Anderson Valley Advertiser May 14, 2003
Buying Dope in Humco
by Bud Green
The Northern California pot growing culture is very clubby. In Mendocino and Humboldt, it's the growers against not just the cops but also CAMP. This vigilante group, the Campaign Against Marijuana Production, believes that pot is not a bountiful cash crop that creates abundant business in their counties, but rather is an evil source of corrupting criminal activity that holds serious potential to destroy the youth of the area. CAMP operates helicopters in the late part of the growing cycle when the plants are visible through binoculars from the air. CAMP also patrols the country roads looking for suspicious activity and noting license tag numbers.
The growers, to neutralize the CAMP activities, maintain a hotline to which anyone may call to learn the current location of CAMP's vehicles as noted by spotters working shifts during season. In one growing zone, the town of Elk, about 20 miles south of the town of Mendocino, an annual bake sale is held at the conclusion of harvest. All the growers attend the sale, and the cakes and pies are bid according to the richness of the harvest. A grower with a bumper crop might, for example, bid $500 on a pie, signifying he will have plenty of pot for sale after his regular customers have been supplied. So anyone who lands a high volume buyer and cannot fill his order from his own harvest will know the $500 guy has plenty.
At the Albion River Inn, a beautiful and pricey hotel and restaurant in Mendocino, the diners come in two varieties during late autumn. At one table will be a tanned quartet of wealthy silver haired retirees, up from Marin County for a long weekend, oozing tasteful attire and good table manners. At the next table, a pony-tailed hippy in his late 20s with a long-skirted "Hessian" girlfriend will be celebrating the harvest with a $200 bottle of Cabernet and a $300 room in the Inn.
There is a definite family flavor to growers in these towns, and once you're known, you can expect access to some of the finest pot in the world. Grown from Dutch hybrid seeds, imported from Amsterdam via cut-out points in Canada, cultivated in the same soil as the nearby wine regions, this is the gourmet pot of America. Only organic fertilizers are employed. The same fog dampens the plants by night, the same sun burns it away and warms the plants by day. It is, as one of the growers told me on an early trip to score, "a pot growing factory." They are professional and conscientious. Many have studied hydroponics and horticulture at nearby Humboldt State, part of the California State University system.