Into the Emerald Triangle

Travels with OC potrepreneur B. Lucky to California's marijuana breadbasket

*    *    *

In the midst of a vast forest 20 miles farther north, Lucky steers around a steep curve, the river 200 feet below a cliff to our right. He's blowing pot smoke out the driver's-side window as we careen around the bend, pushing 70 mph. A police cruiser is parked on the opposite side of the freeway. Lucky lifts his foot off the accelerator slightly, puts the bong back in the holder and keeps driving. Thirty seconds later, he screeches to a halt in the gravel on the side of the road.

"Man, I have to wake up," Lucky says, yawning, and suddenly, it's apparent we're not being pulled over.

Lucky sprints back and forth on the roadside until he feels alert, and we continue north. We pass a hardware store that has a dozen or so trailer-mounted generators parked out front, all of which are going to power greenhouses. The rain, which had cleared up a few hours earlier, begins to fall again. In a forlorn parking lot on the other side of the freeway, a drenched hippie sits on a stool, hawking large Bob Marley and Hello Kitty blankets.

Soon, redwoods with trunks large enough to drive through are towering on either side of the road, blocking out the sun. Farther along, dingy trailers, overgrown with weeds, stand guard over small, tent-covered marijuana plots just yards from the freeway. As we climb uphill into the mountains, the trees become thinner, replaced with typically golden California grassland. A large, red barn crowns one of the hilltops. There's a late-model Ferrari parked next to a satellite dish and an array of radio antennas.

After zigzagging up and down the backside of a steep mountain, we reach a fern-covered ravine that narrows at a wooden bridge crossing a shallow creek. Waiting for us at the gate is Dave, a recently divorced horticulturalist from New Jersey who jumped at the opportunity to earn a handsome salary living on a pot farm. As is his ritual, Dave is ending the day the same way he started it: taking his two powerfully built Dobermans on a walk around the property.

Dave shuts the gate behind us and follows us up to the main house, which, along with the property and the greenhouses, is owned by one of Lucky's best friends, a pot smuggler from San Francisco named Anton. Like Lucky, he has spent most of the past two decades moving untold tons of weed to the East Coast. Besides smoking pot all day in massive joints rolled from the excess trim from last year's harvest, Anton's job is to cook meals and make sure the fridge is packed and the house is running tight.

At dawn every morning, Dave walks his two dogs and waters the plants. He spends most of the rest of his day tending to individual plants, ensuring each one is healthy. By the time they're ready for trimming, the number of workers on this farm more than quadruples with hourly workers, and the population of the Emerald Triangle itself explodes with an army of trimmers that spends weeks manicuring marijuana branches into ounce after ounce of shelf-ready buds. Until then, it's just Anton, Dave and Anton's brother Zach, who's permitted to leave the house only once a week to play golf. He practices his swing each evening by smashing balls into a large tree at the edge of the clearing.

"I've been here since March," Zach says. "It's a great spot, a great way to get out of the rat race, I guess." He also enjoys kayaking down the river in his free time, but there's never much of that to go around and even less once the summer growing season starts.

"It's beautiful up here," Zach says. "A beautiful prison."

*    *    *

The chain saws shred the morning silence shortly after breakfast, followed by the sound of the generator powering the wood chipper parked near the cabin by the river. For the next several hours, everyone on the property, with the exception of Dave, grabs fallen tree branches and tosses them in the chipper, which creates mounds of mulch on the edge of the clearing. The work stops when the drizzling rain, which began midmorning, turns to a downpour. It resumes after lunch, when the sun pokes through the clouds and once again burns off the mist.

Although it's messy, difficult work, everyone's stomach is stuffed, and nobody complains. Last year's crew was another matter entirely, Lucky recalls.

"Some of those guys were just a bunch of fucking whiners," he says. This place is five-star. I mean, look at the house—it's got showers, it's got cable, it's got wireless. What more do you need? A lot of people working up here are lucky to be living in tents all summer and shooting food out in the forest to survive. That crew didn't realize how lucky they had it. Now, they're calling back, trying to get jobs for this summer and being told they aren't needed."

According to Lucky, it takes two to three experienced trimmers all day to trim just 4 pounds of marijuana. That's why, at harvest time, the Emerald Triangle is swollen with hippie kids from all over the country eager to cash in on the hourly wages, knowing full well they'll get to smoke marijuana the entire time and, if they work hard, end up with a nice bonus, like an ounce or so of weed.

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10 comments
concernedparentandtaxpayer
concernedparentandtaxpayer

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana. The current proposal before Congress, bill HR 2306, will allow states to decide how they will regulate marijuana. Email your Congressperson and Senators at http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Ele... and ask them to sign on as a CO-SPONSOR of HR 2306. For more info, here’s the USA Today articlehttp://content.usatoday.com/co... And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom-loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great patriotic service for all of America!

concernedparentandtaxpayer
concernedparentandtaxpayer

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana. The current proposal before Congress, bill HR 2306, will allow states to decide how they will regulate marijuana. Email your Congressperson and Senators at http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Ele... and ask them to sign on as a CO-SPONSOR of HR 2306. For more info, here’s the USA Today articlehttp://content.usatoday.com/co... And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom-loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great patriotic service for all of America!

Keiang
Keiang

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Advocate for Disability Rights
Advocate for Disability Rights

In response to Concerned Citizen's letter, this issue has become very unsettling for the naïve and willfully ignorant.

In the early days of our nation, the hemp plant (a.k.a. cannabis) proved a valuable resource for hundreds of years, instrumental in the making of fabric, paper and other necessities. It is important for citizens to understand that prior to the early 1930’s many of the medicines available to the public were sensibly based on cannabis. It was only after William Randolph Hearst demonized marijuana (because the growing of hemp was cutting into his paper-production profits), that “reefer madness” became the nouveau hysteria. To be clear, society was deprived of this relatively harmless medicinal herb to satisfy the greed of an extremely wealthy and influential newspaper magnate.

Some say they are concerned with abusers. Can anyone describe what a cancer patient or one with AIDS looks like? What about someone who suffers from multiple sclerosis, chronic pain or migraines? Has our population taken up practicing medicine without a license? The reality is that we don’t know what condition people are using medicinal cannabis for any more than we can identify why they might be filling a prescription for Prozac, Vicodin or Morphine (highly addictive drugs) at the local drug store. And, it is not up to us to decide upon medical treatment for another person—that must remain between a doctor and their patient.

Are there abuses? In fact, prescription pain killers, sleep aids and psychotrophic drugs top the list of drug abuse in this nation. Over 100,000 people die from side effects of “legitimate” prescription drugs every year in the U.S. Yet, do we ban or severely restrict pharmacies? Abuses happen in all facets of society, but to deprive people of needed a medication because of those who may misuse it is cruel and inhumane.

When Proposition 215 was passed by the compassionate voters of California in 1996, they asked the state and federal governments to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana. The government has been sorely negligent in this endeavor. The dispensaries and growers have filled in that gap. So, Concerned Citizen if you are angry, call and write to your government officials demanding that they fill this critical need and end the quagmire that they have cultivated.

The one thing that is dreadfully certain in this whole scenario is that each and every one of the readers of our letters will die someday. How they die and how much they or their loved ones will suffer may depend on their access to medical marijuana. Be very careful about what you condemn today, especially that which you may be crying for tomorrow.

Diana LejinsAdvocate for Disability Rights

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Ego
Ego

i'm studying horticulture at fullerton college and know exactly what Dave is talking about :]

Concernedcitizen
Concernedcitizen

This article is about an illegal drug trafficker who hides under the guise of medical marijuana, and "Lucky" should be prosecuted for trafficking over state lines and owning, leasing, or making a property available for the sole intent to "sell or distribute" drugs. Nick you should be ashamed of yourself for spending time with someone who violates state laws as well as federal laws. Lucky claims to be a director of a large Orange County medical marijuana club, then goes on to say that he has "140 pounds sitting in New York right now that's turning to powder because it's not the right strain. I can't move it for any price. Its a quarter of a million dollars worth of shit sitting in Manhattan that nobody can touch, and thats just so fucked up."No whats fucked up is that Nick Schou knows who this person is and won't turn him over to authorities.... (you should be subpoena to find out who is in charge of this large drug trafficking operation)This whole article seems to describe the Continuing Criminal Enterprise law.... and for those who don't know what that is, heres the definition...its a United States federal law that targets large-scale drug traffickers who are responsible for long-term and elaborate drug conspiracies...

Ego
Ego

you are the problem Nick Schou is the solution

 
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