What is the Emerald Triangle and Why is it a Weed Mecca?

20 Jan 2022
Emerald Triangle

The Emerald Triangle bears no connection to the Bermuda Triangle, but it is known for making its visitors go a bit loopy!

A mecca for cannabis in the United States of America, the Emerald Triangle is an area with a unique microclimate comprised of three separate counties.

You’ve probably heard it referred to in conversation or online, and the truth is, it’s the mountainous, green heart of marijuana production in the United States. The Emerald Triangle is a region in northern California comprised of three counties, Mendocino, Trinity, and the legendary Humboldt county. These three counties are responsible for more marijuana cultivation than any other place in the US, and it has a long history of cannabis cultivation that dates back to the late 1960s, long before cannabis legalization efforts began in the US of A. 

But what is it about the Emerald Triangle that makes it so special, and how did it even get started in the first place? More importantly, how does it compare to BC bud grown in Canada’s province of British Colombia?

Keep reading for answers to all these questions and more!

The Origins of the Emerald Triangle

What Is The Emerald Triangle

The history of the Emerald Triangle stretches back to the late 1960s Haight-Ashbury hippy scene in San Francisco. Also known as the “Summer of Love,” this movement progressive liberal social values, experimented with drugs and extolled peace and harmony values. 

San Francisco quickly became hippie central for Americans all over the country looking to find themselves and communicate with others. 

Over time, large amounts of these free-spirited individuals, along with Vietnam War protestors, purchased and moved into the hills and mountains in the northern California area that would eventually become the Emerald Triangle, with some even moving to Canada to settle in BC.

How It Started

Many of these counterculture refugees went with the intent of starting free love communes or joining the back-to-the-land movement. As part of this more rural-centric living, many people also began growing the cannabis plant for recreational and medical reasons. 

As luck would have it, the growing conditions in their new home would prove perfect for cultivating cannabis! 

Eventually, they would begin growing strains that would become renowned in the state and across the American cannabis landscape.

The hippy farmers of the Emerald Triangle continued breeding and growing their favourite strains through the years. 

Eventually, the medical cannabis industry opened up in California, and some of these strains became available legally for the first time ever.

How It’s Going

Even though cannabis was illegal until recent years, the growers of the Emerald Triangle have been cannabis farmers for generations, supplying not only the valley and southern California area with some of the best cannabis in the American market.

Eventually, Proposition 64 or “The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act “made cannabis cultivation legal at the state level so that people who once lived on illegal income could now become legitimate business owners.  The new law also allows for the adult recreational use of marijuana and other cannabis products.  

This took cannabis to a place that the medical market would never have seen in such a short time.

The legendary weed that flows from Mendocino county and the rest of the Emerald Triangle to the valley, San Francisco, and beyond, has been growing year after year under the care of some of the most passionate people in the cannabis industry.

Some Cannabis Growers Have A Different View Of This New Industry

Emerald Triangle Weed

While the bud boom may be a new gold mine for Emerald Triangle, and California in general, some of the veteran weed growers of Humboldt County and the greater Emerald Triangle do not support the full retail legalization that is becoming common.

The reasoning runs surprisingly contrary to the goals of the hippies that grew the Emerald Triangle’s fame: money. 

There is nearly universal support by the Emerald Triangle locals to support the medical marijuana industry. 

Still, many of those growing the finely-tuned Humboldt cannabis prefer to sell on the grey market.

They are worried that increasing legalization will cause quality to fall and leave many who need access to medical marijuana, but don’t have the funds to purchase it through the government, left out to dry. 

Like other products commodified by capitalism, many corporations compete with each other in a race to the bottom. They try to figure out the cheapest way to grow average bud that consumers will still buy. 

After they get rid of the grey market, they hitch their prices back up and leave everyone else priced out. It’s a problem that growers in the Emerald Triangle, and your friends over at Cannabismo, are proud to fight every day. 

Today, while some Emerald Triangle growers have switched over to commercial cultivation, many more choose to stay true to the original mission of their ancestors – helping their community and those in need gain access to great cannabis. 

If you want to learn more about the battle between government overreach and accessible cannabis growers, be sure to check out “BC Cannabis Stores vs Cannabismo: The Best Place to Buy Weed.”

California vs BC Bud – What’s Better?

The Emerald Triangle is undoubtedly a mecca for weed but how does it compare against another great source for cannabis; British Columbia? 

While both locales are famous for their homegrown cannabis, the answer to the question of “where does the world’s best cannabis come from” may not be as clear-cut as many would like, and it may ruffle a few feathers.

BC Bud Beats All

Even though Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties in northern California are innovating in some really great cannabis grows, bud from the Emerald Triangle still comes in behind British Columbia’s best.

Cannabis that’s being produced by growers in the BC area is consistently some of the best cannabis in the world, and we’re not just saying that anecdotally, either. 

BC cannabis constantly ranks among the best in competitions like the High Times Cannabis Cup, an international event comparing and ranking cannabis from around the world. 

Examples of award-winning BC-grown Canadian strains include:

Northern Lights

Pink Kush

MK Ultra


Let’s take a look at just what makes that possible.

Less Environmental Impact

Bc Bud

Growing cannabis in the Emerald Triangle is turning out to have a bigger impact on the environment than most conscientious cannabis consumers would prefer.

Not only is there an increasing number of farms popping up in the region, but there is also an ongoing problem with harmful grow operations.

These “guerilla grow” ops are generally people that grow outdoors in public or protected lands, violating the terms of use for those areas. These harmful growers camp and live on the property until they finish their grow and are known for dumping personal and sometimes chemical waste into the Humboldt county forests.

Over the decades this has resulted in the accumulation of significant amounts of trash, junk, even entire abandoned vehicles & vandalized grow houses.

Still, it’s important to make the distinction between these guerilla growers and growers who have been in the Emerald Triangle for decades.

Emerald Triangle cannabis cultivators, also known as legacy growers, have been growing cannabis sustainably and responsibly for decades. In comparison, these new guerilla growers have no loyalty to the region and are only interested in making a quick buck without any regard to Emerald Triangle’s environment or its inhabitants. 

With that being said, growers in BC still have less of an environmental impact on their surroundings due to the fact that much of the province is a temperate rain forest. With ready access to fresh rainwater, sustainable hydropower, and prime growing conditions, BC bud growers don’t need much to grow great weed, which we’ll explore in the next section. 

The Perfect Climate For Growing Cannabis

Similar to the California Emerald Triangle, the climate of the BC area is extremely mild and conducive to the cannabis business. The temperatures are among the mildest across all of Canada, and the soil of the Kootenay valley is more fertile and healthy than even that of the Emerald Triangle.

The BC area also enjoys a much more steady supply of rain, which is sometimes a problem for those in California. 

Even though the BC region may get a dry spell periodically, they don’t have anywhere near the drought risk that California deals with every other year or so.

Inexpensive Power

Of the few limitations that people who grow in the Emerald Tringle deal with, perhaps one of the most limiting is the cost and availability of power in the area. This led to cannabis production and development that was relatively limited by the seasons.

Quite the opposite is true for the BC region, which enjoys cheap and plentiful power from the many hydropower facilities.  This massive hydro component, fostered indoor gardens when outdoor growing was restricted seasonally, allowing for year-round creation.

Natural Protection and Privacy

420 Vancouver

The people of BC enjoy a local topography that gives them a naturally protected area to grow cannabis. The Emerald Triangle has a similar environment, just much smaller. 

The drug war that the US waged on its citizens for years, led to the Emerald Triangle being a frequent target for raids. Even though Humboldt county’s local residents would stay quiet, there is still a long history of police action in the area.

The sheer difference in the size of Humboldt county or Mendocino county for example, and the province of BC, means that the entire region is going to be a better place to grow marijuana. While their counterparts in rural California would get raided and jailed routinely for the use or production of marijuana products, cannabis cultivation in BC was not a frequent target of police or provincial task forces.

Additionally, the province has also traditionally turned a blind eye towards cannabis cultivation and consumption. Vancouver, the biggest city in the province, has hosted an annual 4/20 celebration for the past two decades. The protest-turned-festival attracts thousands of cannabis consumers, growers, and experts from around the world, even when cannabis was still illegal! 

For more information on BC’s attitude towards weed, check out our write-up on Cannabis Day!

The Proof is in the Pot

At the end of the day, when you need to really drill down to what is the deciding factor, there isn’t just one single thing that makes BC bud better, but cannabis professionals from around the world have judged it among the best in the world, repeatedly.

Cultivators from the Calfornia Emerald Triangle are doing great work, but they haven’t been blessed with the same resources as BC artisans. 

At Cannabismo, we’ve collaborated with British Colombian legacy growers for decades, and are proud to continue doing so.

All of our cannabis flower is grown fresh in the province and delivered straight to you, the consumer, to ensure that the quality, potency, and terpene profile of your weed is as great as it can be. 

We love Canadian cannabis and we love helping our fellow Canadians gain easy, cheap, and quick access to it! We hope this article has given you some insight on both the American and Canadian sides of cannabis cultivation and helps you make a more informed purchase!

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