The Emerald Triangle to be Included in First-Ever Economic Study of Nor. Cal.'s Cannabis Industry

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

Humboldt Community Business Development Center to establish economic impact study through grant from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control


Economist Robert Eyler of Sonoma State University to Lead Research in Partnership with the California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University


Eureka, CA Northern California’s cannabis industry will become the focus of a pioneering study examining the economic impact of industry upon the region. The Humboldt Community Business Development Center (HCBDC), has partnered with the California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University, and Sonoma State University for a comprehensive look into the impact of cannabis farming, manufacturing, and retail sales on the overall economy of a research area which includes the legendary Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties). The HCBDC will develop the study through a grant from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.


“It is widely understood that cannabis is a significant economic driver in rural northern California, yet four years into the regulation, legalization, and taxation of California’s cannabis industry we still do not have real, data-driven research and analysis on what is the true economic impact of the cannabis industry,” says Natalynne DeLapp, HCBDC Executive Director. “This grant will provide resources to answer long-standing questions, will help establish a baseline by which to measure the economic health of the cannabis industry, and by which public policies can be evaluated for efficacy for years to come.”


A chief cash crop in the area for decades, there has never been a thorough analysis of the role of cannabis to the local economy of rural Northern California. The study which also encompasses Del Norte and Sonoma counties will begin to harvest data in early 2021 on such issues as the impact of cannabis on the private and the public sectors, cannabis prices on the licensed and unlicensed markets, job creation, and taxes and government and administrative costs. Some of the questions this study will seek to address include:


  • How much cannabis is produced by the North Coast cannabis community?

  • How much is the region contributing to California’s GDP?

  • How long have businesses been in the community and how much do they contribute to state and local taxes?

  • How many people are employed; how much is paid in wages?

  • How much are cannabis businesses paying in licenses, permits, and fees?


“This proposal helps policymakers, advocates, private business, and local residents understand the economics and business aspects of the cannabis business as a combination of agriculture and manufacturing with supply-chain partners to deliver goods to retail and customers,” says economics professor Robert Eyler, Dean of Sonoma State University’s School of Extended and International Education, who will be leading the study. “This framing gets us away from the conversation of illegality and about how these businesses (similar to the wine or craft brew industries) harvest a crop that becomes a manufactured product.”


"For decades, rural northern California counties have incorporated the cannabis economy as an unplanned economic development strategy. This research will help these jurisdictions formulate long-term strategies to incorporate a significant, previously illegible, sector of their economies into a more sustainable, resilient future for their communities," says Dominic Corva, Co-Director, Humboldt Interdisciplinary Institute for Marijuana Research (HIIMR), Humboldt State University.


About HCBDC

The mission of the Humboldt Community Business Development Center (HCBDC) is to increase prosperity in Humboldt County by supporting the development of Humboldt County alternative agriculture businesses and communities through education, economic, social, and environmental protection and development. HCBDC is powered by Humboldt County Growers Alliance, the trade association that represents and advocates for Humboldt County cannabis operators.

Recent Posts

See All

2021 HCGA Policy Strategic Plan

2020 was a challenging year for cannabis policy, with initially promising conversations on tax reform and other issues largely derailed by the COVID crisis. Despite these obstacles, however, HCGA was

Humboldt Pioneers Cannabis Micro-Grants

Harvest is over for the year and Lorelie Sandomeno surveys her farm. At 2500’ elevation in the northeastern mountains of Humboldt County, Sunrise Mountain Farms is bordered by national forest and surr

MEMBERSHIP  |  ABOUT HCGA  |  WHAT WE DO  |  EVENTS  |  NEWS + UPDATES  |  CONTACT US

Cell:  707-599-6670

427 F Street, Suite 213

Eureka, CA 95501

The Humboldt County Growers Alliance is a California mutual benefit, not-for-profit, trade association that is funded and owned by, and for its members

(EIN #82-0658286).