Growing Up Green: Interviews with Children of Pot Growers

Preschooler with Pot

The controversy over marijuana extends into the family life of the grower.  Are the children safe?  Do they grow up drug addicted menaces to society? Are they traumatized by what they go through?  I recently did an article on this for Grow magazine and the piece just came out (though I haven’t yet been able to buy it locally.) I talked with forty year old women who had pot growing parents.  I spoke with three year old girls who excitedly explained how to tell when the cannabis flower is ready to harvest.

“They get bigger and bigger and then they get purple,” she explained seriously, her large eyes widening and her curls bouncing as she sat on her dad’s lap holding a handful of this year’s crop.

I interviewed older men who grew up in Humboldt and younger ones now raising children here in the business.  There are good memories told and bad.  There is one of each below the fold. And more in the magazine.

___________________________________________________________________________

The sweet memories outweigh the bad for most of the offspring–

Family bonds, as well as community ties, can benefit from the cannabis relationship.  Growers often have a sense of being inside a warm house while outside a storm rages—they have a feeling of working together against the outside world.  …  Megan, Anya’s mom, whose parents also grew, remembers the times she came home from school and “the girls,” as she calls the women who came to manicure the pot, were upstairs working with her mother. “[All the clippers] asked me questions about boyfriends and my day at school. I’d snuggle on the bed and they’d start talking….”  She smiles with remembered pleasure.  “I heard a lot of laughter.  It was a fun feeling” Then her smile widens to a wicked grin.  “They always had the good snacks.  Things we weren’t usually allowed to have, like chocolate.” Thus, marijuana in general and harvest especially comes to be closely associated with treats and festivities and a sense of community.

but the harsher ones (which apparently happened only rarely) are the ones we all can’t put out of our mind–they may have ended well but the possibilities are difficult for societies less tied to the Wild West mentality to assimilate—

Tom remembers clearly his dad shouting that a mini van had just dropped two guys off at what the family labeled “Rip-off corner.” “Hurry, get here right away,” he demanded.  Within a few minutes, Tom and his dad were following the tracks of the would-be thieves towards their “patch.”  In fact, according to Tom, “the whole community mobilized.”  Some of the neighborhood put up a roadblock in order to keep the driver from returning for the two thieves.  Others joined the chase on foot.

Soon the thieves were “pinned down [behind some bushes]…with people all around. So we started having fun with them—verbal torture…”   The two terrified robbers cowered behind whatever cover they could find while the community men folk described (falsely) how they had already killed the driver of the escape vehicle and were going to kill them.  Coincidentally, though, a drunken neighbor had driven over a cliff the same night and much to everyone’s dismay, a tow truck and a highway patrol car made their way up the dead-end road.  The roadblock hurriedly dissolved. And, as soon as it was safe, warning shots were fired at the “rip-offs” and they were allowed to escape.

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34 comments

  • Most of the children of pot growers that I’ve met (and still know in some cases) do seem to have happy memories of growing up in the culture.
    I agree with your statement on this.

    I like how you’re using this blog to promote your writing. I try to do the same thing. It doesn’t hurt anything and hopefully attracts more readers.

    • I think of the blog as a bridge sometimes–it facilitates travel to the writing and gives a reader a place to go to find more about what they are interested in.

  • Most of the children of pot growers that I’ve met (and still know in some cases) do seem to have happy memories of growing up in the culture.
    I agree with your statement on this.

    I like how you’re using this blog to promote your writing. I try to do the same thing. It doesn’t hurt anything and hopefully attracts more readers.

    • I think of the blog as a bridge sometimes–it facilitates travel to the writing and gives a reader a place to go to find more about what they are interested in.

  • You can try to put a pretty face on it Kym, but the generational damage done to our society cannot be undone.

  • You can try to put a pretty face on it Kym, but the generational damage done to our society cannot be undone.

  • Any intergenerational damage done by marijuana cultivation isn’t any worse than the damage done by things like alcohol, spousal abuse, mainstream militarism, or plain old child neglect. In truth, people who are going to damage their kids will do so whether they have a 80k a year professional job or 80k of lights in the outbuilding.

    …and Snickerdoodle, haven’t I told you before to play nice? >:)

  • Any intergenerational damage done by marijuana cultivation isn’t any worse than the damage done by things like alcohol, spousal abuse, mainstream militarism, or plain old child neglect. In truth, people who are going to damage their kids will do so whether they have a 80k a year professional job or 80k of lights in the outbuilding.

    …and Snickerdoodle, haven’t I told you before to play nice? >:)

  • Thank you Randy. Well said.

    Though, I still wonder if the very fact of having to keep things secret mightn’t exacerbate some problems that society already deals with?

  • Thank you Randy. Well said.

    Though, I still wonder if the very fact of having to keep things secret mightn’t exacerbate some problems that society already deals with?

  • The whole debate reminds me of prohibition. I come from a country where pot usage is legal (no not Netherlands), but I have encountered more pot smokers in California. I think demonizing something makes it very attractive. I really don’t care if somebody smokes or not. Like alcohol there are side effects and like alcohol you must not drive or operate machinery, but lets face it, the more you talk, the interesting it gets.
    The idea of pot being an entry level drug is absurd. Alcohol doesn’t make you a glue sniffer as much as pot does make you a heroin addict. Prolonged alcohol and prolonged pot use seem to destroy brain cells, but as adults we should demand freedom of choice.
    I don’t think Children of pot growers can be negatively affected, unless we make something a crime that shouldn’t be. Pot itself is harmless. Exhaust from our car industry is more destructive. Make them illegal.

    • The government should legalize weed and tax it just like alcholo. Tobacco islegal the government is a bunch of hipocrites.

  • The whole debate reminds me of prohibition. I come from a country where pot usage is legal (no not Netherlands), but I have encountered more pot smokers in California. I think demonizing something makes it very attractive. I really don’t care if somebody smokes or not. Like alcohol there are side effects and like alcohol you must not drive or operate machinery, but lets face it, the more you talk, the interesting it gets.
    The idea of pot being an entry level drug is absurd. Alcohol doesn’t make you a glue sniffer as much as pot does make you a heroin addict. Prolonged alcohol and prolonged pot use seem to destroy brain cells, but as adults we should demand freedom of choice.
    I don’t think Children of pot growers can be negatively affected, unless we make something a crime that shouldn’t be. Pot itself is harmless. Exhaust from our car industry is more destructive. Make them illegal.

    • The government should legalize weed and tax it just like alcholo. Tobacco islegal the government is a bunch of hipocrites.

  • Kym, we’ve discussed this before. Anyone that grew, cultivated, harvested, subsidized, bought and sold pot was a criminal – IS A CRIMINAL. Anyone that did business with these criminals was complict in their crimes. These criminals raised their children justifying their right above and beyoned everyone else to make their own laws. That breeds arrogant, self-righteous bullies. Have you taken a real good look at our society lately? Enough said.

    • Joe Blow: So by that definition the entire Kennedy family and anyone they ever dealt with (do we even WANT to map that out?) is a criminal. Joe Kennedy was a known bootlegger and made deals with the devil (i.e. Chicago “Outfit”/Mafia) to get his son John Kennedy elected.

      And actually, the friends I have in Willits (I’m in Indianapolis) are all some of the most down-to-earth people I know; people who help their friends when they need it. I don’t

  • Kym, we’ve discussed this before. Anyone that grew, cultivated, harvested, subsidized, bought and sold pot was a criminal – IS A CRIMINAL. Anyone that did business with these criminals was complict in their crimes. These criminals raised their children justifying their right above and beyoned everyone else to make their own laws. That breeds arrogant, self-righteous bullies. Have you taken a real good look at our society lately? Enough said.

    • Joe Blow: So by that definition the entire Kennedy family and anyone they ever dealt with (do we even WANT to map that out?) is a criminal. Joe Kennedy was a known bootlegger and made deals with the devil (i.e. Chicago “Outfit”/Mafia) to get his son John Kennedy elected.

      And actually, the friends I have in Willits (I’m in Indianapolis) are all some of the most down-to-earth people I know; people who help their friends when they need it. I don’t

  • Thanks very much for this.

    There’s so much that’s good in the Life. Living close to nature, the small tight knit community. But we have to be aware of the harms as well.

    I have been asking kids who grew up here this question for years and I have a view of two harms caused. (I’m not saying every last kid is effed up beyond repair. Certainly the impacts are individual.)

    One is a harm young adults often become conscious of, and the other that I’ve observed over and over one is one they are not aware of. These are the burden of secrets, and the difficulty of internalizing ethics.

    The expectation of secrecy and the requirement to keep secrets causes a lot of conflict and stress in children, and it lasts into adulthood. As someone who spent time in therapy dealing with the issues of parental demands for secrecy, I know how this messes with self-esteem. When something must be kept secret, the children, reasoning to the best of their ability, often come too the conclusion that it must be because something is bad about it.

    Kids absorb their parent’s stress. It often comes up again somehow, later in life, in fears and phobias.
    They internalize shame and fear. They have to limit friendships and censor themselves to meet these demands. If you want to learn more about it, there are dozens of books on toxic parenting and adults raised by alcoholics (called adult children of alcoholics) that describe those feelings and the psychic impacts. I think one of the saddest things I’ve observed is the young folks who go to colleges (other than HSU or UC-Santa Cruz) and find they cannot talk about their home life because they are ostracized if they do. They end up dropping out, or feeling conflicted or ashamed about their parents and upbringing.

    I have watched many teens grow to adulthood, and many tots into teens and the challenge for parents is to teach ethics when they live a comfortable life that requires secrecy and breaking laws. When particular rules dont’ apply as far as growing, how does a kid accept other limitations? They frequently don’t get it. One example, I was talking to some twenty-somethings who adore surfing, who don’t care about breaking the ban on motor vehicles on Black Sands. Who wants to walk all the way to Big Flat with a board? They shrugged off the environmental concern. The rules, well, rules don’t apply to them, or rules can be bent at will. This example is relatively benign, but then we get to not caring about diesel pollution, or not calling the cops or social services for help when it’s truly necessary, such as in cases of abuse.

    Thanks for keeping the discussion going, Kym.

    • Fiance: These are exactly the issues that we are dealing with. I have to be careful about what I say, but when people lie about things they don’t have to lie about and/or get caught lying constantly about everything it makes it hard to deal with them. They don’t even seem to understand that after getting caught lying over and over again that it makes the people they are lying to want to dig deeper into their lives to find out whats really going on.

      For instance we were told that my stepdaughter was taking Spanish lessons for quite sometime, both her father and I speak limited spanish. She came for a visit so I thought I would help her practice her Spanish. I said “hola chica” when she walked in the door. She had no idea what I said. Then “que pasa” still no idea. after several days of figuring out that she didn’t even know what language I was speaking I called her on it. She kept insisting that she had been taking Spanish lessons for 5 years and got mad at me because I refused to believe her. It was all my fault. The next school year she started taking Spanish in school so when she showed up she knew a little. That, to her meant that she didn’t lie to us, that because she started taking the lessons after the fact that it was never a lie.
      She is a smart kid and if she had been taking the lessons she would have been speaking spanish fluently, that I promise.

      Her mother started this lie and she had to continue it, this type of thing is a regular occurance in our lives. Her mother makes her lie to us and it causes conflict in all of our lives that is totally unnecessary. We have always known what her mother does for a living so there was never any need for the lies to us. Had they just been honest with us about what was really going on in other aspects of their lives we would have dealt with it in another way, amongst ourselves and would not have to now be dealing with all these issues in court and with a therapist!

      Just one example! When we catch them lying its our fault, not theirs. We are just supposed to blindly believe what ever they say even though their stories conflict constantly. They hide almst every aspect of their lives from us then get mad when we dig deep enough to find out the truth. Somehow this makes us the bad guys. Apparently because they live in SoHum, none of the normal rules of society apply to them, they are special and nothing about their lives is our business. I doubt therapy is going to do any good at this point because they will lie to the therapist just like they are lying to the attorneys and mediators. You can’t fix a problem that you create then deny!

  • Thanks very much for this.

    There’s so much that’s good in the Life. Living close to nature, the small tight knit community. But we have to be aware of the harms as well.

    I have been asking kids who grew up here this question for years and I have a view of two harms caused. (I’m not saying every last kid is effed up beyond repair. Certainly the impacts are individual.)

    One is a harm young adults often become conscious of, and the other that I’ve observed over and over one is one they are not aware of. These are the burden of secrets, and the difficulty of internalizing ethics.

    The expectation of secrecy and the requirement to keep secrets causes a lot of conflict and stress in children, and it lasts into adulthood. As someone who spent time in therapy dealing with the issues of parental demands for secrecy, I know how this messes with self-esteem. When something must be kept secret, the children, reasoning to the best of their ability, often come too the conclusion that it must be because something is bad about it.

    Kids absorb their parent’s stress. It often comes up again somehow, later in life, in fears and phobias.
    They internalize shame and fear. They have to limit friendships and censor themselves to meet these demands. If you want to learn more about it, there are dozens of books on toxic parenting and adults raised by alcoholics (called adult children of alcoholics) that describe those feelings and the psychic impacts. I think one of the saddest things I’ve observed is the young folks who go to colleges (other than HSU or UC-Santa Cruz) and find they cannot talk about their home life because they are ostracized if they do. They end up dropping out, or feeling conflicted or ashamed about their parents and upbringing.

    I have watched many teens grow to adulthood, and many tots into teens and the challenge for parents is to teach ethics when they live a comfortable life that requires secrecy and breaking laws. When particular rules dont’ apply as far as growing, how does a kid accept other limitations? They frequently don’t get it. One example, I was talking to some twenty-somethings who adore surfing, who don’t care about breaking the ban on motor vehicles on Black Sands. Who wants to walk all the way to Big Flat with a board? They shrugged off the environmental concern. The rules, well, rules don’t apply to them, or rules can be bent at will. This example is relatively benign, but then we get to not caring about diesel pollution, or not calling the cops or social services for help when it’s truly necessary, such as in cases of abuse.

    Thanks for keeping the discussion going, Kym.

    • Fiance: These are exactly the issues that we are dealing with. I have to be careful about what I say, but when people lie about things they don’t have to lie about and/or get caught lying constantly about everything it makes it hard to deal with them. They don’t even seem to understand that after getting caught lying over and over again that it makes the people they are lying to want to dig deeper into their lives to find out whats really going on.

      For instance we were told that my stepdaughter was taking Spanish lessons for quite sometime, both her father and I speak limited spanish. She came for a visit so I thought I would help her practice her Spanish. I said “hola chica” when she walked in the door. She had no idea what I said. Then “que pasa” still no idea. after several days of figuring out that she didn’t even know what language I was speaking I called her on it. She kept insisting that she had been taking Spanish lessons for 5 years and got mad at me because I refused to believe her. It was all my fault. The next school year she started taking Spanish in school so when she showed up she knew a little. That, to her meant that she didn’t lie to us, that because she started taking the lessons after the fact that it was never a lie.
      She is a smart kid and if she had been taking the lessons she would have been speaking spanish fluently, that I promise.

      Her mother started this lie and she had to continue it, this type of thing is a regular occurance in our lives. Her mother makes her lie to us and it causes conflict in all of our lives that is totally unnecessary. We have always known what her mother does for a living so there was never any need for the lies to us. Had they just been honest with us about what was really going on in other aspects of their lives we would have dealt with it in another way, amongst ourselves and would not have to now be dealing with all these issues in court and with a therapist!

      Just one example! When we catch them lying its our fault, not theirs. We are just supposed to blindly believe what ever they say even though their stories conflict constantly. They hide almst every aspect of their lives from us then get mad when we dig deep enough to find out the truth. Somehow this makes us the bad guys. Apparently because they live in SoHum, none of the normal rules of society apply to them, they are special and nothing about their lives is our business. I doubt therapy is going to do any good at this point because they will lie to the therapist just like they are lying to the attorneys and mediators. You can’t fix a problem that you create then deny!

  • Fiance here:

    I was just noticing that one mother up there that is a member of your little community has just reams of writing on her MySpace profile about her wonderful life and children. She goes on and on about all the things they do together, trips to Africa, South America and where ever else they chose to go. I know that her son participated in a KMUD radio broadcast about being raised there and how great it is.

    Then I go over to the Redwood Times and read an article written this past December. This little tidbit is all about the homeless children in SoHum….guess who was the only childs name mentioned? Yep, you got it, this wonderful mother who oh so loves her children….it was one of her sons! Where is the other one? Is he also homeless and having to spend every night on at a different friends house? Is the Garberville Rotary Club also having to provide him with clothing and the basic necessities of life? Where is this man/childs father? Was he too run out of his sons life by the kids mother becaue he disagreed with how she was raising his child? If my stepdaughter ends up like him is anyone going to feel the need to inform us? In the article he is referred to as a “minor” child, when the truth be told he turned 18 last July. He is still in school, which is a good thing, I guess under the circumstances, at least he realizes that he needs an education in spite of his mothers obvious neglect!

    • I raised a child in so hum. Her dad was a big grower and i couldnt take the stress and left him when she was little, but she spent time with him, and i think his pot growing brought its benefits, like easy money, and freedom to travel, but the secrecy and the shame around having too much compared to others was hard for her, and in college she couldnt talk about what he did cos people thought of it as hard core crime, so she lives with secrets, many secrets.. and I have known kids who saw their parents getting busted, and that cant be good for their development, and kids whose dads spent time in jail, also hard on the family unit..and kids who lived in fear of rip offs and cops, also damaging i think, and the kids of recycled youth told it clearly in a skit two years ago when they had a scene where a friend visited a grower family and said “do u have any idea how strange this life of yours is to an outsider??” that always stuck with me.. i step back and think about it, and how so very different it is here… so many lovely people, but they’d be lovely without pot wouldnt they?

  • Fiance here:

    I was just noticing that one mother up there that is a member of your little community has just reams of writing on her MySpace profile about her wonderful life and children. She goes on and on about all the things they do together, trips to Africa, South America and where ever else they chose to go. I know that her son participated in a KMUD radio broadcast about being raised there and how great it is.

    Then I go over to the Redwood Times and read an article written this past December. This little tidbit is all about the homeless children in SoHum….guess who was the only childs name mentioned? Yep, you got it, this wonderful mother who oh so loves her children….it was one of her sons! Where is the other one? Is he also homeless and having to spend every night on at a different friends house? Is the Garberville Rotary Club also having to provide him with clothing and the basic necessities of life? Where is this man/childs father? Was he too run out of his sons life by the kids mother becaue he disagreed with how she was raising his child? If my stepdaughter ends up like him is anyone going to feel the need to inform us? In the article he is referred to as a “minor” child, when the truth be told he turned 18 last July. He is still in school, which is a good thing, I guess under the circumstances, at least he realizes that he needs an education in spite of his mothers obvious neglect!

    • I raised a child in so hum. Her dad was a big grower and i couldnt take the stress and left him when she was little, but she spent time with him, and i think his pot growing brought its benefits, like easy money, and freedom to travel, but the secrecy and the shame around having too much compared to others was hard for her, and in college she couldnt talk about what he did cos people thought of it as hard core crime, so she lives with secrets, many secrets.. and I have known kids who saw their parents getting busted, and that cant be good for their development, and kids whose dads spent time in jail, also hard on the family unit..and kids who lived in fear of rip offs and cops, also damaging i think, and the kids of recycled youth told it clearly in a skit two years ago when they had a scene where a friend visited a grower family and said “do u have any idea how strange this life of yours is to an outsider??” that always stuck with me.. i step back and think about it, and how so very different it is here… so many lovely people, but they’d be lovely without pot wouldnt they?

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  • I loved growing up in the woods. I was in awe of mother nature, still am, and appreciated my unique view of purple mountains in dawns early light as I drove to school at 6AM, or the amazing starlit sky in the evenings. I loved sharing my childhood stories with my college friends. They were always amazed, but, I never told the whole truth. How could I and not risk my family’s safety. So, I believe it is most definitely the constraints society placed on the marijuana culture that jacked me up emotionally. It took me over 5 years away from So Hum for me to not cringe every time a helicopter flew over head. Thanks Nancy Reagan! I suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome because my country declared war on my community, my culture. The lying, the fear . . . sigh. So, would I exchange my childhood for a suburban one? I just don’t know. Suburbia is what I’ve given my kids, but if I could live in my childhood mountains in relative comfort and do it legally I would in a heartbeat. How? I just don’t know how. On the other hand, I still dealt with regular issues like an alcoholic step-dad, a depressed dad, and my mom . . . maybe just a hippy mom. Your right, because of the lying and the breaking of laws, I didn’t know when or how to ask for help. I felt as an adult as well as when I was a child, that our government is oyr enemy. Asking for help from school for coping with my dad and step-dad’s issues seemed like I would somehow be inviting the enemy into my life. How is life now? I am a well-adjusted successful adult who lives in a city playing by the rules but yearning for the beauty of my childhood.

    • Harmony, You aren’t the only one. One of the people I interviewed spoke about this contradiction of feeling in those who have left. Here’s a quote from the article:

      Yet, when asked what she misses about marijuana, she bursts out, “I miss the community. Is it the small town? Or, is it that everyone is in on The Secret?” She laughs at the contradiction in herself—what caused the most anxiety for her is also what forged the bonds that brings her back again and again to visit.

  • I loved growing up in the woods. I was in awe of mother nature, still am, and appreciated my unique view of purple mountains in dawns early light as I drove to school at 6AM, or the amazing starlit sky in the evenings. I loved sharing my childhood stories with my college friends. They were always amazed, but, I never told the whole truth. How could I and not risk my family’s safety. So, I believe it is most definitely the constraints society placed on the marijuana culture that jacked me up emotionally. It took me over 5 years away from So Hum for me to not cringe every time a helicopter flew over head. Thanks Nancy Reagan! I suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome because my country declared war on my community, my culture. The lying, the fear . . . sigh. So, would I exchange my childhood for a suburban one? I just don’t know. Suburbia is what I’ve given my kids, but if I could live in my childhood mountains in relative comfort and do it legally I would in a heartbeat. How? I just don’t know how. On the other hand, I still dealt with regular issues like an alcoholic step-dad, a depressed dad, and my mom . . . maybe just a hippy mom. Your right, because of the lying and the breaking of laws, I didn’t know when or how to ask for help. I felt as an adult as well as when I was a child, that our government is oyr enemy. Asking for help from school for coping with my dad and step-dad’s issues seemed like I would somehow be inviting the enemy into my life. How is life now? I am a well-adjusted successful adult who lives in a city playing by the rules but yearning for the beauty of my childhood.

    • Harmony, You aren’t the only one. One of the people I interviewed spoke about this contradiction of feeling in those who have left. Here’s a quote from the article:

      Yet, when asked what she misses about marijuana, she bursts out, “I miss the community. Is it the small town? Or, is it that everyone is in on The Secret?” She laughs at the contradiction in herself—what caused the most anxiety for her is also what forged the bonds that brings her back again and again to visit.

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