure to bend the knee and respect these operators. They knew more about cannabis (the plant) than anyone I had ever spoken to.They were all trying to make it happen in the legal market and want to be legitimate. Many of them lack the experience and connections to raise capital and are bootstrapping their way into the legal market, which is really tough in an industry overburdened with taxation and regulation. The profiles of many of these Humboldt cannabis operators are that several farmers went in together and established a distribution company to legally sell their flower in California.
These distribution companies largely provide wholesale bulk flower B2B to the industry. Most of them have their own branded packaged flower brand that represents the “top shelf” from all the harvests. Right now with the price of quality flower hovering over $1000 / pound, these guys can scrape by and survive. What will happen here if the price drop Oregon saw in 2018 happens?
At the end of the day my firm belief is that the cannabis grown in Humboldt one day can be the most valuable cannabis in the world. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law additional protections for this industry, preventing legal cannabis companies from claiming the plant it is grown somewhere it is not. That is a good step!
Imagine a world where someone in Florida can purchase quality outdoor cannabis from the most famous Cannabis Appellation in California. If someone in a cafe in France can get a pre-roll from Humboldt Farms? A lot needs to happen to get there. I hope this community can continue to persist and thrive until then.