testimonial from a formerly underground weed commerce worker
reposted from Amanda Pemberton aka Apneatic
(originally on her Instagram @apneatic)
Yesterday was 4.20 🌬I was given this shirt in 2012 by a vendor when I worked at a dispensary for 3 weeks in Seattle. When Chase and I were making @wmrtwo we ran out of money from our investor during post production and I had to move to Seattle and grow medical marijuana to finish funding our movie. I went and worked at a dispensary to make sure I was completing my first grow cycle properly. This was back when I could sell my hydro flower for $240/oz or $640/qp at farmers markets around Washington state. I got out of it soon after weed was made recreationally legal and the prices growers could get dropped really fast. But we got all the money we needed for our movie so I quit growing and selling it. Then I moved to Portland to study physics 🌈 instant photo of me studying organic chemistry by @tmronin
“FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR PEOPLE NEW TO CANNABIS”
What’s the difference between cannabis, marijuana, flower and weed?
Nothing! These words are interchangeable, but cannabis is the scientific term. Marijuana, flower, and weed are all used in a variety of conversational situations to refer to cannabis.
Where can I smoke?
Marijuana must be consumed in a private place. Smoking, eating or otherwise using marijuana in public is still illegal.
Is marijuana lab tested?
Testing will be required starting Jan 1, 2018 for any cannabis harvested on/after Jan. 1 or any cannabis product manufactured on/after Jan 1.
I don’t want to get high, but want to use cannabis medicinally, what should I look for?
CBD is a popular option for those looking to get the medical benefits of cannabis without the high. CBD products are available in most cannabis product types, from vape cartridges to topicals.
I don’t want to inhale smoke, but want to enjoy a cannabis high, what should I try?
Vape pens, edibles, drinks and tinctures are a great way to enjoy the benefits of cannabis without smoking.
Can I walk into a dispensary on Jan. 1, 2018 and buy marijuana?
Yes, if you’re 21 or 18 you can access cannabis recreationally or medically, respectively. Keep in mind, however, that while marijuana is legal for adults in the state of California, local counties and municipalities also have their own set of rules that regulate how retail businesses operate.
Can I still get Medical Cannabis?
Yes, if you’re over the age of 18 physicians may still recommend medical cannabis. Depending upon the condition, people under 18 can obtain a recommendation with their parent or guardian’s permission. California medical patients will need to obtain an ID card issued by the Department of Health.
This is Maine. I am used to this scene. Here, there are the usual things you see at a cannabis gathering. Tables with vendors, glassy eyes, flat brims, glass art, and the haze. The air is a heavy heady blue from the expelled vapors of concentrated cannabis extracts and the sound of butane torches hissing punctuates the music with an asymmetric rhythm. Click, Click, Click hiss. No one can dab along with the refrain. But, this time, in this space I made a change. I brought old healers and drums. We are coming back.
Medical marijuana is an industry, with conventions, events, and a lot of cash flow. When you attend cannabis events there are light set ups, meters for everything you could measure, soil amendments, and a lot of men. A lot. This is a modern condition. If you sit for a second with any cannabis enthusiast you know that medical marijuana is old. But the real medicine, the old medicine, is not being administered. The old healers are not the hustling, bustling, click click click hiss guys I have been sitting with these last few years. The old healers looked like me. They were magic. They felt the medicine intensely, like they felt the world, and that is how ailments were treated, and wars were started. Shamanic medicine is performed for the sick for healing and the warriors for fighting. There’s no click click click hiss with the old healers. There’s the old drumming refrains, that have been passed down. The old drumming language doom doom tek brings the beat back. [Doom and tek are the two main sounds of drumming: Doom is the deep resonant sound of hitting the center of the drum and the tek is the staccato tap of the outside edge. It’s drumming language so it is kind of code.]
I’ve been in the industry a short time. I am coming into my third season of a perpetual grow operation, so that is three outdoor harvests. I have a large commercial greenhouse for growing in the warm seasons, and two indoor rooms – one for vegetative state plants and the other for flowering plants. Maine law allows caregivers five patients and thirty adult plants. My husband just became a caregiver this year so our farm usually has sixty adult plants. My husband is the face of our farm. I didn’t ever want to attend events or social groups. I started out growing wanting to sit with my patients and no one else. My first cannabis event was Harry’s Green Love Festival two summers ago, up in Starks, Maine. I am grateful for my husband’s wisdom in showing me cannabis culture first through the lens of Harry Brown’s farm. It was an open and excepting space. Free love was about, but so was consent, and respect. I saw there the Sativa Sisters with their cannabis salves, The Barefoot Truth Dancers women freestyle belly dancers, and the Blue Haired Vagina Lady is the master of ceremonies on the hill. All those women were doing their work, not just standing alongside their male partners. I had peers, but there was still surprise when my husband told people I was a caregiver and he was the patient. Even on the hill, with the hillcats – Harry’s loyal festival attendees, away from the pharmaceuticals and those white-frocked pushers, there was still the click click click hiss of the modern marijuana hustle. And it was still off beat.
I have been to other events, where I was not allowed into sections where seeds were being sold, because I am a grower not a patient. “My family has been working on this soil for five generations!” The man was weaving back and forth slurring. My daughter and I were pitched at last year’s Emerald Cup, at ten o’clock in the morning, by the most drunken bro I had ever encountered. I used to work security at a sports bar. He was standing directly in our path as we were walking through the vending spaces for non-patients. We both did what women do when confronted with what may be a threat, in a space where we are not sure if we are safe. I payed him attention, arched my neck in feigned interest. My daughter nodded and smiled. I asked follow up questions while stepping forward, putting my body between him and my daughter, and used my space to herd him back to his table.
Intoxication is not medicine, it’s not safe, it’s for inflating bravery and fighting a war. I do not want to make war with my medicine. I think the only reason the vendor tried to sell to us was his inebriation, because my experience at most vendors tables is that they are not trying to sell me their light set ups, soil amendments, growing supplies. They offer me trinkets, necklaces, t-shirts and devices to make cleaning up after a grower easier. There is no reason for the way the industry treats women. It’s hippy love that their are slinging, so we should not feel threatened or disempowered. Fuck, they always miss the beat.
I work hard to promote marijuana as medicine. At the small town meetings I go to there is always a man talking. Not well, but with enough authority to hold attention, the room, space. “Cannabis put my Crohn’s disease into recession. It is not heroine. Children with epilepsy are decreasing their seizures from 200 a day to none. Those kids have a life – they are going to school.” People have concerns, the concerned citizens have questions, and not all the answers may come from the guy in the room who has been growing the longest. Here in Maine growers are your neighbor that you did not know had lights on in his cellar, attic, or shed. And patients are old folks that you wave to from your dooryard. You knock on their door when you can’t find your cat. But you still would not know they are treating their cancer, a back injury, chronic mental illness. The concerned citizens are asking about safety and preserving our way of life. The oldest grower in town, the man talking, is singing the cannabis allelujah chorus, but he can’t find the refrain. He’s not got any rhythm. He’s busy with the click click click hiss and misses the balance of the doom tek, and the room can feel it. They are asking to feel safe.
When I talk of marijuana as medicine, I do not forget the old healing. The place where the barefoot truth comes from. If you go visit the Ayahuasca healers still practicing old medicine in the jungle of Peru, they will tell you that medicine is for healing, but it is also for war. Modern people, like Lindsay Lohan, go to the jungle to cure their ennui. It works, but people die there. Kyle Joseph Nolan did. Any medicine can heal, we remember, but it can harm as well. And that we like to forget. Medicine in the wrong body destroys the body. Medicine in the wrong community destroys the community. The citizens’ concerns are valid. They are not calmed by the effectiveness proven by case studies. They are talking about our community, and how it may change if medical marijuana becomes recreational. They can hear the beat of an old drum. People are coming from away, California, Colorado, Oregon, and they want to practice old medicine in their new way. Yes no one has died taking cannabis, but their communities changed. The small town Mainers can hear the dissonance, every missed beat, in the allelujah chorus.
There was a vacuum of knowledge back when the Hearst Company saw hemp as a threat to their paper empire. The rhetoric of cannabis prohibition was compounded by the propaganda from modern medicine that was pushing the traditional healer out of the family and replacing it with a doctor that you saw in the hospital. Hearst and the AMA were not the catalysts in the war against traditional healing they were the death knell. Before we became civilized the craziest crone was the woman you went to see for healing. Old women, who heard voices, felt the world and their patients’ place in it, were not nuts. They were sensitive and travelled the same roads her patients suffered along but felt the ailments and the harm more deeply. They were magic, shamanistic healers. We started burning those women when we left animist pagan worship for the church. Usually, those women were politically powerful, owned property, and their persecutions were aimed at taking that power and property away. That is when the the knowledge of healing got sucked into obscurity. When women asked for their power back, for the vote they were stuffed into asylums and force fed. A few decades ago restless women were just bored housewives hopped up on mommy’s helpers. Now we tell people like me that we have anxiety, depression, P.T.S.D. Cannabis can help us, and others like us. We have access to it again. We are coming back to cannabis. Women like me. I see us here dancing to the old beat doom doom tek.
[The women are from folklore but are documented in things like “the Crucible.” Joan of Arch is a good example of Christian mystical warrior type stuff. There is some documentation of magical healing like with the Hehe of East Africa, where the male chiefs are not as powerful as their majickal healing mothers, but to discuss those people and that history would take way more than 1000 words.]
A Peek Into The Drama Of Northern California’s Booming Cannabis Economy
by Josh Chmberlain
[Editor’s Note: Sometime around early-to-mid 2011 Josh became harder to find in the neighborhood of Ocean Beach, San Diego. It was about this time that he hooked up with a merry band of Burners (Burning Man hipsters) that were part of a weed grooming crew employed by Northern California cannabis farmers. This is his story.
Josh is in his mid-thirties, about 6-foot-four, 280 pounds or so, and has shown he knows how to handle himself in a fight against more than one skinhead at a time. Don’t try this at home.]
When I went to Northern California it was to trim weed. A twelve-hour drive for two months of well-paid work while camping in the woods during the wet and cold season. Trim camps vary in the way they do things, take care of you, and hopefully, pay you at the end. I was about to endure a few extreme examples of this but first let me tell you a bit about myself before changing the names of the persons involved.
I was born in 1981 as the middle child in a family of five consisting of my dad, my mom, an older and a younger brother, both three years apart from me. For the most part I was grown in Ocean Beach. I learned to surf as soon as I could walk but didn’t jive with the aggressively territorial nature of most of the other locals so I grew weary as soon as I was old enough to understand such things. I sold psychedelics at school, mainly acid and pot, until I was kicked out and then eventually I was given the boot from my home as well. After various R.T.F.’s (residential treatment facilities) and stays and juvenile hall, I tried my hand at freight train riding and squatting for the next few years. I mainly stayed on the West Coast with the exception of Arizona. A lot of my friends rode out to the East Coast and hopped around out there but I don’t regret not following them. From what I understand it was just more of the same. Nope, I stayed out here and developed a nice little opiate habit along the way. This phase took a while to get over. I still struggle with the drug part. It wasn’t till I found Burning Man that I would snap out of it.
The Burning of The Man and other desert parties became (and still is) a surprisingly healthy way of life for me. It embodies a very strong sense of community made up of active, loving, creative people. In this dark time of my life, it was just the right spark of self-worth and love of beauty that I needed to get me out of my funk. I was doing very well for a few years until my father passed away very suddenly. When I relapsed I had a huge circle of very supportive friends who got me a gig up north and out of the city, away from all things familiar, to do some soul-searching and to make a lot of much needed money.
This brings me back to our short story I’m writing of weed and solitude. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing the day we headed out. All I knew was that my friend, let’s call him Joe for the sake of anonymity, grew weed and that my other friend, let’s call him Pig-Fucker, and I were going up to help.
On a typical trim scene people manicure at least a pound a day because the average pay rate is $200 a pound and as long as your not slacking off, trimming a pound shouldn’t be a problem. Everyone stays for about two to three months, trimming every day, and some people go on to other trim scenes and keep working for the next several months. Enough weed is grown up there that as long as you are good at networking you can keep this up indefinitely. People only really stop because the work is very tedious and after a few months most really need a break, especially because you’re camping the whole time.
This industry brings a solid economy to otherwise desolate mountain towns. Lots of mom’n’pop restaurants and retail stores have plenty of business all year long because of all the growers that live there. All the locals know this and that’s why even the most right-wing conservative nut jobs shut the fuck up and let people grow. Shit, a lot of these farmers are conservative themselves. You’d think our government would want in on this wouldn’t you? I digress.
So Joe drives us from San Diego up to a property he co-owns just outside of Redding. We got there around midnight, set up camp, and went to sleep. The next couple days blew. This was my first day waking up without opiates in almost a year. I won’t gross you out with too many details but let’s just say I had the flu times ten. This normally lasts anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on the severity of your habit but for some reason (I have theories) when you’re in the middle of nowhere, away from everything you know, you don’t get as sick and you recover faster. I think this is because without any chance of getting more opiates the mental part of withdrawal, which translates largely into the physical, ceases to be. I have experienced this several other times while in jail. Between other addicts I have talked to and my own experience, I have concluded that this is in facts a thing, although no one really seems to know why.
Anyway, it takes about three to four days to get out of bed and start work. The landscape is very beautiful. The dirt a rich blood orange color speckled with sparking quartz crystal. Deep red Manzinita contrasted by their forest green leaves. White oak stood here and there adorned with minty green Usnea moss. A myriad of caterpillars wriggled and swung in the breeze from silk with a rainbow shimmer from the morning sun. Juxtaposed in the center of all this nature was the fence — a crude mesh of chicken wire and chain link with a barbed wire crown-keeping rodents, deer, and human alike at bay so the beautiful green and purple ladies within could grow undisturbed.
The cute, fat, little caterpillars were a huge problem for the grow. They would swing down on their rainbow filaments like little cat burglars from the oak trees right onto the ganja plants and burrow their way to the center of a kola — the main buds on the top of each branch — and feast. Even though they were big enough to be visible, they would go unnoticed initially because they were inside the kola which could be anywhere from three to ten inches in diameter. Once they’re inside and start to eat it’s too late because everything above them dies. Some of these kola’s are over an ounce so losing even one can be very expensive.
To remedy this problem, we’d have to go to each individual kola and, very thoroughly, go through them bending and examining each one from every angle, making sure that the camouflaged little fuckers weren’t hiding out, filling their tiny bellies with our cannabis. This garden, like many others, was home to ninety-nine plants. Most weed gardens have no more than ninety-nine plants because that is the maximum number a collective can grow. According to federal law, anything over ninety-nine will get you a mandatory five years in federal prison. So everyone just grows ninety-nine. No more, sometimes less. That many plants at an average of twenty-five to thirty kola’s a plant, made this work extremely monotonous and it took forever.
When we weren’t doing this for hours at a time we were shaking rain water off of all the plants to make sure none of the limbs broke. This would also cut down on mold. Because of the size and weight of the kolas, a little extra rain water would be just enough to make them break and when they did, it usually meant a few hundred dollars. That little extra moister could cause the inside of the bigger koalas to mold as well. So, we’d shake them after and during the rain and when there was too much weight in weed on these flimsy branches, we’d tie them up with string or green tape. I know I’m repeating myself but just to reiterate, this all take lots of time and the work is all very tedious and intricate.
This goes on for about two weeks. Then one night the person Joe co-owned the property with (lots of southern-Cali residents would describe him as a “bro”: lots of dumb tattoos, SRH brand clothing, probably listens to nothing but Sublime, homophobic, racist, calls people “bro”, ect.) comes down to write up an agreement which he and Joe co-signed. The next morning me, Joe’s brother, Pig-Fucker, and I were making breakfast while Joe was shitting in the woods. We were just serving ourselves when the co-owner of the land comes down looking for Joe. We told him Joe was currently indisposed and that we’d let him know upon his return from his morning shit in the woods. The bro-looking man seemed satisfied and returned to the house. When Joe returned we informed him that the bro-lookin’ guy was looking for him. So Joe goes up to the house to see what’s up.
We’re all enjoying a delicious breakfast of soy-rizo, cheese and eggs when we hear yelling and screaming. Joe’s brother, let’s call him Nate, and I grab three-foot pieces of re-bar and Pig-fucker decides to go unarmed as we start charging up to the house when we see Joe walking out from behind the house, standing from what must have been a slump, just in time to get his hat thrown at him by these yet-to-be-seen assailants. Me and Nate start sprinting toward him right when two cars pull up and seven bro-ish looking men with guns get out, have a group discussion out of ear reach, then all start walking toward us, maybe half pulling guns out. We slow down to a walk and drop our re-bar. We meet them half way up the hill and they tell us we have ten minutes to be out. None of us were down to be shot over weed so we started packing.
We knew that getting out in ten minutes wasn’t going to happen after building structures to stay dry for the next month or two but we decided not to try explaining this and rather just get to work.
We later heard what all the hubbub was about. Apparently Joe’s partner — the bro-ish figure — was married and his wife had just never come outside. This woman was eating breakfast one morning and looked out the window just in time to see Joe’s brother Nate taking a shit in the woods. With no restroom, defecating outside was necessary but doing it so close to the house was not. They were also upset because as they were already behind on their power bill, having yet another drain (us) on it was too much for them to bear apparently. So, instead of talking about it like anyone else might do, they jumped Joe to get out of the contract he had written and made him and us, his workers, leave at gun-point. This of course was devastating to Joe because half the crop was his and we didn’t even begin to harvest it. Even though he had lost his investment, he still tried to pay us for the two weeks of work we had done. I only accepted part of this because I really needed it but let him save most of it. Unlike me, Joe did have a wife and kid to support.
So we left that evening and started driving north-west. Luckily, Joe was from Trinity county so he was relatively well-connected. So when we left that evening we actually had somewhere to go. We drove up very windy, dangerous roads for about two hours till we got to his friend’s house. Joe left us in the driveway while he went to make sure it was cool for us to come in. Of course, he got stoned and forgot we were waiting. After waiting for about an hour we got out and walked up to the house to see what was up. I was pleasantly surprised to have three friends already there working for the rest of the season. I wasn’t sure if they would let me stay and work though and all I knew was that if I couldn’t find work there was no reason for me to be there freezing my ass off. The property owners at this place said we could stay and camp for a week to sort things out. Little did I know, this new beautiful property would become a home away from home for the next few years.
This is a teaser excerpt from a larger work to be printed in REVIEWER MAGAZINE that describes the drama behind-the-scenes and hard work of the Northern California marijuana growing industry, where the scene is perfect and the living is clean. Or is it? Stay tuned for more, sportsfans. ~Editor
So Joe drives us from San Diego up to a property just outside of Redding. We got there around midnight, set up camp, and went to sleep. The next couple days blew. This was my first day waking up without opiates in almost a year. I won’t gross you out with too many details but let’s just say I had the flu times ten. This normally lasts anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on the severity of your habit but for some reason (I have theories) when you’re in the middle of nowhere, away from everything you know, you don’t get as sick and you recover faster. I think this is because without any chance of getting more opiates the mental part of withdrawal — which translates largely into the physical — ceases to be. I have experienced this several other times while in jail. Between other addicts I have talked to and my own experience, I have concluded that this is in fact a thing, although no one really seems to know why. Anyway, it takes about three to four days to get out of bed and start work.
The landscape is beautiful. The dirt is a rich blood orange color speckled with sparking quartz crystal, blood-red Manzanita contrasted by their forest green leaves, White Oak stood here and there adorned with minty green Usnea moss. A myriad of caterpillars wriggled and swung in the breeze from silk with a rainbow shimmer from the morning sun. Juxtaposed in the center of all this nature was the fence — a crude mesh of chicken wire and chain link with a barbed wire crown for keeping rodents, deer and human alike at bay so the beautiful green and purple ladies within could grow undisturbed.
Read more soon…
Below: Marijuanaville photos provided by the author.