Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Pot Grow Next Door

Marijuana farmers don't claim to have a farm, but a "grow." We know about this because one, we share a fence with a "grow" and two, Southern Oregon and Northern California - the State of Jefferson - is a premier pot-growing region.

This guy, part of the pot-grower-next-door group, is surrounded by mature marijuana plants,. He looks kinda gnarly, but he doesn't give off bad-guy vibes at all. He's a friendly smiley local who went to high school with our oldest son and now makes a living from one of the Northwest's most sought-after legal products. The money and the goods are in the buds, easily visible at the top of the stalks.
In case you don't keep up with marijuana laws, it is legal to grow and possess pot in Oregon for recreational or medicinal purposes.We're not alone, with Colorado, Washington and Alaska joining the pot renegade movement. But the trend has not exactly resulted in a national change of heart.

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana while 23 other states have eased restrictions, but federal agents are still arresting people caught with the drug in record numbers. During 2014, marijuana arrests skyrocketed with someone being charged with possession every 45 seconds, the FBI announced last week. That’s 1,700 people a day.... Read more » Legalize It: Marijuana ...

So despite the fact that pot is a fact of life here in Oregon, pot is still contraband in much of the USA. I'm sad that taxpayer dollars continue to be spent to catch, prosecute and imprison US citizens who grow or use pot. What a horrific and stupid waste of resources, human and otherwise.  The only threat legal marijuana growers pose is to the Mexican drug cartels, representatives of which I guess are now skipping Oregon, at least for marijuana sales.

We've had a  pot grow next door for going on four years, and it hasn't made a bit of difference to us, except the, uh, aromas, at harvest time. Which is as we speak are wafting my way in great drifts of fragrance. Some would say "blasts of skunk spray." 

It isn't as if we're buddies with the growers. We actually just went over there for the first time a couple days ago.

The fence had held us back. As Robert Frost noted in his beloved poem, Mending Wall, about fences;  Something there is that doesn't love a wall.  Fences are all about barriers.

Those tall solid pot-grow fences did the trick for us. We sometimes parked the tractor near the fence and climbed up on the seat to peek over the fence, curious, but reluctant to intrude, thinking the pot growers next door were secretive and somehow nefarious. We could hear their music and their voices, but without eye contact, we had little to go on.

There's no way to accidentally see a marijuana grow in Oregon because laws insist that all evidence that a grow exists must be hidden behind a tall solid fence. No way to hide the tippy-top buds this time of year, however. So even though you can't see the actual plants most of the growing season, you know the pot is there because of the fences. They are everywhere in southwestern Oregon, which with our Mediterranean climate, is ideal pot cultivation terrain. 

When we visited, I learned that our neighbors started their operation three years ago with medicinal plants and continue to grow for medical marijuana cardholders. By "neighbors" I mean the ones with whom we share a fence, not our other "neighbors" on our one-mile dusty and rutted country road where the "grow" count ranges from five to fifteen, depending upon whom you ask. One tweaker sort of gal who lives near the end of the road, says she thinks there are 17 grows along our road, most of them hidden in the forest.

(I picked her up hitchhiking a few days ago when we had this conversation. She had a day off from cleaning motel rooms. She'd asked to work, but got her day off anyway. What was she going to do? "I have nothing to do," she confessed. " I'll drink my beer (which she'd walked two miles into town to buy) and go to bed." It was before noon. I realize it  seems judgmental to tell that story. But I'm not judging, just feeling sad for a person, who, if she isn't cleaning motel rooms, has nothing to look forward to.)

Mid-October is prime pot harvest and also means "cleaners" are coming from hither and yon to meticulously separate the chaff from the grain, the leaves from the buds. It's only the buds, baby. Everything else is compost. 
Snip, snip, snip. Hours upon hours. Lots of labor goes into producing pot.
We can see the tallest plants and their burgeoning buds from our side of the fence. Smell em, too. 
Control central for watering and fertilziing an estimated three dozen extravagant pot plants exuding a heady, so to speak, aroma that some neighbors complain is skunky. I like the smell. It's rich and earthy. Not unlike strong coffee or diesel fumes.
This year our neighbors grew several varieties in order to avoid having to harvest and clean them all at the same time, which last year drove them to the brink, The colorful names include Blue City Diesel(??), Reserve? I should go over there and look again. Purple Dream, Monkey Balls and several more. The various strains produce a staggered harvest, so to speak.The different varieties are also said to have different medicinal benefits. 

This variety may have a pep-up effect? Or perhaps the name refers to the shape of the buds? 
Or the smell?

They're growing big and they ARE home. Our neighbors. We're OK with them.