Pot-farming wasn't originally part of the Hesslers' plan. "We are the people who started this industry. There was nobody growing weed. There was nobody here, Marcus. Every piece of land was for sale," Tom says.
"You could've bought the whole mountain for 100 bucks," Lemonis jests, and Tom replies that you actually could have for just $36,000.
"Today it'd be $36 million," the host then speculates.
As some of the earliest growers in the region, the Hesslers helped establish Humboldt as what Lemonis calls the "pot capital of the U.S." More farms gradually sprung up in the region through the '70s. By the '80s, Humboldt's economy was "riding high, as Lemonis puts it, as the region supplied cities throughout the U.S.
It is not an easy business to be in, though. Farmers have faced the constant threat of crackdown from law enforcement, which persisted even after medical marijuana was legalized in Calif. with Proposition 215 in 1996.
The Hesslers' children, Nya and Elan, recall constantly wondering whether their parents were going to be arrested as they grew up.
"Certain kids in school you avoided because, like, their dad was a sheriff," says Nya, who recounts an incident where he was chased for 45 minutes by a helicopter through the woods by their property. "I just finally just stopped and sat there and waited, and then they finally just flew off."
Lemonis interviews another Humboldt County grower who wasn't so lucky. In his twenties, with no prior criminal record, Johnny Casali was caught growing 1500 marijuana plants. "I woke up at 6 o'clock in the morning. Thirty federal agents showed up at my door, guns to my head," he says. He served nearly eight years in prison.