By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
“It’s just not worth it for me,” Argos said as he ground the pungent coffee beans.
“I put in around about a grand or so, per plant, not counting labor and love. Breaks my heart to have to let it go for anything less than $1,500 individually. Especially because I know the kids across the valley are picking up my medicine and bringing it to L.A., getting two grand and half for an elbow. Calling it whatever those Hollywood types are smoking these days.”
I sat at his table listening the rain hammering his mountain cabin while Argos hand-cranked the beans into one of those old-fashioned meat grinders.
“It’s getting bad and crazy at the same time,” he told me. “Folks I’ve known who’ve grown for years, through the droughts and the DEAs, are pulling up stakes and leaving.”
Argos stands near one of the huge windows that opens to the valley that is the backyard to his place wiping away some of the condensation on the glass with the back of his shirt.
”You can’t see a ranch over there about two miles to our south because of the trees, and the mist covering the hills, but that small dot over there… they’re leaving. I don’t even know if they’ve sold their place. They’re like out of here. Pulling stakes, leaving the cow and the welcome mat behind.”
“Who knows, couldn’t sell last year’s harvest. Mites, spiders, fungus might have destroyed their crop because they waited too log unsure of where the market’s going., rip-offs, can’t tell these days. I’m hearing more stories of partners ripping each other off. Here’s the most common story of the day; Hey Man, I know I promised 25 per pound when I picked up the five-pack, but when I got to ______, the dude would only give me 21-5.”
Argos was pouring hot water into the filtered cones on top of our cracked, well-worn, big-boy mountain mugs spreading the aroma of Argos’s world famous Joe throughout the redwood cabin.
|Photo: Tribune Weekly Chronicle|
”Traditionally, you or somebody takes your medicine and plays broker, middleman for you. Unless you’re distributing it yourself, which hardly anyone really does, I mean drive it over in your family truck, you have a person who does your deliveries.
“That’s the way it’s always been. There are other ways, but this is the way it’s been done for decades. Most of are too busy to live the farm. It’s just physics. So you have a bud that helps you in that direction. Now what happens is when your trusted friend returns with the compensation for your crop, more and more are returning with the story that once I was on the guy’s doorstep, he said he’d only pay three-quarters of the price that we agreed upon yesterday. Take it or leave.”
That is brutally harsh.
“That’s the way it is now up here. Nobody’s getting their price and then at the same time, I hear some that are making a killing in Mr. Nice, y’know the bud with the those tight small buds. Couldn’t give that shit away two years ago, now with along with anything that has the name, Purple, Kush or Charlie Sheen, it’s gonna move. Add Mr. Nice to the current rage. It’s crazy what’s selling.
|Photo: Cafe Press|
After taking a few sips of maybe some of the best coffee I’ve ever had — it might have been the goat’s milk creamer that added a certain country feel — but I was smacking on some beans that Starbucks or Peet’s wishes they could sell.
That’s the thing of the Triangle; no matter how good the medicine is in the dispensaries or what the black market dealers are selling, still the best marijuana will always be in someone’s hand-built cabin in Mendo or Humboldt. We get really good shit in the Bay Area, but the really, really good stuff-stays close to home.
It’s called Pride. Whatever these guys up there are growing, primarily Numero Uno is selling your crop so you can grow again next year. Right up there with that, is showing your neighbor that your bud is better than theirs. The best stuff up there is sitting in glass jars that only few get to see.
Needless to say, after savoring a few cups of the best tasting brew that a mountain man can make, I sat on the a bench in front of the cabin’s doorway watching the mist fade with the afternoon sun when Argos produced a jar with stalks poking out like a handshake to a stoner.
|Photo: The 4:20 Shack|
”Why don’t you help yourself to as much as that as you want. Then tell me what you think. I got to check my water levels and cut some wood to bring in. I’ll be back in a few.”
I went back inside to where the Raws were lying on the rolling tray and proceeded to do what I do best. Taste and record.
Just as I was wondering if Time can really shift, shouldn’t it be able to bend like a rolled up piece of paper, turning the time-continuum into a cone, where going back into Time should be as easy as stepping onto a child’s carousal when I heard a voice…
“What do you think of that stuff?”
“Okay, I think I have my answer.”
Yeah, Argos, it’s good. The taste is there and it is definitely stony.
“Let me show you something.”
Argos pulls a tiger balm container out and opens the lid to show me what’s inside.
|Photo: Plant Feed Shop|
There’s seeds. Marijuana seeds.
“You know how much seeds go for now?”
Today’s growers use clones.
“Not the old school types up here, we’re raised on Burpee’s,… we love our seeds.” Argos laughs. “We’re nothing but old farmers here. But seriously, with seeds you cut down on mold and other bad stuff. Seeds are better. Plus, you know how much they get for seeds in Amsterdam?”
“Yeah, it’s big money. Then when you buy ten for forty bucks, maybe only three grow and one of them turns out to be a guy. So out of ten seeds, you get two females. It happens.”
That’s a drag.
“What did you think of that smoke?” Argos says pointing to the stub of a cannon teetering on the ashtray.
It was good. Actually Arg, it was really good.
“You see those seeds in that jar? They came from that cannabis.”
Now if you are like me and being of a certain age, bigger than landing on the moon or when Dylan went electric, was the day someone invented sinsemilla. When we no longer needed a Rolling Stone magazine, record album or shoebox cover to roll with, our world had changed.
In addition, we found out that the pot that came without seeds was 20 times better than the swag that had seeds. So from then on, marijuana with seeds was always judged as being less than.
Are you telling me that this highly creativity inducing medicine arrived with balls intact? And it’s actually this good?
“Now my friend, imagine if you could buy some medicine with a THC count of say somewhere between 19 and 25 percent, and it has seeds. You could smoke the medicine and sell the seeds. The weed would pay for itself. And if you have any expertise…you could have a small garden in the backyard, no charge.”
Argos stood looking down at me like he had found the Fountain of Youth.
Is this your stuff?
“No, this is from a guy who let his crop go to seed and was going to almost throw it out. I took it at very good rate.”
I took another hit and let it expand for a while.
Argos, this is very good. It makes my head hurt because I’ve always associated bad pot with seeds. I feel like worlds are colliding. Could this lead me to voting Republican?
“No, my friend, this is Mendo, 2011. Everyone’s looking for a way out of the economic slump we’re in. There’s too much medicine and no one’s buying. The ones who are, they are virtually ripping us off, taking advantage of a downed market. I’m too old to make Hash or some bullshit tincture or produce a line of some magic Debbie Drake’s edibles.
“To survive up here for the next couple of years, you’re choice is to either sit on your crop and wait for the market to let up. Or plant tomatoes instead of O.G. Purple Kush. Or worse yet, give up on dream and everything you’ve worked for in the last 20 years. Just walk away like you can move to Missouri and do this there. Good luck.
“For me, I’m looking into a brand new market. Imagine the ad, ‘Get the best medicine there is, now with SEEDS!’ “
I left Argos’s place buzzed to the brim on coffee, clean green bud, and the old adage, “Everything that is old is new again.”
Seeds in my weed. The more things change, the more they stay…
It’s All Happening.
|Photo: Jack Rikess|
|Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco.|
Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at jackrikess.com.
Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.
His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.
He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.