Living Outside The Marijuana Laws: The Duality Of Honesty


Kenny’s Sideshow

By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
To live outside the law, you must be honest.
~ Bob Dylan
Welcome to the duality of honesty. 
Clancy is a master-grower. He lives deep up on one of those canyon drives that seems so off the beaten path that it’s hard to believe someone actually lives there.  Barely in his 30s, Clancy’s a kid in terms of the hills and cultivation, but unlike many of his youthful contemporaries, he studies the old ways.

There are rumors that today’s third generation growers doesn’t care squat about growing in the sun. That the kids today will go indoor, outdoor, light deprivation, green house, even in a warehouse: It’s said that they grow to follow the money. 

Hemp Beach TV

​Not Clancy; he’s an outdoor, green-growing brother-man, who’s learned from the Sages and those who came before him, earning Clancy the respect from those many generations older and wiser. 
I think it was the beginning of November when he and I last spoke. Most of his neighbors were crying over their trichomes after an unseasonable five days of rain, the result being a vast infestation of mold and mildew that hit the North Country, wiping out harvests and crops.
When it rains, it pours up there. If you’re growing tight monster buds the size of pineapples, once that moisture gets in between two membranes, that’s it, game over, if you don’t act fast. It’s a fact, without the benefit of drying sun to burn-away the icky, a year’s fortune can be literally lost over night.
Clancy didn’t lose his crop the way many did. When the unusual rain hit, he ‘topped’ his crop. He went and clipped-off all the top buds. Immediately they were put into the drying and curing phase. The lower tiers of buds were not as dense as the topsy’s so the moisture was able to continue on the path of of least resistance unable to make a budstop at Senor Major Colas. Clancy, by being smart, was able to come through this season with a substantial crop while many others are worried about food and rent. 
Speaking of being smart, there are many mistakes to be made in a person’s life before the whole wisdom thing kicks in. Clancy’s isn’t any different. A little after his 21st birthday, Clancy was popped for cultivation. Not to get all police blotter about the past, let’s just say Clancy was arrested for what the law at the time considered a large amount and the punishment was severe.

Marin Independent Journal
Lynnette Shaw

​Besides for being a family-man, holding an encyclopedia-like knowledge of cultivation, being an incredible graphic artist and working as a volunteer firefighter, Clancy’s a felon.
And somehow today, that’s good thing.
This past week, I didn’t do anything I was supposed to do.  I didn’t go to the sheriff’s department meeting in Ukiah where the end of the 9.31 program was announced. Even thought I pretty much knew what was going to happen, as a journalist, I should have gone is to get quotes from the growers and the police on their predictions of what’s next.
I should have gone over to Tony Serra’s law office for an article I’m in the process of doing on the legendary Bay Area attorney and his protégé, the fastest-rising Cannabinoid Queen of the West, Kyndra Miller. I should have but I didn’t.
I’m working on the poor Chris Diaz story. About the unfortunate youth who is languishing away in a Texas jail because of the crime of being naïve when it comes to fat cops.
Saturday night I should have gone to support the ever vigilant Pebbles Trippet at a fundraiser in the Oakland Hills for the ‘Repeal 2012 Initiative.’ 
They needed money and people. I didn’t make it.
I’m having a hard time with cannabis.

The Weed Blog

​I worry about my friends like Lynnette Shaw who lost her dispensary, Marin Alliance. How do you pick up the pieces after a lifetime of giving yourself over to a cause and movement that you believed in and supported you, no matter how meager? What’s next for them?
I’m worried about the farmers up north who are getting around 8 or 9 a pound, barely enough to keep going. 
San Francisco declared they wouldn’t be issuing any new permits for dispensaries as had been discussed. Now that the State of California has dropped, because of budgetary reasons, America’s largest law enforcement task force, C.A.M.P.; Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. The word is now circulating that the DEA’s going to pick up the tab for the black helicopters and goon squads that infiltrate the forests and hills of Triangle. Another budget crisis averted.
Then to bum me out a little more, a local, once cutting-edge weekly — not the S.F. Weekly — did a cover story called, “The State of Weed.” The cover story ran three pages with ads. Two of the pages were listings of delivery services and other faux-advertisements. 
That one page story of where cannabis is today in San Francisco said it all. No one knows. We’re on hold until…something happens.
That’s what it feels like.
And of course with all this shit coming down, two more states are talking about legalization and Arizona may actually have to open the doors to the dispensaries that the voter’s asked for several years back. 
It is like 12 doors slam shut, sometimes with the proprietor’s fingers in the jamb, while two windows open slightly to access the gentle breeze of decriminalization. 
Such as it is with Cannabis, Medicine in the Year of Our Lord, 2012.

The North Coast Curmudgeon

​Once again I’ve digressed, mostly talking about me. That’s not what this is about. This is about Clancy and another friend of mine who is a grower; we’ll call him, “Honest Abe.” 
That’s more biblical than presidential.
Honest Abe once lived in the darkness and then he heard the sheriff’s voice say, “Abe, come out from the underbrush! Leave your trespasses grow behind? Lo, venture forth into a new land that I promise will be different. And in this land you will be able to plant your crop. You will be fruitful and there should be a river of wealth and taxes.” 
Abe looked up into the heavens, questioning the new voice that sounded eerily similar to the voices of the past that used to arrest him for what they’re asking him to do now, but, he was curious. 
“Sounds great. Could there be any catches?”
The Voice of Authority responded, “A few.”
After 40 years of farming behind enemy lines, in the black of day, humping and carrying supplies to remote gardens in the middle of nowhere, even being suspicious of the new voice, Abe put down his tools to listen.
The Voice cleared his throat and said, “You’ll have to pay the county for the right to grow. A nice check will go to the county for permits and then something like 60 dollars per plant, and you can have up to ninety-nine.”

The Puffington Host

​Abe goes, “Okay…That seems fair.”
“One last thing, no one’s ever done this before. You’d have to follow me into unchartered territories and you’d be on a list that the Federal Government would give up any number of civil rights for.” 
Abe had always been hoping to hear a voice like this. You could say that he and others like Honest Abe dreamt of the day when a voice from above would reach out to the growers and farmers of the Triangle for a solution to the challenge of living in a world that is predicated on the economy of cannabis, yet not allowed to thrive.
So Abe and 100 or so of his flock came out of the shadows, stepped up to the plate, and for two to three years grew cannabis legally.
Now the Feds have said, “I don’t care what you think, what you’ve done, who you think you are, the paperwork you’ve filed, the local taxes you’ve paid: As far we’re concerned, you are all illegal.”
Okay. The Federal Government has spoken. The State of Weed is down to a one-sheet.
Okay, you’ve won.
But dig this.
I spoke to Honest Abe over the weekend. He is really scared. In the beginning of 2011, Honest Abe was part of a collective that was allowed to legally grow for a dispensary. I mean, how else are legitimate dispensaries able to procure their medicine? Abe grew his plants for the collective. Like any other business he collected receipts and kept books. Abe had planned to file his taxes for 2011, including income from medicine sales, payments to trimmers and other expenses. 

The 420 Times

​Now the Feds have Abe in their sights. Abe who ran legit biz growing cannabis in the eyes of his local municipality for three years is now alone when it comes to support from the local constabulary.
After years of keeping most of his paperwork in a cigar box, Abe had hired a bookkeeper. Abe thought in order for the Voice’s program to be successful, it was incumbent upon Abe to keep a profit and loss statement to show he could run a business like any other thriving enterprise.  Now that paperwork could be used against him. The records and his books, his attempt to go straight, is now the evidence of a smuggler and dope dealer.
When I asked Abe what is he going to do about claiming a profit or if prodded, what would he say to the Feds if they came a knocking. “I have to tell them the truth. I lost everything to mold and mildew. Sorry my Uncle Sam, I lost everything investing in a new future that most of my friends said I was stupid for joining. Like most of the citizens here, I’m now broke.”
That is all Honest Abe can do at this point. 
Meanwhile, because of Clancy’s arrest record, he was precluded from being allowed to join the Voice’s program. Clancy was forced to stay within the confines of a Black Market.
While others gave up connections, years of ganja networking and old world practices to come out and grow openly for the medical marijuana industry, some like Clancy did business the old-fashioned way: In a Safeway parking lot, two trunks open, money and matter exchanged silently as the rest of America does it’s shopping.
I don’t think the state of weed is as chaotic as it seems. It would just be a hell of lot easier if we could be honest about what we’re doing. 
Welcome to 2012 and it’s not even February. 

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.