Go inside a huge California pot farm harvest
A cannabis bud finishes ripening at Harborside Farms in Salinas, Calif. The farm encountered constant setbacks this year, including late rains and late shipments of equipment — like fans.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Harborside CEO Stephen DeAngelo inspects ripe buds on the farm.
"We're learning, 'How do you do at scale for the first time'?" DeAngelo said. "A year from now compared to this — this will seem archaic." The process is yielding new solutions which will lead to new technology patents.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Cannabis ripens on the bud at Harborside. The dried cured flower buds are the most valuable part of the plant. Harborside cannabis is all Clean Green-certified pesticide free.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker cuts plants during a massive harvest in July — Harborside has three more harvests this year.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker cuts a cannabis plant at the base for transfer to processing. Harborside is on their third crop, after first starting to plant in summer of 2016.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Harborside Farms in the Salinas Valley of Monterey California supplies the Harborside dispensaries in Oakland and San Jose. Harborside has six greenhouses in production.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker (left) picks up marijuana leaves to dump into a cart while cleaning up the drying room during harvest. Cannabis is hang-dried for two weeks before being cured and packaged for sale.PHOTO: Liz Hafalia
A worker separates marijuana flowers and leaves off of a stalk during a harvest. Dozens of workers harvest from dawn until after dark to capture potent plant at peak ripeness.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker 'bucks' cannabis buds from branches during. Despite the farm's massive size, human hands do most of the work.PHOTO: Liz Hafalia
A worker puts marijuana plants through a 'bucking' machine which separates the flowers from the stems during harvest. The machine has proved less efficient than the farm hands, however.PHOTO: Liz Hafalia
A worker sweeps the floor of cannabis leaves after a full day of harvest at Harborside Farms.PHOTO: Liz Hafalia
Cannabis trim leaves are weighed for record-keeping; part of intense tracking in the legal system.
Even Harborside's plant leftovers — its trim — will be valuable in 2018 when regulations will mandate pesticide-free sources of oil.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker pulls a rack of cannabis plants through the drying room during harvest. Harborside hopes to use scale to chop the price of pot by two-thirds to $99 per ounce.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Cannabis plants are transferred into a massive drying room.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker hangs cannabis plants for drying.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Marijuana hangs in the very fragrant drying room at Harborside Farms in Salinas, Calif. — which has become an epicenter of cultivation in the post-prohibition economy.PHOTO: Liz Hafalia
California has a $21 billion cannabis industry, only tiny fraction of which (depicted) is inside the legal medical system. This drying room smelled amazing.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A Harborside worker shows off frozen cannabis in an industrial freezer. Most of the harvest will be "fresh-frozen" for later use in extracts.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
CEO Steve DeAngelo (center) puts a hamburger on an employee's plate during an employee appreciation lunch at Harborside Farms. The harvest marks their one year-anniversary, and is greater than their prior two harvests combined.PHOTO: Liz Hafalia
A worker collects cuttings for a new cycle of growth at Harborside Farms. Harborside grows from seed and clones from its own mothers.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Cuttings are planted in starter trays. Harborside has 343 total strains with 24 in production including Zkilltez, Gelato and six high cannabidiol strains. Also Slymer, GG4 and Durban. The farm also hunts for new varieties of strains to test and refine.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Workers tend to cuttings in the Harborside nursery.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
Harborside grows in two gallon coco coir containers.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
A worker pushes starter plants across a nursery greenhouse.
The farm runs year-round with supplemental light in the winter and light deprivation systems in the summer.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
"I don't know that I saw myself in American Gothic," DeAngelo said. The dispensary operator turned farmer walks past new construction on the farm.PHOTO: Gabrielle Lurie
California's $21 billion commercial cannabis industry begins to go legal on Jan. 1, 2018, when the state must issue first-ever licenses for farms, kitchens, labs and stores. But cannabis has been quasi-legal since 1996, thanks to medical marijuana. In this photo essay, we gathered never-before-seen images of this already robust economy. We also learned that what is considered large-scale or "industrial" for cannabis is, in fact, still hand-crafted and artisanal compared with modern agriculture and manufacturing. Even more than $1 billion in annual taxes, California cannabis is tens of thousands of good, high-paying, middle-class, local jobs that often do not require a college degree. As these photos show, pot’s not some theoretical addition to California's economic dynamism — it's here, it's now and it's got all the momentum.
Take a look around Harborside Farms, the first of four online mega-galleries on GreenState.
— David Downs