Proposition 64 has passed, legalizing recreational marijuana and making a wet dream come true for many law-abiding hopheads and THC aficionados all over the Golden State. The California “Green Rush” is now in full effect. This development is long overdue, but in light of the other political realities the country is facing right now, it feels like the universe is telling us, “Get stoned, bitches — you’re gonna need it.”
Well before I moved to the gilded West Coast, I always felt that California somehow equaled weed. The state certainly has what is said to be the best in the world, and with demand comes commerce, of course.
As a struggling artist, I’m often a puppet of this gig economy of ours. I looked up one week and noticed my bank account was in the negative, despite the three ongoing freelance jobs I have. I almost began to cry, but remembered that it was fall — which in some places means roasted chestnuts and turkeys and shit like that, but to many a money-starved Bay Area girl-on-the-go like myself, it means two things: weed harvest and also cha-ching!
All the way up in the Northern California towns were farms growing weed shrubs. I was happier than a hooker at a business convention when I got a call saying that some farm needed an extra bud-tender-slash-manicurist-slash-weed-beautician. I got my Greyhound ticket and bolted up to an undisclosed location.
I wasn’t a novice. Back in the day, I had worked for a weed club on Market Street that had closed down at the time because of a federal shutdown and a new loophole in the law that stated that our club was too close to a “school” — said school being a daycare. I guess the Feds were worried about 3-year-olds buying pot from us, but in any case, I learned how to trim weed and make that shit look hella pretty — a skill that I was now going to put to use in some secluded cabin where I was gonna be working some 10 to 11 hours a day.
I enter the Greyhound, and it’s more or less what I expected — 90 percent of the riders look like they’re going to some Humboldt County high school reunion. I haven’t seen that many White people with dreadlocks and tie-dye shirts since … well, since the week before, when I was walking down Haight Street. Not being one to judge (sorta), I quickly sit down and notice how totally swagged out Greyhound has become: leather seats, plug-ins for devices, a bulletproof shield for the driver, and the lack of that shit-meets-Pine Sol smell. I am elated by all the comfort, but it is to be short-lived. The driver of the bus announces over the intercom that smoking marijuana at the rest stop is grounds for being put off the bus, and I can feel a wave of sadness pass over the other passengers.
“This includes vape pens also,” the driver adds. Now I’m starting to feel fucked with.
The bus edges up the highway, and all I can think about is that time that Juggalo got his head cut off on a Greyhound. I look down at my own attire — black skinny jeans and cute black-and-gray flannel — and I’m thankful that I remembered not to dress like a Juggalo. I have enough problems in life without getting decapitated on a Greyhound — like, what a tacky way to go, right? Also, I keep thinking of what I’m gonna do with all my money from trimming weed. I am going to buy a new coat, then pay rent, and then — ironically enough — go buy weed.
The bus makes it to the stop where I am to connect with one of the workers at the farm, who then picks us up to drive another hour to the secluded backwoods location where the operation is taking place. The land is off-the-grid and rumored to be surrounded by farms where men make meth and guard their pot farms with machine guns. I shiver, but this job is still less annoying by far than waiting tables or turning tricks, so I muster up the balls to say “fuck it.”
The rules on the farm are standard: $150 for every pound you clip, you have to shit in a hole in the ground, and since the farm is so off-the-grid, if it rains very heavily or steadily, you could get stuck there for two weeks. Again, I repeat my mantra of “this is less annoying than waiting tables and it beats turning tricks,” but by now I feel like I’m just telling myself this to make myself feel better. In reality, all jobs suck, but the beauty of this job is that it is seasonal and will only drain a negligible part of my soul.
Within two weeks, I’ll be done, stoned, and have enough money to meet November and December’s rent with enough left over to buy my friends drinks at our local pub.
Brontez Purnell has been publishing, performing, and curating in the Bay Area for more than 10 years. He is the author of Johnny Would You Love Me … (If My Dick Were Bigger)? (Rudos and Rubes, 2015). Follow him on Twitter at @youngerlovers and on Instagram at @brontezpurnell.