Bear-ly Legal: When Marijuana Growers Learn The Bear Facts


Graphic: Marijuana Muscle

By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Argos called me last week to see if his writer friend wanted to learn how to make Humm Tea. The first time I heard of Humm Tea, I thought it was Humboldt’s version of an Arnie Palmer. A local beverage that was probably infused with something medicinal that you’d take with natural sugar.
Imagine my surprise when I learn that Humm Tea, or Compost Tea, was a natural concoction made from guano or some other form of doodie that is blended and stirred while adding some other naturally elements like banana skins for potassium for around thirty-six hours. This living growing breathing shake is then sprayed on plants for a variety of reasons and applications.

Because Argos’s garden is so fully lush and green, he’s making this up for a friend as a favor. Once the Humm Tea is done, the friend has about two days to get the stuff out and onto whatever he plans on using it for.

Compost tea barrel

​Compost Tea has its roots in the wine industry. They’ve been making this shit for more than a hundred years. But since the hippies got a hold of the notion in the Sixties, Humm Tea has really taken off. 
I was standing around watching the tea drum rotate when Argos answered his cell. There were a lot of “ah-huh’s” and “Hmmm, okay…I get it,” and nodding as Argos and I watched the tea foam and slightly bubble as the drum turned tossing the shit around like a bacteria laden soup.
When he slapped the phone closed he said, “There’s a b’ar loose somewhere close.” 
“Great,” I said. “And there’s a manhunt for a killer who hiding somewhere between here and Ft. Bragg. This is going to be a fun trip.” I was thinking about how much gas I had left in my rental’s tank after driving up the mountain.
“It’s your b’ar too,” he chortles, mocking my citified ways.

Jack Rikess

​Last year Argos took me deep into the woods on the edge of the natural forest to someone’s private property to show me a grow that some misguided growers had trespassed on, grew and then abandoned. These ‘Wall Street Growers‘, who thought they were going to get rich growing marijuana, had left behind trailers, canvas 40×40 Army-issued tents, plus mountains of emptied plastic bags that had once contained additives, soil and fertilizers and tons of other debris that the newbies humped in but left in their wake.
The worst was all the empty beer and soda pop cans. Food wrappers and cooking grease discarded in open containers and used peanut butter jars were also left on unseemly display.
By the time Argos had taken me to this Grow Gone Bad, bears had overrun the compound. The campers and trailers were slit open like Wolverine had been through here on a bender. It was Edward Scissorhands on speed. Every imaginable closure had been opened with ease by big claws and a hungry appetite.

Daily Prosecutor

​This is one of the reasons bears come to leave their normal habitat and enlarge their trolling sectors. It is because of us, the humans who draw them out. For the most part, we’re in their woods.
“It seems the b’ar has taken a shine to a local old-time grower’s house who’s been ripping off anyone he comes in contact with…He’s been doing it for years.”
Who was that on the phone?
“The local grower.”
The rip-off guy?
“Yeah, he’s got a b’ar pawing on the outside of his house…wanting to come in. Wants me to kill it.”
What are you going to do?
“I don’t know. You can’t blame the bear. To them, it’s like every year, a new Wendy’s or McDonald’s is opening near their home. These growers that don’t know shit, coming up here…having no idea what to expect…except that they want to make money. Don’t forget…these get-rich growers leave in the autumn…”
Argos looks at me like I don’t know anything.
He got nothing.

​”Bears are at their hungriest two times a year. Springtime, after they’ve woken up from hibernation…and fall, when they’re eating like…like a bear. They’re like a construction worker in a bar on a Friday night at closing time. They’re working it… building up for hibernation. Bears are biologically propelled to fatten up for winter. They are hungry and they’ll do anything to get their carbs.”
What about the growers?
“Hell, you ever see me feed my dog on the porch? Nope. You won’t. You gotta keep all your food indoors. I don’t have an outside refrigerator. All my trash is locked up… “
What are the new growers doing wrong?
“Besides for the fact that they grow for money…For centuries, bears have been hunting these mountains and valleys. They’re content with berries, grubs and whatever else they can catch. Now these humans are here growing. They bring in soda pop and beer that’s full of sugar. Have you ever tried to give up sugar? Food for their dogs. Bears love dog food. Your fertilizers? Bone meal and fish emulsion. Why not put some cheese on a Ritz while you’re at it?”
I got it.
“These growers set never concerning themselves with what’s around them. I heard of some L.A. dudes who had a Nine for protection. A nine-millimeter barely gets their attention.”

How many bears have you killed around here?
“Five…total,” Argos says blowing some of his cigarette smoke ceremonially to the heavens.

Mendo News

​”Once, the rich couple that live up over on that far ridge had a bear attack their winter escape tricked-out RV. He then stayed for a while. Sadly, he had to go. But it’s mostly the new growers in the valley and over there closer to the National Forest that brought them in. Then a neighbor, like what happened today, gives a call to get rid of a bear.”
How does it work?
“Someone calls me to say there’s been a bear attack. They then call Fish and Game. Fish and Game does an investigation. If they deem the bear dangerous, I’m issued a depravation permit to hunt down and kill the bear.”
You’ve got five so far…
 Sounds kinda dangerous…
“Yep. A bear has no fear when hungry. No forbearance of his death. I once was going after this b’ar. It shot off down the valley; I could see it was going to the top of the other side. A six hundred foot climb. I called my neighbor to say a bear was on its way and to be careful. The bear was there in fifteen minutes. I followed him. It took me three and half hours to cover the same distance. They take twelve- foot steps at a time. Three steps are thirty-six feet. They’re fast mothers.”
What are you going to do about this bear?
“I think I know this old b’ar. He’s got a white face…cause he’s old. I’ve seen him around here before. This is his land!
“You don’t get to be an old bear unless you’re smart. That guy who called…he’s ripped off every trimmer to come his way.I heard he’d carpet-bagged a lot of the Moms and Pops last year when the crops were going cheap. And he’s bad to his dog.”
Argos watched the Humm Tea churn and said,” I don’t think I’m gonna do anything. I think I like the bear more than I like Mr. Fancy-pants.” 
So my buddy Argos and I stood in the shade of a hot afternoon watching a boring drum circulate while a big cinnamon-colored bear somewhere continued to get fat for winter.

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

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.