In the vein of Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief and Deborah Feldman’s Unorthodox, journalist Emily Brady journeys into a secretive subculture–one that marijuana built.
Say the words “Humboldt County” to a stranger and you might receive a knowing grin. The name is infamous, and yet the place, and its inhabitants, have been nearly impenetrable. Until now.
Humboldt is a narrative exploration of an insular community in Northern California, which for nearly 40 years has existed primarily on the cultivation and sale of marijuana. It’s a place where business is done with thick wads of cash and savings are buried in the backyard. In Humboldt County, marijuana supports everything from fire departments to schools, but it comes with a heavy price. As legalization looms, the community stands at a crossroads and its inhabitants are deeply divided on the issue–some want to claim their rightful heritage as master growers and have their livelihood legitimized, others want to continue reaping the inflated profits of the black market.
Emily Brady spent a year living with the highly secretive residents of Humboldt County, and her cast of eccentric, intimately drawn characters take us into a fascinating, alternate universe. It’s the story of a small town that became dependent on a forbidden plant, and of how everything is changing as marijuana goes mainstream.