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.