If you’re a regular cannabis consumer or evenly remotely interested in the cannabis business, Netflix’s Murder Mountain is a must-watch. At around 45 minutes an episode, this 6-part series explores the case of 29-year-old missing person, Garret Rodriguez. After finding a job in the medical marijuana fields in Northern California, Rodriguez heads to Humboldt where the events unfold.
Humboldt County produces over 60 percent of the marijuana that’s grown in the United States. Murder Mountain explores the area known as the “Emerald Triangle” where thousands of cannabis grows exist in the remote redwood forests. The series dives deep into the cannabis farming community and its, sometimes, violent and dark side.
What’s Murder Mountain?
Murder Mountain refers to the specific area in southern Humboldt known as Rancho Sequoia. What began as a remote paradise for hippie growers looking to escape materialism in the 1960s turned into a marijuana farm capital. Rancho Sequoia received the Murder Mountain moniker after a serial killer couple, Suzan Carson and Michael Carson, were found responsible for a string of murders in the area.
Humboldt County as a whole, however, faces a similar negative stigma due to it having the highest rate of missing persons reports and gun deaths in California. Netflix uses dramatic reenactments along with interviews with local residents, farmers, and law enforcement officials to showcase the unique troubles facing Humboldt’s marijuana community.
Marijuana’s Wild West
Many local growers don’t have permits to grow and are scared to contact law enforcement when something goes wrong. Rodriguez’s dad felt the hopelessness of the situation when he went to police to file a missing persons report. Due to the overwhelming amount of missing persons reports, Rodriguez case wasn’t given the amount of attention it needed by law enforcement.
The docuseries highlights how government-funded programs to destroy marijuana fields in the 1980s created a tense and jarring environment for not just growers, but also local families that didn’t have anything to do with the marijuana business. Since growers could easily hide their weed in the remote hills, many of them were making a lot of money and using their own brand of vigilante justice to avoid having to deal with police.
Outlaws Find Justice
Murder Mountain illuminates viewers about the unique ways that local residents took matters into their own hands. Friends of Rodriguez heard rumors that a local resident was responsible for the death of Garret Rodriguez. Through a series of intimidation tactics and strong-arming the suspect, the “Alderman 8,” got a confession from the suspected killer and the location of Rodriguez’s body. Although viewers might that at this point it’s a closed case, local law enforcement is seen as dismissive and unwilling or unable to act on valuable information relating to the arrest of Rodriguez’s murderer.
The 6-part docuseries does a good job of showing the history of Humboldt county’s marijuana farms and the effect that prohibition had on this area. The documentary also presented a colorful portrayal of how marijuana legalization has hurt small farmers and enabled big business and black market grows to drive out farmers that have been in the area way before legalization and the green rush. If you’re in the mood for a weed-themed true crime documentary, Murder Mountain should be on your “to-watch” list.