The Emerald triangle at one point was supplying most of the US cannabis demand. Estimates of the total amount of production were in the billions of dollars per year. This caught the eye of some interested parties.
Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP)
In the rugged hills and rural towns of Northern California, a showdown was brewing. Pitting peace-loving hippie ganja growers against the full force of the Feds, the ugliness of prohibition plunged the region into a war over homegrown cannabis that lasted throughout the 1980s and beyond.
Focused on seizing cash and valuables while destroying harvests and imprisoning growers, DEA agents flooded the Emerald Triangle in an attempt to infiltrate the community. Humboldt cannabis gained popularity as this small community began to share their crops. As this luscious flower made its way down to LA and other larger cities, the feedback was clear. This was the best cannabis on the market. People wanted more. The cost of cannabis grew to $4000/lb, and suddenly, these small crops became extremely profitable. Cultivating cannabis for the masses was never the goal, but it was becoming a vehicle for financial stability. This was the blessing and curse that brought an influx of people looking to grab their piece of the Humboldt cannabis pie.
As the onslaught of new farmers and their help penetrated this community, the landscape and the attention to what was happening within it began to change. The government caught wind of these profits and started to clamp down on this community. Within no time, the CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) helicopters flew overhead targeting farms and burnt them to the ground.
This loving and progressive Humboldt community faced major threat. Too many farms were destroyed and the risk was too great to discuss their work with outsiders. No farmers had interest in talking to the press for fear that it would draw additional unwanted attention. Journalists unsuccessfully tried to speak with farmers.
Journalists would come up to get the ‘real story of Humboldt County’ and no one would talk to them. So they end up in Eureka and the only story they could get was from the sheriffs. So the media reported what law enforcement told them. They described Humboldt County as a criminal-run territory. A lawless enclave of Vietnam veterans that had these militias in the woods who were booby-trapping gardens. That was the first misconception planted during that era. The lies spread. And the image of what was once a beautiful utopia was twisted into that of mafia-like criminals and gangs.
It was a war on the people, not a war on the plant.
July through October, various ground crews and helicopters would infiltrate the forests and terrorize people that lived amongst the hills. The government’s approach to the perceived “problem” drove farmers further into the woods. That era defined the community that stayed. It was what made them growers. This military force was there to get them, but they weren’t giving up. It made the farmers more determined. Quickly, a camaraderie grew between farms. People looked out for each other. They helped protect each other from the onslaught of raids.