Madness on a Marijuana Grow: An Article in Mainstream Press Looks at a Pot Farm

weitchpec Marijuana garden raided Sheriff's photo

Unrelated marijuana garden in Weitchpec. [Photo from a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release]

Rolling Stones has an excerpt. Men’s Journal carries the whole sordid story–The Perils of Pot Farming: A Season on America’s Least Chill Weed Farm. The article chronicles one man’s sojourn on a marijuana grow. The author writes of the overall perils of pot farming:

I thought a weed farm was kind of like a Christmas tree farm. You plant seeds, water them, let nature do its thing, and when it’s time and they’re big enough, you chop them down and sell them, make your money, and everyone has a merry Christmas. The end.

It’s not. “All it takes is one bad run,” Nelson says, “and you lose your entire ass in this game.” There’s an endless list of things that can go wrong. The wind can wipe out your crop; the plants can all stress out and hermaphrodite on you; you can lose them to gophers, deer, caterpillars, spider mites, broad mites, bud rot, mold, powdery mildew, thieves, or a bad crew; if it’s too dark in the greenhouses, you can end up with larfy-ass buds, which means they’re too fluffy; and you can overfertilize and burn your plants chemically.

He also details the descent into madness with his terrifying boss.

And then there’s the murder talk.

“I swear to God I’ll kill their whole fucking family!!! Each and every fucking one of them! Stab them, rip their fucking hearts out, and bury

them!!!”

One morning, as we drive to the dump, Eric is extolling the virtues of a gluten-free diet when he suddenly asks if I ever get thoughts in my head of killing people.

The article references the story of the Laytonville grower whose trimmers allegedly murdered him which adds to the ugliness and to the authenticity of the story.

In the end, the author leaves behind both the farm and a co-worker, a female, who eventually gets “ripped off” by the creepy boss. She tells the author though that she continues to work in the industry for much nicer bosses.

[S]he tells me she worked a couple of days at a camp where they paid their trimmers $200 a pound and brought in dozens of lobsters and bottles of expensive tequila for everyone.

We’re curious—what were your experiences? Mostly good? Mostly bad? Is this article some version of Reefer Madness the movie in print form? Or does it accurately depict at least some of the living conditions on these grows.

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75 comments

  • Men’s journal is curious ?? About our lives up here ? They want ,what most of us really want to say lol ??? Get the hell outta our county !!!! This national tv attention , that’s why things here are getting worse …. More break ins in the cove to Briceland daily …

  • In this day and age with the state of pot farming and the criminal element in the county, you’d have to be a naive idiot to think it’s easy.
    I’ve trimmed for friends many years ago when it was completely illegal. I had to go into denial about what could happen with a house full of weed, I’ve heard too many horror stories about home invasion.
    I turned down a very lucrative job because the grower was smacked out and carried a .44 on his hip. There are some scary people out there in the bush.
    Did some very small growing myself and got ripped off badly. It’s just not worth it to me. Even if you make it to the end of the season it works out to about 31 cents per hour for months of unrelenting stress.

  • Sleepy Alligator

    I tried my best, but I just couldn’t finish reading this long dragged out and very boring article.

  • 4 weeks ago I walked into the scene of a home invasion/attempted murder.

    Pot was involved, completely.

    If the TCSO moved slightly quicker than sleeping sloths I could point to arrests and press releases.

    In short I have now seen it all.

    The best, and worst, of it all.

  • Yes, I’m always paid $200 per pound, there is a live in masseuse, a hot tub, a service dog ( this is a high stress job!) named Bud, and lobster for dinner, usually two each. At happy hour, we each get one of those $999 bottles of cognac that Shop Smart sells. We sleep on organic Egyptian cotton sheets, snuggled under cashmere blankets, while a live Tibetan choir chants us to sleep. It is really hard work, but at least the pay is decent.

    • Lake County Not So Bad

      Love it! It’s the rare comment of this caliber that makes it worth reading through the other 90 percent. Thanks! I can get back to work now with a smile.

    • The Tibetan Tuvan Choirs are addicting. Be careful!

    • For the most part it is unlikely that most trimmers get lobster etc… Such bullshit!!! The Emerald Triangle is a slave economy with worker violations up the ass. Thanks Yuppy Growers for being a bunch of manipulative selfish Sons of Bitchs and for creating an adversarial environment which completely fucks the locals. No trickle down economy here!!!
      I am glad to hear that there is a study coming out which exposes the truth about the millions of dollars the cannabis industry is making and the negative impact on the business and necessary community organizations. We are inundated with new money gangsters who do not give a shit about anything but the obvious. Thanks to our “Thug Supervisors”!! Your a bunch of Sell Outs!! Expect less tourism this year no one wants to visit a rural area full of rejects and criminals.

      • I have never known of lobster served to be sure but I’ve known of Dom Perignon champagne served. I know of steaks bbq’d and many meals served to hard working trimmers. Yes, there are those who abuse their workers and, for those workers I’m glad to see regulation coming but for other trimmers who had a great relationship with the growers they worked for, I’m sorry to see a less family-like situation substituted.

  • I’m surprised you are putting out a call for different stories. We used to weigh in with some real but not wonderfully positive stories and you would always say that all you know is positive and wonderful medicine growers. And small family scenes. Then Google satellite images arrived…Surprise!! But you still insisted everybody was wonderful medicine growers. Yes- there are some of those still around. But they are getting run over and out by massive corporate-style mega-grows that you have enthusiastically endorsed all along. Now I suspect you want some stories to use to back the move for enforcement on unpermitted grows- those who are too small to afford the endless fees and taxes that go with “legalization” (tax and regulate and reward the greediest and biggest). I think your heart is in the right place but I will give up no info anymore to you because you and I are on opposing sides in this evolution of our county. I loved my old community and recognized there were some problem people involved. I, like many, recognized the greed and manipulation inherent in the CCV-H and Emerald Family Farm schemes…Ted Simpkin and that terrible “medicinal” Woods bill… Oaksterdam and High Times….a fake, heavily slanted “‘legalization”proposition…Our ship is already sunk. I always promoted eradication of massive and environmentally damaging grows but you took the position of letting it all blow up. Of course we got here! I’m guessing these stories will be part of your upcoming book about the demise and destruction of a unique subculture we built here? Everybody is cashing in so why not? I only comment to add counterpoint for the future historians. We didn’t all go willingly into the corporate death machine. Thanks for letting me comment! I love your reports on the roads- very useful and a service to the community. Your blog is great- except for the weed stuff!

    • You know, I can’t even find time to pay the bills let alone find time to write this book you are talking about. I make about $5 per hour and I get trashed by people who don’t even have the courtesy of letting me know their name and reputation. Right now I’m looking at these crappy allegations and I know you and I both love this community but while I have always treated you with respect because of it, you will just throw stupid accusations at me because you are behind a wall feeling safe and I am not.

      But here let me once again try to defend myself to some anonymous sniper–(though I appreciate that at least you hang on to the same moniker–unlike the guy who threatened to rape me and then shoot me, or the other guys who send me gross sexual comments.):

      Back in the old days, the world I saw was sweet, small growers with some bad apples. Now, sadly, the mix is much more ugly but there are still plenty of small, clean growers. I did not endorse corporate grows. I’ve always supported the small farmer. Stop making shit up. I’m sick and tired of it. I have never supported environmentally harming this land and I never will. I’ve spoken out with my name and photo on the internet for every sick jerk to throw slop at since I wrote about the diesel spill at Hacker Creek in 2008. I’ve been yelled at in person, on the phone and trashed behind my back for standing up for small growers and against the environmental damage some growers big and small are willing to inflict on this land.

      I’d like to say I think you are a good person and I find something of value in your comments but at this point, I’ve been worn through to exhausted and you were the last cheap shot that broke me down until I shrieked back.

      I probably shouldn’t post this comment but I am so damn tired of being professional and polite when people hiding behind fake names sling any shit they make up at me.

      • Greatnortherness

        Kym I think you are an outstanding woman. You are so on top of your game. Please don’t become disenchanted over the the shallow end of the gene pool.

      • Well said Kym!!!! Just remember, for every one jerk who lashes out, you have 1,000 who have your back. You are important to everyone in this community! Even the a$$&%@#$ who torment you, run to your page for storm, roads, and accident info.

        I’m happy you stuck it to him!!!! There is no rule saying you can’t be human too Kym. Let it out! Slap back!

        You made my day Kym!! Love you! 💜 👏 👊

      • Kym,

        There will be loyal readers, and then you will have what I call fair weather readers. The ones who love you when you write something they believe in, then they hate you when you write something they don’t agree with. I lucked up and ran across this site several months ago. My husbands family is from Laytonville so we moved here a couple years ago to be closer to them. Since finding your site, I go straight to it, as soon as I turn on my laptop. I love Laytonville and the people here are mostly kind and decent people. Keep up the good work, and ignore the trolls who have nothing better to do then be arm chair judges to everyone.

        • As a general rule, I expect criticism and I try to be open to it. But I wish folks would stick to telling me what they don’t like about what I do and not attack my entire character.

          But, I’m glad you are finding what you need here. That makes me happy.

      • kym, this is NOT whining. if you need to learn the fine art of the whine, i can teach you. i have it down to a science.

        a lot of what you wrote – abusive behavior directed at you…
        i have to wonder too many times ‘wtf is wrong with people’. is it how they were raised?
        i have to guess that you raised your kids to be respectful, open and compassionate as this seems to be your nature. if this is the case, i thank you for that.

        that you’ll not be writing a book, well kym, you broke my heart with that… i’d wait in the pouring torrential rains for as long as i’d have to at your book-signing party just to get a copy of that book.

        you have the greatest info blog, and i like the broad range of topics. i like your rapport with comment we who comment, even if you are forced to scold.

        i know this site is an act of love and you probably have no choice but to do it. but 5$ an hr, ugh. and nasty threats to deal with.
        i wish i could help you somehow. i would love to read your book! (it’s all about me kym)

        thank you for your blood, sweat and tears.

        • Thank you. This is an act of love and (shhh, don’t tell anyone) I’d probably do the darn thing for free because I do enjoy it. It’s been a rough couple of weeks though and I let a few comments that usually roll off my back get to me.

      • you are a great asset to this community..some people are just bitter, and there are lots of bad stories. I don’t blame that on you.

      • Go Kym! Three cheers for all small time farmers!

      • Way to go Kym!!

    • Are you kidding me? What part of don’t shoot the messenger don’t you get? Kym does an amazing job of reporting what is going on, I have never seen her throw a personal slant on her articles. The problem with social media is that we can now get the “news” we want instead of the truth. Thank you Kym for remaining a true reporter who tells it like it is, not how we would like it to be!

  • Very disappointing to see you (incorrectly) quote the National Enquirer type sections as your excerpts from a less than average article, now third hand

    You’re letting your standards drop ….presumably you’re fishing for more BS like your “Rape Environment in the Emerald Triangle”

    • Of course, when you don’t like a story, then I must be letting my standards drop. It has nothing to do with the fact that another reader sent me the story asking me to write about it.

      Jeez, do you have even the smallest notion of what it takes to largely keep this entire website afloat by myself? Part of it is reaching out to a wide audience–some like one thing, some another. If you don’t like it, okay, tell me and tell me why. I can take that but I am so tired of being accused of being a crappy person because someone doesn’t like one article. In this case because I point to an article in Rolling Stone, a major magazine, that looks at our culture and I ask what readers think. Good lord, the crime level in my behavior is unbelievable. How dare I provide information on something that you aren’t interested in?

  • Looks like “Farce” and “English John” are one and the same. Sounds like he might have had a bad weekend! Fishing for that negative attention. You have to watch out for the old “Limeys”, they like to point their little crooked fingers!

  • Same old same old

    The grow scene in Humboldt is a cluster-fuck piece of out of control shit!! Neighborhoods and subdivisions invaded by lights, smell, traffic and people that just don’t give a fuck. Millions made in Humboldt but it looks like a fucking ghetto except the expensive growers houses tucked away behind locked gates. The prices of property are driven by grow potential. I can’t fucking WAIT till eradication starts on non-permitted grows. Clear out Humboldt and let us go back to some semblance of normalcy. I think this year is the last hurrah for 3/4 of the growers in Humboldt, get lost and good riddence, so fucking over the bullshit.

    • Wondering how all this cleaning out is Going to happen when it didn’t happen when it was illegal. Depending on neighbors snitching out their neighbors won’t work.

      • Same old same old

        Don’t you think that the people that go thru the permitting process will resent those getting away with not getting permitted? Some of the tax and fee money is supposed to be used for eradication. If you think about it, no need to storm properties first and ask questions later. Law enforcement has lists of properties permitted or in the process. A simple formal Cease and Desist warning can be issued. If they fail to comply, send in law enforcement to eradicate.

        • Sounds like carpetbagging to me. Good luck with destroying your neighbors. Most people with common sense want to have their neighbors as allies , not enemy’s.

          • Same old same old

            how about if your neighbors are asshole growers that don’t give a shit about you? It’s not all rainbows and unicorns out there. I see that you have never had to deal with asshole growers like me and a lot of people I know have. Carpetbagging? I don’t want their property.

            • Cops come for a day. Those asshole neighbors might be there forever.

              • HOJ in Training

                People sure have fallen in love with misusing apostrophes. Yo, “silverlining”, the plural for enemy is spelled enemies. No apostrophe necessary.

                • That was worth posting about?

                • Sure, why not? Every bit as relevant as what you spew.

                  Nice to know we can now put “shit” in our comments.

                  shit, shit shit shit shit, shit……..holy shit!

              • Same old same old

                Stop assuming you know what going on with me. Or my neighbors. Your big opinions are piss in the wind. You must be one of the kind of neighbors that abuse their neighborhood and neighbors.

                • Sounds like you don’t know what life is like here. Think about it for a second and you will see the glaring holes in what for me is an illusion that does not address reality.

    • Don’t hold your breath.

  • Kym, please keep telling it like it is from ALL the various angles. Those who already live there and know the situations from experience probably won’t even comment because they’ve told friends or read it once and they get tired of the repetition and the responses that follow.
    Those who don’t know, or think they know because they’re hearing things second or third hand or read an article and decided that they know what must have really happened…they’ll comment because they won’t look beyond what they know and expect to read something that agrees with them.
    Those who are curious and/or don’t live there and are genuinely interested can read and use their intelligence to decide what they want to read and what they’ll believe. They’ll also look further if they want more information or confirmations from another source.

    I also think that by printing information about what other publications are writing is a service because most people wouldn’t look for that sort of information in the mass media. But accurate or false, it helps to know that this view of things is out there, people are reading it and it may influence their vote/behavior/support.

    It looks to me like in order to present the broadest possible forum Kym doesn’t interject her own personal opinions (as other people often do) so that people will focus on the issue and think about that.
    And until those who complain about how she runs this site put up their own website and try doing what she’s done, I think it’s all talk and shows little respect.
    She has my respect: for how she runs the site, the broad coverage, the fair way she tries to approach sensitive issues, and more.
    For those who disagree with her a good deal, why not just not read the site for a week. See if you can get similar coverage elsewhere and if after a week if you feel as well informed or amused. I love reading a lot of the comments….but not all.

  • Funny how people who run a farm of a federally illegal crop, sometimes don’t pay their workers, enslave their workers, exploit our lands, dont pay taxes, hurt people, and they cry foul when they are ripped off or killed by bigger scumbags. I’m sure that there are several honest farmers out there, but there are too many who need to get out of the business. They give all the good people a bad name and cast a dark shadow on what could be an amazing legitimate industry for Humboldt.

  • Kym, thank you for standing up for yourself! ! I very much appreciate your blog. If these dudes don’t like it, maybe they should stop reading it.

  • Holy hell…where does one start? Firstly, love you Kym we have known of each other for quiet some time. The tales begin in 1985. Spy Rock. I was a new transplant, young…my folks had bought some property in Redwood Valley. Got offered a job up past Spy Rock School. Dan and Mary some of the original settlers up there linked us up with employment.

    We rode up the mountain for what seemed forever, twisting back and forth, too and fro. Undulating along with this road. Anticipation, curiosity it all builds as we bump along. We had heard of this work…the potential for free smoke and a little cash. It was not anywhere evolved like it is now. Easy, clandestine, by the light of the moon we traveled up the hill.

    • I have always wished we had a book that told the stories of people who grew the first gardens and trimmed the first buds. Every year someone dies and their stories die with them. I think that makes me the saddest of all.

  • Finally the truck grinds to a halt and we hop out of the back. Greeted by a hulk of a man, with a beautiful white beard, and sparkling eyes illuminated by the full moon above us.
    We stood there the shilhottest of gigantic oak trees surrounding us. Giddy, pensive, egar to work he beacons us forward…come on we will work in here.

  • He introduces himself as Peter…yeah like the rabbit he laughs..I like to dig holes as he sizes us up. Is it a threat…a joke…small talk. No one questions, we all laugh.

    Before us is a large wooden for lack of a better word teepee. We travel along the side and duck into a hole covered with a flap. As we enter into the space it seems strangely inviting.

    Warm, softly lit with oil lamps a large wood burning Cookstove posted prominently in the middle. A massive, worn wooden table sat next to it.

  • As our eyes (3 of us) minus Peter adjusted to the light the paper bags start to become distinguishable. Hundreds of paper bags. All neatly closed, stapled shut.

    Peter starts…Trim this up… its good shit. They didn’t have fancy names then. Homegrown, buds, weed, sometimes Indica or Sativa was tossed around. Peter advised us that once the weed was trimmed he then rolled it into cigarette sized joints, put them in packs and drove them to the bay area for his Vietnam vet friends.

  • As we busily clipped away our, flocking our clothes with trimmings our fingers became coated with hash, blisters formed quiclky. There was no alcohol to clean your gear. We used little Chinese single curve scissors wrapped with thread. We thought we were in heaven.

    Meanwhile, Peter is over at the stove. He is stoking the fire. Trying to not pay attention to him I catch little glimpses out of the corner of my eye. He is cooking. I can gleen a glimpse of a cast iron skillet with steam wafting off. He is deftly rolling some dough, pie crust?? Who knows with a handle free rolling pin. he expertly assembles a large pie in the skillet and pops it into the oven. the smells envelope the structure quickly.

  • Once the now identified pot pie was finished Peter served it up with flourish. We gobbled it down. How was it possible to cook like that on a woodstove, I was 18 and had never experienced anything like this whole situation before.

    We finished up for the night after spending about 10 hours up the hill that day. When we finished Peter gave each of us a brown paper lunch bag full of weed and 20 dollars. No by the pound, by the hour, no weighing what you did. We thought that compensation was amazing. Happy with the day we thanked him for the work and food. We loaded up into his truck one again for the trip down the mountain to Dan and Mary’s where our car was.

    We stopped at the gas station that was Area 101. Go inside pay for 5 dollars in gas, I look down and noticed my flocked clothing and hurry back out to the car, uncertain if the clerk noticed or cared. Sadly, we never did work for Peter again.

    My first trip up that mountain, I was hooked…never looked back…now 30+ years later nothing is the same, I wonder what Peter would think?

  • mendocino mamma

    Thank you Kym. Thank you Truthy. If you are familiar with any of my previous postings…not all stories are as sweet as this one. But one could understand how I became so hooked…much like a drug. From such an innocent, naive, yet intoxicating beginning.

    There are 30+,years of tales…NorMendoCo and SoHum have been a fantastic place. Not everyone destroys the earth, some have , compassion, some don’t screw their neighbors wives…some do.

    Some, care, some don’t many are wrestling with it all somewhere in between. In a realm where conservation or consideration are so sadly, a mere convenience of the moment. All these years later the industry is still strongly rooted in our communities. All these years later, with California being the “first” to legalize it is still ever-evolving but never resolving! Have a great day everybody. enjoy every minute. RIP Dan and Mary Ortiz…and Peter…by now he would have been 100. Thank you.

  • mendocino mamma

    Kym…if you want to collaborate I’m down.

    • I would love to …but…I hardly have time to spend with my family let alone add a new project no matter how cool. Thank you for the thought though, I wish I was able to clone myself.

    • I grew up on Ahimsa, Wheeler’s ranch commune near Occidental, CA in the ’70s (sister commune to Morningstar, Gotlieb’s commune near Graton, CA).
      I knew many interesting people and experienced many interesting things.
      I am an elder now, and although many great documentaries have been recorded, when I die many great moments will be lost (except in spirit).
      Some of the old grow myths are so funny in light of modern agro, we used moon tea and some, plant voodoo and torture (ug), nails through the stalks, injecting cocaine or LSD into plants. Almost funny, but not. Nature rules.
      If anyone wants to hear an old man’s recollection, with tears and smiles, I’m open.
      David Wolf
      imdawolfman@gmail.com

      Oh, and Kym, you’re a braveheart. Don’t ever let the bastards get you down. TY.

      • Just ’cause I like the pic.

      • Injecting LSD into a plant sounds like an idea that people spun on LSD would come up with. I like it.

      • You ever hear the one about a lady that would pull the whole plant with root ball then would put the roots in a large pot of boiling water to ” force ” the resins up thru the stalk. ( resins are produced on the surface )

  • Kym: This community needs you and your voice. You have love for this community, its’ history, culture, economy and you are grounded in love and respect. You are holding it down. You value HumCo more than any other journalist out there. This is clear. There are so many lost people in those hills who have completely lost touch with any sort of principles, ethics, or a bigger vision of how they fit into society. So, those folks attack you, it makes sense. You have the guts to put your voice out there and so you are an easy target. Crummy folks love an easy target. Internet trolls absolutely thrive on easy targets. You are in a tough business- internet journalism and blogging. Everyone else gets to participate anonymously and you are the only one in this little world that has to identify who you are. Not fair. But at the end of the day, you are contributing some good to this world. You are keeping all of us terrified, frustrated, confused folks in the cannabis industry abreast of the happenings in our small corner of the globe. We do need you and your point of view. There was once a day, not long ago when we all looked to the Lost Coast Outpost for our news. When they published the names AND addresses of all the people who applied for permits everyone should have stopped going to their site. Seriously. That was a demonstration that they have zero respect for this community, in fact it seemed like a form of assault on the people who are trying to step up and do the right thing. So, please rest assured that lots of us do appreciate what you are doing for this community and when all of the chips fall, at the end of the day you can rest easy knowing that you tried to do your part to love and protect this community. There are so few people in those mountains that can say the same for themselves. I applaud you Kym. Go girl.

    As for this article, I have to say that I have worked for someone like this. The guy was nuts but I have to say that this industry can add to people being nuts. If you choose to cultivate, you are agreeing to live part of your life in secrecy if not all of it. This can be stressful. It can alienate you from friends and family. Without a support network, it is hard to stay sane. It can keep you out of the mainstream society even if you want to participate. So just don’t participate, is what most people would advise. However, the money can be really good and this is alluring in a county where most jobs pay so terribly. So yes, I’ve actually worked with several cray cray growers and I am so glad that those days are over. Working for them made me want a 9-5 job with an HR department. Seriously, at least I knew that I was going to get paid at the end of the day. I feel sorry for the growers because this industry can contribute to the crazy, but I especially feel for the people that rely on them for money.

  • We all know how successful “eradication ” efforts were. What is next? Going back to helicopters and convoys?

    let’s see… 10k grow scenes in humblt according to google maps.
    minus the 2000(?) that are trying for a permit…OK there are about 150 days including weekends between may-October..

    What? Oh that should be no problem!! : more than 50 eradication efforts daily lol.. # safety in numbers.

  • This is a conglomeration of about 85% of the farms I have worked on, I had to check the names over and over because to sounded so eerily familiar. In some ways it will get worse post prop 64, and others it may improve slightly, such as more getting paid and less getting ripped off. Other than the psycho element, and wage theft, such as you find at many corporations, this particular farm sounds fairly professional over all in comparison to what I have experienced frankly.

  • I, for one want our neighborhood back! To all of you that have moved here and don’t care about the area and only want to grow, regardless of the rules and regulations, leave now because you are not wanted.

    We also know that the “Stupervisors” and the worthless sheriff are not going to do a thing, they are after the money that all of this brings. I think we should find out where they live and put in a grow next door and see how they like it. We keep hearing about all of the tourists and I see them all of the time with out of state plates but they are not tourists and they are ruining our county.

  • Crappiest article ever.

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