How Much Money does Humboldt's Marijuana Economy Generate?

In spite of the fact that the economic future of Humboldt hangs on the answer, no one has a good idea of how many marijuana growers there are here.  Most importantly, no one has a good idea how much money this black market economy brings to the area.

Humboldt County News suggests that “…at minimum, 50% [of the county] are involved in the marijuana production industry in some way.” I think this is quite possible in the southern half but frankly who knows?

What I decided to do is look at the number of households in Humboldt–according to the Census Bureau, we had a little over 51,000 in 2000.  Let’s say we have 55,000 now.  If only one fifth of our households grow, that’s 11,000 growing houses/homesteads.

Humboldt County News also argues that there is an average minimum profit in these grower households of about $40,000 (He’s basing this on indoor grows. Outdoor grows probably are higher.)  Multiply 11,000 growing households by $40,000 and the resulting number is an $440,000,000.  Roughly half a billion dollars minimum.  Frankly, I think Humboldt’s underground economy produces well over a billion dollars.

Just recently, The Press Democrat did a story on how marijuana may be propping up land values in Mendocino.  Again it was based on speculation but common sense indicates that something is happening here in Southern Humboldt. Based on anecdotal evidence, properties here are selling for even more than they did 10 years ago.  With land prices up, this supports property taxes. “Not to mention local business revenues and the accompanying sales taxes,” Eric Kirk pointed out a few days ago.

This is all conjecture but conjecture based on what I believe to be conservative numbers. It’s fun to guess but this county needs serious analysis of hard data in order to prepare for what could be a very rocky future as pot prices slip slide downwards.

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15 comments

  • like ! good post

  • I’d sure like to see real estate selling for prices honest working people can afford.
    Lets not forget that these black-market profiteers just make it harder for honest people to make a living here. How much more do honest people pay for rent because so much of our residential real estate is occupied by commercial growers. Do we want Humboldt to be more friendly to criminals than to honest working people? Just because criminals bring money to Humboldt Co. doesn’t mean they make it a better place to live. If County coffers suffer because a criminal endeavor becomes less profitable, so be it. Humboldt Co. will be a much better place to live without all of the dirty money.

    • Boris,
      You have hit on a sore spot of mine. How is it you determine that a farmer is not an “honest hardworking” person. Many farmers I know work harder than your average paper pusher, they make handshake deals and stick by their word, & while not all do, many pay taxes on the money they make, (perhaps fibbing about how they made it) but the government tends to look A little too closely at people who own cars and land but report no income, or income insufficient to cover their obvious expenses.
      They (farmers) wield shovels and picks, they build, and pay help a living wage. They support their communities through generous donations of money and time – and dammit they work! Some people are lazy goodfornothing losers, but those people come in all forms, not just growers, and it cuts both ways buddy, there are a whole lot more losers who don’t grow pot than there are who do. So please don’t generalize an entire working class of people. Every person deserves to be judged on their own worth as an individual and community member.
      May your New Year be Joyful,
      SHB

  • Boris,
    Your point about how residential real estate is occupied by commercial growers is well taken. We all know how hard it is to find rentals around here and property rates are high also. In some ways, I’m frustrated by that also.

    But your point “Just because criminals bring money to Humboldt Co. doesn’t mean they make it a better place to live” bothers me. Just because it is criminal to grow marijuana doesn’t mean it is bad or harmful. Laws have made various things criminal that aren’t bad in themselves. Many marijuana growers bring money and energy to this community. I’m doing a radio piece in which we are talking to non-profits who admit that they exist in large part because of some form of marijuana money and energy poured into them by marijuana growers–this includes everything from fire departments to soup kitchens.

    Humboldt County will not be a better place without the people who currently support so much of what makes this place wonderful. Just because it is illegal now to sell marijuana doesn’t mean that people who sell it are bad and it doesn’t mean that Humboldt County would be better without the growers.

  • Boris,
    Your point about how residential real estate is occupied by commercial growers is well taken. We all know how hard it is to find rentals around here and property rates are high also. In some ways, I’m frustrated by that also.

    But your point “Just because criminals bring money to Humboldt Co. doesn’t mean they make it a better place to live” bothers me. Just because it is criminal to grow marijuana doesn’t mean it is bad or harmful. Laws have made various things criminal that aren’t bad in themselves. Many marijuana growers bring money and energy to this community. I’m doing a radio piece in which we are talking to non-profits who admit that they exist in large part because of some form of marijuana money and energy poured into them by marijuana growers–this includes everything from fire departments to soup kitchens.

    Humboldt County will not be a better place without the people who currently support so much of what makes this place wonderful. Just because it is illegal now to sell marijuana doesn’t mean that people who sell it are bad and it doesn’t mean that Humboldt County would be better without the growers.

  • Kym says,

    Humboldt County will not be a better place without the people who currently support so much of what makes this place wonderful. Just because it is illegal now to sell marijuana doesn’t mean that people who sell it are bad and it doesn’t mean that Humboldt County would be better without the growers.

    After you let stand some of the filthy, threatening accusations posted on your blog, I determined to avoid posting any further comments on this blog. However, I just can’t let this pass. NOT bad people? How do you define bad? Do you know the meaning of the word “AMORAL”?

    This kind of thinking is the root cause of corruption. Corruption, if you don’t know, historically is the root cause of social decay and eventual destruction. You cannot justify the criminality of 50 years by saying these people are NOT “bad” because simply growing and selling pot is “good.” These people are the cancer that lurks underneath until it is way too late. You reap what you sow and you sow death. There are murdered people buried in your hills because of that filth. You forget them? The fact is pot growers, sellers and buyers, ALL, got blood on their hands. That’s bad people. People that think, believe and do things to hurt other people.

    I’ve tried real hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, but come on Kym, there is a limit. The essence of corruption is that you and your kind think that you are better than everyone else because you have the god-give right to judge law. These people deliberately, purposefully and intentionally, and with per-meditated malice violate law without any moral or ethical justification. Trying to justify this “right” to judge law and these criminal’s legitimacy is craven corruption in and of itself, and is by definition, “bad.” That’s the real downside of such thinking – no basic sense of right or wrong. We are all the losers and you most of all.

    You might believe that I don’t have the legitimate right to say what I do about this matter. While you stand four-square behind this criminal culture, many years before you were born, I and my family took a stand against it. Well, I’m here to tell you that we paid a hell of a price. While most all my neighbors over the ensuing years made tens of thousands of tax-free money, I made an honest living the hard way and paid all of my taxes. The fact that we did and the price we paid condemns the lot of you.

    • You sound like a rabid moralist with your angry, bitter diatribes. Sir, I present 2,700 unfettered years of the “Filth” you tend to call cannabis being legal and NO PROBLEMO whatsoever. So why not Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics…. COYOTE! as Margo St. James would say.

  • Kym says,

    Humboldt County will not be a better place without the people who currently support so much of what makes this place wonderful. Just because it is illegal now to sell marijuana doesn’t mean that people who sell it are bad and it doesn’t mean that Humboldt County would be better without the growers.

    After you let stand some of the filthy, threatening accusations posted on your blog, I determined to avoid posting any further comments on this blog. However, I just can’t let this pass. NOT bad people? How do you define bad? Do you know the meaning of the word “AMORAL”?

    This kind of thinking is the root cause of corruption. Corruption, if you don’t know, historically is the root cause of social decay and eventual destruction. You cannot justify the criminality of 50 years by saying these people are NOT “bad” because simply growing and selling pot is “good.” These people are the cancer that lurks underneath until it is way too late. You reap what you sow and you sow death. There are murdered people buried in your hills because of that filth. You forget them? The fact is pot growers, sellers and buyers, ALL, got blood on their hands. That’s bad people. People that think, believe and do things to hurt other people.

    I’ve tried real hard to give you the benefit of the doubt, but come on Kym, there is a limit. The essence of corruption is that you and your kind think that you are better than everyone else because you have the god-give right to judge law. These people deliberately, purposefully and intentionally, and with per-meditated malice violate law without any moral or ethical justification. Trying to justify this “right” to judge law and these criminal’s legitimacy is craven corruption in and of itself, and is by definition, “bad.” That’s the real downside of such thinking – no basic sense of right or wrong. We are all the losers and you most of all.

    You might believe that I don’t have the legitimate right to say what I do about this matter. While you stand four-square behind this criminal culture, many years before you were born, I and my family took a stand against it. Well, I’m here to tell you that we paid a hell of a price. While most all my neighbors over the ensuing years made tens of thousands of tax-free money, I made an honest living the hard way and paid all of my taxes. The fact that we did and the price we paid condemns the lot of you.

    • You sound like a rabid moralist with your angry, bitter diatribes. Sir, I present 2,700 unfettered years of the “Filth” you tend to call cannabis being legal and NO PROBLEMO whatsoever. So why not Call Off Your Tired Old Ethics…. COYOTE! as Margo St. James would say.

  • I'll be the judge of that....

    Just because it is a law, doesn’t mean it’s a good law, a moral law, or a sensible law.

    The prohibition is based in racism and capitalist control of a economic market. There’s no morality to it. All it did was criminalize behavior that wasn’t before. That’s the truth to this day.

    A law created to control communities or economies isn’t moral at all.

    Let me give you an example of some other people who protest and violate the law. Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. Women are intimidated and harassed just for seeking information on abortions. Is it moral to prevent women from exerting their rights under this law? And doctors are murdered and women lose their lives from health complications of a pregnancy or from botched abortions. Do you call all pro-life Christians bad and amoral? Does every Christian have blood on their hands? Or do they have ‘a god given right’ to inhibit that law and to create a mindset that incites a few of their community to murder?

    One hundred and fifty years ago slavery was legal. Was that moral? The Dred Scott decision said the moral thing to do was to turn in a runaway. Was that a good law?

    How about alcohol prohibition? Were makers and consumers of alcohol–and there were thousands and thousands of small brewers and distillers not connection to mobs or violence throughout America in the 20s and early 30s–did the guy fermenting wine in his basement have blood on his hands? By your reasoning, he thought he was better than everybody, corrupt and amoral. Now what does it mean to morality that the law has been repealed? The immorality and corruption are ok now because it’s legal? Or maybe that evil is indelible and is still floating out there somewhere in the universe, waiting to be reincarnated with a new bad law?

    Joe, no one is saying they are better than anybody. But they are saying it’s a useless antiquated and invalid law that the times have completely left behind, and that millions of Americans want to see changed. The truly moral thing to do is recognize reality and reform the law.

  • I'll be the judge of that....

    Just because it is a law, doesn’t mean it’s a good law, a moral law, or a sensible law.

    The prohibition is based in racism and capitalist control of a economic market. There’s no morality to it. All it did was criminalize behavior that wasn’t before. That’s the truth to this day.

    A law created to control communities or economies isn’t moral at all.

    Let me give you an example of some other people who protest and violate the law. Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. Women are intimidated and harassed just for seeking information on abortions. Is it moral to prevent women from exerting their rights under this law? And doctors are murdered and women lose their lives from health complications of a pregnancy or from botched abortions. Do you call all pro-life Christians bad and amoral? Does every Christian have blood on their hands? Or do they have ‘a god given right’ to inhibit that law and to create a mindset that incites a few of their community to murder?

    One hundred and fifty years ago slavery was legal. Was that moral? The Dred Scott decision said the moral thing to do was to turn in a runaway. Was that a good law?

    How about alcohol prohibition? Were makers and consumers of alcohol–and there were thousands and thousands of small brewers and distillers not connection to mobs or violence throughout America in the 20s and early 30s–did the guy fermenting wine in his basement have blood on his hands? By your reasoning, he thought he was better than everybody, corrupt and amoral. Now what does it mean to morality that the law has been repealed? The immorality and corruption are ok now because it’s legal? Or maybe that evil is indelible and is still floating out there somewhere in the universe, waiting to be reincarnated with a new bad law?

    Joe, no one is saying they are better than anybody. But they are saying it’s a useless antiquated and invalid law that the times have completely left behind, and that millions of Americans want to see changed. The truly moral thing to do is recognize reality and reform the law.

  • Back in the day, folks moved here because land was cheap. Many bought land while receiving welfare benefits. Thanks to the black market, pot prices went absurdly high…and so did land prices in Humboldt. It was a collusion between the assessors office and growers. The assessor wanted higher tax payments, and growers wanted to be able to sell their land for a hell of lot more than they paid for it. Now, if you want to buy land in Humboldt you HAVE to grow pot. It is also hard to find a rental in SoHum that doesn’t either require you to grow (after signing a contract stating that you pay x amount, in order to give plausible deniability to the landlord), or charges more than an average working person can afford. Growers and their advocates keep stating that all the pot money is good for the community, but it has made it damn hard to be anything but a grower. That is criminal in my book.

  • Back in the day, folks moved here because land was cheap. Many bought land while receiving welfare benefits. Thanks to the black market, pot prices went absurdly high…and so did land prices in Humboldt. It was a collusion between the assessors office and growers. The assessor wanted higher tax payments, and growers wanted to be able to sell their land for a hell of lot more than they paid for it. Now, if you want to buy land in Humboldt you HAVE to grow pot. It is also hard to find a rental in SoHum that doesn’t either require you to grow (after signing a contract stating that you pay x amount, in order to give plausible deniability to the landlord), or charges more than an average working person can afford. Growers and their advocates keep stating that all the pot money is good for the community, but it has made it damn hard to be anything but a grower. That is criminal in my book.

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