International Cannabis Business Conference

Netflix Review: 'Murder Mountain' Set in Humboldt County

Security guards with rifles patrol "Murder Mountain" in California’s Humboldt County.

Ugly secrets of California's Humboldt County, where rival pot growers and sellers commit crimes beyond breaking the marijuana laws, are revealed in the six-part Netflix series Murder Mountain

Dating back to 2012, when pot was still prohibited in the Golden State, the show chronicles a series of deaths that occurred in the Alderpoint area, a.k.a. "Murder Mountain," and have never been solved. 

It's a real sleazy scene. The "mountain" is scarred with trashed vehicles and garbage everywhere and is described as an autonomous zone controlled by cultivators and patrolled by guards with rifles on their backs, like a Mexican drug cartel .

Yes, it's shocking, but this is nothing new. Humboldt and the surrounding counties that comprise the so-called "Emerald Traingle" have long been home to anarchist growers who were known to set booby traps and be fully armed. T. Coraghessan Boyle perfectly captured the chaos in his terrific 1984 novel Budding Prospects.

After years of goverment oppression and helipcopters strafing the area seeking grow-ops, the locals were hoping for a break with legalization, but high buy-in fees and a maze of regulations are forcing longtime cultivators to stay outside the new economy and hence keep the black market going.

This is the backdrop to a story about a surfer dude from San Diego named Garret Rodriquez who came to Humboldt seeking great cannabis and quick money. The dream ends when he disappears and is subsequently found dead. Locals track down the killer, but law enforcement is more concerned about the posse that found the suspect and shot him in the knee.

While Murder Mountain might be good TV, it casts a pall on the famous grow region, which the show claims produces 60% of the marijuana in America (this can't be true). It also makes marijuana users and growers look bad. But the best thing about the show is it validates the need for a legal structure and an end to the cowboy culture that results in such unnecessary deaths.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, editor-in-chief of Freedom Leaf, co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness, and the former editor of High Times.