Concerned about the economics of legalization, Humboldt banker Jennifer Budwig studied the amount of pot money entering the local economy.
Using an extremely high estimate that law enforcement seized 25% of the total amount of pot grown in Humboldt, she found that the crop generated at least $1 billion a year — of which $415 million was spent in the county. She said the actual figure could be several times higher.
Legalization "has the potential to be devastating," she said.
Some small growers, like Anna and Andrew, still hold out hope that they can beat back the deluge of industrial marijuana.
There's a market, they say, for sun-grown weed among discerning users who appreciate the nuances of regional variety.
A grower just down the road said he hoped to start promoting "Mendocino terroir."
"How can sun-grown not be better medicine?" Anna asked. "If you're sick, you want something that has chemicals in it? You can't grow indoor organically. Not to mention the fossil fuels it burns up."
But even if boutique weed has some potential, the couple still sense that their life in the mountains is changing for good. The next-door neighbor recently had a home-invasion robbery, and a young man down the road was shot in the face during a deal.
Andrew goes back to planting the new crop. He used to have the radio on all day — something to engage his mind during the tedious work.
He doesn't anymore.
He keeps it quiet, listening for intruders.