I Grew Reefer To Pay My Student Loanthe true and first person tale of growing pot for profit in a basement in East Vancouver BC
I Grew Reefer To Pay My Student Loan - 1.9 MB - 6:37 mp3
There are 8000 marijuana grow-ops in the Lower Mainland corridor according to a report released by the RCMP in June 2002. That's a far cry from the 3000 estimated operations considered outrageous 3 years ago when I got out of the pot farming business. From 1997 to '99 I kept a 10 by 10 marijuana grow-op in my basement in East Vancouver.
I made my first stab at cash crop farming in the bush near Prince Albert Saskatchewan. All summer I counted the dollars I'd be earning from the 100 or so plants I had dotted around a friend's back 40. But like 1000s of broken hearts and hopeless summers before mine in that country, the crop was a bust, felled by an early frost, and I was driven back to Vancouver to toil yet again.
But rents are high in the city, and jobs are hard to come by and harder to stand. Clearly indoors was the way to go. I was shown the craft by a friend, an older Quebecoise who had been growing pot indoors for many years and indeed had raised her own daughter on the income it provided. She loaned me money for gear, brought in her electrician and supplied me with my first batch of clones for a total capital cost of $372.00. Instead of one big annoying roommate we got 12 sexy green ladies to help with the bills. I was a natural gardener and took to it right away and 15 weeks later brought off my first crop of BC primo, 1 pound and change of the finest, irie-est stickiest buds you ever did see. The price was high then. I sold the pound to a dealer for $3200 and the rest of it - I smoked.
A couple of young marrieds can burn through that kind of money pretty quick, which we did, and 15 weeks later we had another kick at the jackpot wad.
There was barely a grow shop in every neighbourhood let alone the 521 advertised in the Vancouver yellow pages ln 2002. But there were enough and they had the products and the expertise to aid the hobbyist cultivator or seasoned pro.
Growing pot indoors can be a high science hydroponic operation with complex feeding programs and ph alchemy, or it can be as simple as a few pots of dirt, a 1000 watt light and a fan. The plant grows in two stages, a vegetative and a flowering stage dictated by an 18 or 12 hour light period. Given enough water, light and time, nature does most of the work. Still the plants require daily care, proper feeding, flushing, pruning, training, staking, cajoling, imploring, worry, worry, worry and finally harvest.
This is not back alley stinkweed brought indoors out of the rain. While the grass your mom and Pierre Berton were smoking measured in around 3% thc, today it's well over 32% and climbing thanks to some dedicated hybridization efforts by the sultans of a pop culture that celebrates life, love and big bong hits.
There's another large and efficient circle dominated by a criminal element of Hells Angels and Asian gangs in much the same way that Disney and the Royal Bank have muscled to the top of their respective cartels. Big dollars always draw an unsavoury crowd.
They run huge mechanized operations, filling houses and warehouses with banks of hydro-cooled lights and industrial fans. Like other agribusiness they're willing to sacrifice quality for production. Massive amounts of chemicals are sprayed or fed to the plants to produce bigger prettier buds and fight the insects and moulds that can wipe out a crop.
While the report showed the average bust yielded 166 plants and 4+ kilos of reefer, there are plenty of operations like ours running at a 10th of that, effectively ignored by the police in favour of bigger fish. Most of that production stays in town, consumed with delight by the hundreds of thousands of habitual users and east to the rest of Canada who could just as easily be growing their own back there. In fact, if I was looking at another season at $4.10 a bushel I might just drive the combine out of the barn and into the river to make room for some prairie thunder of my own.
I hear tell of debate regarding the issue, but from where I stand the people have already spoken. And when you count those 8000 grow-houses, you'd better count the 8000 high-paying low-skill jobs that go with them, never mind the 521 grow shops and their employees, the clippers, the plumbers, the electricians, the Sunshine Grower's mix and other fertilizer companies, and the cops who bust the houses and trucks who haul it all away.
I figure they can just keep bickering about whether or not it should be legal and we'll just keep acting like it is. I'm Larry "Al" Monte on Vancouver Island