CALIFORNIA: Except for traffic passing through on Highway 101, this northern Mendocino County city is relatively quiet much of the year. But for three months in the fall, it gets an influx of world travelers lured by marijuana-trimming jobs, temporarily swelling the town’s population of under 5,000 and instilling it with an international flavor.
They’re called trimmigrants and they are an integral part of the North Coast’s lucrative marijuana industry, estimated to be worth billions of dollars and widely considered to be a major economic driver in Mendocino and Humboldt counties. But, like the pot industry itself, reaction to their presence is mixed. The migrant workers contribute to the economy, but many effectively are homeless. Though the growers who employ them typically provide housing or a place to camp, when not working, they camp illegally in parks, alleys and along railroad tracks and rivers. Some can’t find jobs and turn to panhandling and frequenting food banks.
The annual march of migrant marijuana workers has occurred for years throughout the pot-rich North Coast, from Sonoma County to the Oregon border and beyond during the traditional fall cannabis harvest season, which runs roughly from mid-September through the end of November. The phenomenon has gained a worldwide reputation, and now draws an international crowd to rural places that are not on the usual tourist guide list.