In a legal gray zone on the West Coast, growers bring in the fruits of their labor -- and try to stay out of jail
Ask a local about the great State of Jefferson and he or she will likely designate America's unrecognized 51st state by these geographical contours: the fertile area that stretches up from Humboldt County in Northern California and east through Lake County in Southern Oregon. Lassen Volcano, Crater Lake, and Mount Shasta number among its natural treasures.
Official flag and Wikipedia page notwithstanding, the State of Jefferson is an imaginary idyll, an unborn neverland, more a statement than a state. Its territory is mostly rural and its population comprises an uneven, sparsely concentrated spread of gun-loving citizen-farmers. According to some Jeffersonians, their state is also a God-graced agricultural empyrean where the best marijuana in the country is grown. Much like their plants, growers flourish in Jefferson, a peculiar area where a streak of libertarianism resists the government regulation of crops.
Mid-November in the State of Jefferson marks the end of the marijuana harvest. At the culmination of the harvest--six weeks' effort of picking buds from their towering stalks and drying them--the process now yields to trimming, a task to last all winter. In the spring, amendments are added and the soil is prepared once again. Over the course of a decade, the harvest has come to resemble a new version of the California grape crush of years past, stimulating the local economy during autumn months and drawing workers in for seasonal jobs. Novices learn the craft. A community builds. A demand is satisfied.