If you've watched Netflix's latest binge-worthy true crime series, Murder Mountain, then you're probably wondering (aside from, you know, how in the world did all of these disappearances fly under the radar for so long?) where exactly the Emerald Triangle is — the area in which the events in the documentary take place.
The series largely focuses on Humboldt County, where a man named Garrett Rodriguez — among several others — went missing from Rancho Sequoia, an area that became popular for marijuana farming in the late '70s. However, Humboldt is only one county in the area that encompasses the Emerald Triangle, a region that earned its name because it produces 60 percent of the marijuana grown in the US, making it the largest cannabis-producing region in the country.
The Emerald Triangle, located in Northern California, spans over 10,000 square miles and is composed of three counties: Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity. The area used to be known for its fishing and timber industries rather than cultivating cannabis, but with the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996 (which legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes), the cannabis industry exploded. You'd think that the 2016 passage of Proposition 64 (which legalized adult recreational use of marijuana) would only continue to profit this billion-dollar industry, but as it turns out, the vast majority of pot grown in this area is actually a black market product, both grown and sold illegally.
According to the Arcview Group, a cannabis investment and research firm in Oakland, CA, California's legal medical cannabis industry may have boasted $1.8 billion in revenue in 2016, but the illicit markets generated $5.1 billion. For many operators, the cost of growing marijuana legally is far too expensive and time-consuming, and as a result only about 3,000 of the region's operators — out of roughly 50,000 farms — actually have permits and licenses.
The Emerald Triangle may seem like a peaceful place, but as Murder Mountain brings to its viewers' attention, legalization has actually led to seedier practices. Because of this, locals feel less inclined to allow police presence in the area, even if it means keeping people safe from far more insidious behavior.