Q: What exactly is the Emerald Triangle and where is it? 

A. It’s where cannabis aviators lose their bearings and mysteriously disappear, never to be heard from again.

B. It’s somewhere at the end of a road made of yellow bricks and over the rainbow.

C. It’s the 3 counties of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity in northwestern California that produce the most cannabis in the entire United States.

D. It’s what happens when you place three emeralds on the ground to form a triangle in order to find the 8th Horcrux that not even The Dark Lord himself (no, not the 45th president of the U.S.) knew about.

If you chose anything other than option “c,” you win points for creative thinking, but you also lose points for choosing the wrong answer. The Emerald Triangle in the northwest region of California not only has the most cannabis farmers in the States who have been growing there for generations, but it also holds the bragging rights to producing some of the highest-quality marijuana in the entire world. Hence, its other nickname is “America’s Cannabis Garden.”

How the Emerald Triangle Came to be

The Emerald Triangle has its roots in 1967, which is often referred to as the “Summer of Love” in San Francisco. This was also when President Nixon and his DEA went after members of the anti-war movement, most of whom we now refer to as the hippies. Nixon’s administration knew they couldn’t just go after these individuals for being Black and/or for protesting the Vietnam War. So, instead, they concluded that if they got the general public to connect hippies and Black folk with the usage of heroin and marijuana along with criminalizing these substances, they could turn the public into believing that innocent folk was to blame for the “downturn” of American society. All of this would eventually lead to the War on Drugs being launched full-scale in 1971, which was at its core deeply racist.

So, Nixon and his crew started out by going after Black folk around the country and hippies in the infamous Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. In regards to the creation of the Emerald Triangle, this targeting of the flower children in the Haight caused them to flee to the more rural parts of the country, with many starting farms in the fertile agricultural lands of northern California where along with growing fruits and vegetables, they also grew weed. In 1996, California legalized the use of marijuana via Proposition 215. In essence, both the political and social climates and literal Mediterranean-like climate of northwestern California led to the prosperous production of marijuana in the counties of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity, which in cannabis circles are now referred to as the Emerald Triangle.

Cannabis Cultivation and the Emerald Triangle

As you know, different crops thrive in different areas due to the terrain, soil, climate, and so on. Most everyone has heard of Napa Valley, aka “Wine Country,” which is known for being an ideal location for the growing of grapes for the production of a vast array of wines. The rich volcanic soil and Mediterranean-like climate all make the Emerald Triangle a conducive region for growing high-end cannabis strains outdoors. To be more specific, it would be even more correct to describe the environment of these three counties as a microclimate as the Emerald Triangle gets plenty of rain and sun, with warm-hot days and cool summer nights in the summer, and nice cool winters, which serve to replenish the land.

Furthermore, the Emerald Triangle also has idyllic wind and soil conditions. All of these things combined make for the ideal setting for cultivating marijuana. Plus, with the hippies having started out there in the 1960s, there are now generations-old cannabis farms, which means some of the top expert growers in the world all reside in this one area. The Emerald Triangle has been accurately described by some as a sort of “cannabis cultivation brain trust.” Truly, this area is rich not just in marijuana farmlands but in wisdom and experience. 

The Emerald Triangle Today

Approximately 250,000 people call the Emerald Triangle home, a good majority of whom either work in some aspect of the cannabis industry or enjoy consuming the beautiful buds that are locally grown. Some experts estimate that at least 60% of weed in the U.S. is grown in this area. So, to say that the economy of this area is based on the cultivation, distribution, and selling of weed is putting things lightly. These days, you can easily look up and find cannabis tour group packages online that will take you around the Emerald Triangle, in which you not only have the opportunity to take in the gorgeous scenery, tour farms, meet expert cultivators, learn more about the region’s rich history and how various strains are grown, etc. but, “most importantly,” you get to sample some of the goods!

Written By Kim Thompson

Along with being an award-winning creative and literary writer, Kim works as a freelance copywriter, editor, and proofreader both domestically and internationally. 

To find out more about Kim and her work, go to: eyerightwords.com

For inquiries, e-mail Kim at: eyerightwords@gmail.com