For a show with a name as violent Murder Mountain, the actual location that the documentary series shows viewers sounds almost serene — the Emerald Triangle. While the Triangle itself is home to a large swath of greenery, it’s what’s beneath that foliage that turns the Triangle into Murder Mountain. For those not in the know, the Emerald Triangle is what people refer to as the largest marijuana-producing region in California, consisting primarily of the mountainous regions of Humboldt County, Trinity County, and some of Mendocino County, according to CannabisReports.org.
Humboldt County has grown a reputation akin to the Napa Valley’s reputation for fine wine, thanks in part to the fact that most marijuana coming from the area is grown outdoors as opposed to indoors. But the whole of Emerald Triangle is known for the quality of its marijuana and a abundance of growers, but illegal growers have reportedly turned the Triangle into a place rife with violence, deaths, and disappearances, including the death of Garret Rodriguez, whose disappearance serves as Murder Mountain’s introduction into the world of the Emerald Triangle.
MerryJane.com reports that some farmers in the Emerald Triangle have taken to protecting their plants with everything from guard dogs to rigged booby traps, given the large influx of people to the region taking advantage of the state’s marijuana laws and economy. While marijuana is growing increasingly legal across America, Murder Mountain suggests that it would take some serious reform to change the culture of violence that pervades the Emerald Triangle.
The Crime Report from John Jay College claims that the Emerald Triangle is home to an "illegal grow industry," and that the industry has led to a strong presence of both criminal cartels seeking to make a profit and private security firms working on behalf of corporate clients. While it’s legal to grow marijuana in the Emerald Triangle, Grist reports that for some it is simply more profitable to remain illegal, without having to file any of the requisite forms, pay permit fees, perform quality control testing, or deal with any of the other hurdles that come with growing a safe product to sell to the state’s many medicinal marijuana dispensaries. But growing illegally also allows one to undercut the prices of those who are growing weed legally.
While the illegal grow sites in the Emerald Triangle have had an impact on the people of the region, it’s also been suggested that they have been having a negative impact on the ground itself. The counties grow sites, both legal and illegal, contribute to water shortage throughout the region, which, according to a report by Van Butsic and Jacob C Brenner, threaten erosion, sedimentation, landslides, and threaten animal habitats.
While the environmental impact of the Triangle doesn’t have much to do with the case at the center of Murder Mountain, it goes to show just how complicated the marijuana industry is, at all levels. Although CNBC reports that marijuana in Humboldt County alone is a billion-dollar industry, there is also a whole lot of discussion about whether the money that comes from it is worth all the trouble it reportedly causes. The Emerald Triangle may sound like a serene place where nothing goes wrong, but Murder Mountain promises to do an effective job of dispelling any notion that the Triangle is free from the darkest parts of humanity.
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