The world of Marijuana is changing. There is fear of the Mega-warehouse business-farmer taking over. There is fear of places like Orange County and San Diego jumping into the Pot game with venture capitalists having deep pockets that seem never ending when it comes to the Green Rush. This change has the average Pothead crying, “Wal-Mart is here! Wal-Mart is here!”
It is also changing how we get our pot. The days of meeting in alleys and in parking lots are over. Going to your dealers, hanging, smoking, until next week when you repeat the same process. Now, many of us get our pot from dispensaries, at least here in California.
What hasn’t changed is… someone has to grow it.
While warehouse pot is just now getting off the ground, the Mendo-Humboldt area has been cultivating Cannabis for more than fifty years. They know a little about growing weed.
Proposition 19 brought out the best and worst of our Pot Generation. While many tended the fields, pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and spreading the message, others bemoan the movement. I do not fault those that found Prop.19 lacking. I could only agree with that assessment. But to attack those who live and sometimes die by the weed, I’m shocked by people’s outrage.
Yesterday I wrote about some growers who were voting against Prop.19. And yes, I stated they did it for business reasons. But I want to be clear that business up in what is commonly referred to as the Emerald Triangle, is not the same as business elsewhere.
I could safely say that eighty percent of the growers I know give part of their crop back to their community in one form or another. I know a few who give ten percent like the Bible says you should. In previous columns I’ve talked about the ‘Pencil Patch’ and the others like it I saw in Humboldt. The Pencil Patch is a grow whose profits are set aside for the schools of Humboldt. There are also dedicated grows or gardens that are set up for community needs with profits from their crop going to civic causes like rec-centers and crazy enough, fire trucks.
I know two growers personally who’ve set up an education fund with the money they’ve made from growing. They’ve sent four kids, who otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance, to college; this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for a couple of grows off of North 101.
Tim Blake, who I had interviewed for yesterday’s piece, had just recently donated to a local program that was hurting and needed help to get it right.
The communities of Humboldt and Mendocino and the others that make up the Triangle are somewhat isolated and operate by a different set of rules. This has been the way it’s been since the first L.B. was brought down to San Francisco.
While the passage of Proposition 215 changed the game dramatically, growers still played by the same general rules as before, only more open and transparent. Well, some did. Others still grow where they can and how they can. That’s what it means to be a grower. To take chances.
Last week a woman in Ukiah shot and killed an intruder who thought he might take a short cut to getting some weed. Home invasions are up and the creeps doing it are as sophisticated as the cops who chase them. The bad guys are using night-vision goggles. Glocks and machine guns are standard. Growers all have dogs. These are the first to go, whether by the bad guys or the cops who might raid an illegal grow.
Then there’s mold and fungus. A whole crop can die in an afternoon if you’re not careful. And then there’s the partners that get greedy with dollar-dreams and steal the crop in the middle of the night.
Trimmers. Some are good and work quick and honest. Others are opportunists who are there to rip-off you off and take what they can. I can’t imagine what it is like to let someone into your home and trust them not to bring down the operation. If something went wrong, you could lose the roughly eighty to one hundred grand that you’ve invested into your business.
And that’s just the half of it.
There’s family shit. The product gets in the way of doing regular stuff. From harvest to buds-in-the-bag, it is non-stop work. Between drying, trimming, bagging and counting, you can easily put in a sixteen hour day. Forget the family picnics.
And then you have to get it to market without getting busted or ambushed.
And now in 2010, the dispensaries are king. They control the prices in California, not the growers. Now, they just grow the stuff. In some places, the kids don’t mind that their weed isn’t organic and has been juiced indoors just to try to replicate that outdoor feel.
So if the growers in Humboldt and Mendocino seem self-serving, think again. They’re in the business for the long haul. They don’t set up a grow room and run. No, they live where they grow. They pay taxes where they grow. They defend their homes and fields where they grow.
They have different concerns than us. We care about getting our stuff. They care about getting stuff to us.
There are some very unscrupulous growers out there, for sure. But for the most part, most of the growers I’ve met are concerned about their families and communities and grow with that in mind. If half of them believe Proposition 19 was going to be bad for them, so be it, who are we to say? I’m not the one sitting up with a Glock to make sure my home is safe.
It is different up north. Life is hard but very rewarding for the right individual. Not everyone can live up there.
The Marijuana industry is changing. Let’s make sure we know who the real bad guys are before we start calling the growers greedy because some voted with their pocketbooks. Let’s not forget who has been getting us weed for these past five decades.
Let’s learn from Prop.19.
The first lesson: The enemy isn’t us.
Statewide with 92.9% reporting:
Yes 3,256,959 46.2%
No 3,783,190 53.8%
Lost by 7.6%
Humboldt County with 97.71% reporting:
Yes 17,702 46.8%
No 20,130 53.2%
Lost by 6.4%
Mendocino County with 100% reporting
Yes 9315 47%
No 10,503 53%
Lost by 6%
Lost by almost 20%