Into the Emerald Triangle

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

At the end of last year's harvest, Anton and Lucky realized their trimmers had left more than 50 pounds of decent pot lying on the cutting-room floor simply because they were too lazy to trim it. The buds didn't go to waste; now, they're being rolled into joints several times per day and are expected to last through the summer. "You have to have a small, tight, trustworthy team," Lucky says. "You don't want a mutiny on your hands, or people ripping you off, or maybe just taking off and telling the cops. It takes a lot of fucking work to run a farm like this."

Just as important as worker morale, Lucky says, is making sure the plants remain healthy and produce the highest-yield crop possible. This is the job of Dave the horticulturalist, who speaks in a soft, mid-Atlantic accent and always seems to have a pair of fingernail-trimming scissors in his hand, whether to clip unproductive branches off the pot plants he's growing or to snip up a joint's worth of weed when his work is done.

Dave has his portable stereo turned up so the plants can hear the Puccini opera he's playing above the deafening roar outside. He explains that the 5-foot-to-6-foot plants that fill the three greenhouses were all tiny plants just 6 inches tall only four months ago; these are the Sour Diesel clones, which Lucky instructed him to reproduce. To clone a marijuana plant, Dave explains, you clip a branch from the original containing three or four nodes, dip the twig in a rooting-hormone solution, clip the leaves to prevent them from sucking up too much water in the crucial first few days, and finally scrape the bottom of the stem to create injuries, which help the plant develop roots.

While the clones in the greenhouse are now almost ready for flowering, the next crop of clones is spread out on the deck and in the basement of the house, in dozens of 50-cube trays, each square containing a pinch of soil and a single clone. The soil, Dave says, is called Formula 707—after an Emerald Triangle area code—and in the greenhouse, each plant is in a camouflaged plastic sack made by a Sacramento-based company called, appropriately enough, Camo Pots, which also has a small shipping office in Costa Mesa.

"This is as tall as the plants will get," Dave says. "We're pruning for production, high yield, and for airflow to prevent mold and diseases, so these plants are shorter and wider, with more terminal ends that have energy flowing to them. Right now, we're doing preventative care, so I'm pruning out insignificant growth that won't make much of a bud and is taking energy away from the rest of the plant."

In about a week, the plants will be ready for "light-dep," pot-growing parlance for light-deprivation therapy. Because 12 hours is the magic amount of time plants need to begin flowering, the strategy is to use as much natural light as possible to provide a half-day of light, and then, when 12 hours is up, to immediately cover the plants under a plastic tarp, thereby tricking them into thinking it's now almost autumn, and therefore time to reproduce, which, in the case of pot, means to blossom into sticky buds.

"If you do this right, you get your crop earlier than you would otherwise," Dave says. "With two people and a decent system of winches and pulleys, it's pretty easy to do. And then in three months, you have big, beautiful, sticky buds, and all you have to do is dry them, cure them and trim them."

Dave has been at the farm since last fall, just after the outdoor harvest had ended. He has rarely left the property, although once, during the spring rainy season, he came close to driving up the mountain when the river began to flood. "If you have the right personality, it's a lovely place to be," he says. "You're out in the woods, secluded. It's 6 miles to the main road, 3 miles up and 3 miles down. I've spent days here without even thinking of leaving."

Whether the farm can provide Dave and the rest of the workers with a living ultimately depends on Lucky's ability to sell the weed once it has been successfully harvested. Although the level of quality of the marijuana depends on countless factors, it helps to ensure the clones belong to the correct strain to begin with.

"There is nothing worse than spending six months of your time, money and effort on a crop, only to realize you're growing the wrong fucking strain," Lucky says, and it's clear he's speaking from experience. "I have 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. It's a quarter-of-a-million dollars' worth of shit sitting in Manhattan that nobody can touch, and that's just so fucked-up."

*    *    *

The foreman of the chain saw crew, Red, a lanky giant from Santa Cruz with sinewy arms and a weather-beaten face, is covered in sweat and sawdust. He's standing on the deck of the main house, examining his day's work now that the sun is starting to set in the exact spot he'd predicted, newly devoid of redwoods and open to the light. Red and Lucky are guzzling Bud Lights. Red is Lucky's cousin; he jokes that he's not necessarily the best trimmer in the Yellow Pages, but with an underground operation like this, you can't just let your fingers do the walking and hire anyone in the book.

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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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