Netflix explores the darkest parts of California's cannabis black market with its new docu-series "Murder Mountain" and we chatted with the locals to get their take on the show.
"Murder Mountain," one of Netflix's newest releases, took cannabis country by storm when it dropped between Christmas and New Year's Eve. On the hillsides of the Emerald Triangle, opinions about the show vary. While undeniably an accurate telling of a particular series of events, how accurately has it captured the community as a whole?
Well, that depends who you ask.
It All Started With a (Crazy) True Story
Some believe the series knocked it out of the ballpark in covering recent history on the mountains of the world-famous cannabis growing region known as the Emerald Triangle. Others believe things were a bit overdramatized to bump the mystique of outlaw culture up a notch. Regardless, the tale of what happened to Garrett Rodriquez and following his disappearance is insane without any embellishment.
The show uses multiple perspectives to follow what happened when Rodriquez, who traveled to the region in the hopes of joining the cannabis industry, disappeared in 2013. Those takes include that of the community he disappeared from in Alderpoint, the private investigators who have spent years on the case and the sheriff's department which claims its hands are tied despite an admission of guilt.
But apart from telling the tale of the Rodriguez disappearance, "Murder Mountain" also paints a picture of how a place where something like Rodriguez's disapperance could occur. John Harden of the Lost Coast Outpost gave his take when the show originally aired on Fusion a couple months back before being released on Netflix.
"The Garrett Rodriquez story really is dramatic, and I'm sure they tell it dramatically in the series, but I don't think they exaggerate the story. They don't have to. The truth is dramatic enough," Harden argued.
Harden also said that anytime outside media cover the darker side of things locally, it's quickly called "sensationalized" whether it provides an honest window into what's going on or not.
"On the contrary, I think we have, as a community, become desensitized to the crazy sh*t that really goes down here. We've learned to look the other way or dismiss it as normal business as usual. I'm actually glad for this new series because I always wondered about that case," he said.
Humboldt? Not So Much
Some of the locals noted while it may have been framed as a Humboldt tale, Alderpoint is close to the heart of the Emerald Triangle where the counties of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity intersect. When traveling east to northern parts of Mendocino or Southern Humboldt, much of the travel could likely be on Alderpoint Road.
Eventually, Alderpoint Road converges on a three-way cutoff with Bell Springs Road and Island Mountain Road.
"Island Mountain is the epicenter of the Emerald Triangle," one long-time Mendocino farmer who asked not to be named told Cannabis Now. "Island Mountain is Murder Mountain. It is the triangle. It is the point of three counties meeting. There is a van out there with a triangle on it, shot the f*ck up. And that van signifies the point of where the three counties meet."
The grower noted a bust a few years back where authorities brought five wood chippers out to deal with the plants they needed to destroy on 20 farms up on Island Mountain Road.
Another cultivator born and raised in the area who also asked not to be identified thought the show took liberties with what really goes on in the region.
"Everything from the point of view to the over dramatization of isolated incidents and the implications that it's consistent with the geography. It's just not true. The most dangerous part about that mountain has and always will be federal intervention," he said.
On the Mark About the Black Market
The second cultivator we spoke with also believes the wider black market issues at play are being placed directly on the cultivators in the area, especially violence happening in transit.
"No big farmer is trying to bust any moves that will f*ck up his hustle," he said. He also agreed with our professional opinion that the show attempted to make Alderpoint sound even more of an outlaw territory by pretending nobody else went for permits besides The Humboldt Cure.
In regards to that permitting question, we reached out to former California Growers Association Executive Director Hezekiah Allen and asked him if he'd done outreach in the area in the years leading up to legalization. Allen said that while he did know a lot of people up that way who had attempted or are taking part in the permit process, nothing about how it was presented was offensively false.
Overall, we agree with that statement — "Murder Mountain" is largely inoffensive, and pretty entertaining, despite whatever liberties it may take.
TELL US, have you watched "Murder Mountain" yet?
This article first appeared in Cannabis Now.
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