The so-called, “Billion Dollar Industry”

The Unjust Pay System in the Marijuana Industry

As an observer of the marijuana community, a question pops up all too often that has everyone wondering, where is all the money at? We have hard-working employees, males, and females, who work long hours, which are not afraid to get their hands dirty. So, where is the profit with all the planting? As COVID brings marijuana sales to a record high while dispensaries remain open as an essential business, why do farm workers remain at the bottom of the pay scale?

The real reason the grower and the owner can’t see eye to eye. A worker goes on to a farm, helps them turn their harvest to an abundant green yield, and in the end, their pay comes late, scarce, and more work is expelled without a full payout up to that point. Bonuses are promised but never seen. What once was a decent paying job, the worker finds themselves waiting for their pay, unmotivated to work, and easily replaceable with the next willing participant. Where did this mom and pops, family valued, hippie ‘ love and peace,’ grow community, one might think they are stepping into, go? It went to corporate America.

Yes, the men with ties and suits are to blame. Even if the owner thinks they are the big shoot, spending outside of their means on music equipment, big cars, and overextended vacations, here’s the catch- that money isn’t there. Corporate America is making the so-called billions in the billion-dollar industry. So much of the profit goes into taxes that the once hippie-dippie landowner is now hanging with rappers, sporting an image they can’t afford. While white market owners can’t value their pounds half of what the black market can, none of this money dwindles to the grower. The lead grower is being worked to the bone, and his profits directly reflect the owner’s value in people. As the quality withers, prices and pay drop slowly, the farmworkers starve while the owner keeps his appearance.

Marijuana was legalized in California in November 2016. Growers didn’t have great expectations for this. It was expected to take away thousands of pot dealers’ jobs by bringing the marijuana industry into businesses. What did this mean to the grower? What many Americans might have assumed would keep thousands of pot growers outside of jail, growers had to face a new reality, now they had to follow the rules, regulations, and worse of all, pay taxes or be subjected to raids and fines. As growers race to get permits, many growers end up taking the easier way out and remaining black market.

So how does this affect the ones growing the weed? White/ Black, “whatever” market, growing weed isn’t like working at Carl’s JR, but the pay of a lead farmer isn’t far off from the income of being hired off the street at a Carl’s JR. The skills of the marijuana grower are being undermined in an industry that is holding onto nickel and dime compared to pre-legalization, where the industry was about helping the little guys out, not using them. Farmers with years of skill are treated like basic laborers, and even the white market players are getting away with not paying their employees what their worth is.

So how to fix this problem? Illuminate the greed and go back to the root. Project owners should appreciate the person growing their weed. We’re not talking about a robot. The farmhand is a human being growing medicinal plants to help people heal. The handling of marijuana influences its outcome, and if we grow weed like we farm our meat, we will all end up glutenous.

Happy Cows come from Happy Farms. Happy Plants come from Happy Farmers.

Staffing companies pocket 20-30 percent of the worker’s pay in exchange for legal paperwork, including paychecks, benefits, and HR work. The farms might have their employees covered, but those employees don’t see the benefits. Their pay becomes minimal, and they are once again replaceable. To solve this, farm owners can’t just be suits and jackets. They have to have humility and care for their workers. Their workers, in return, will care about the outcome of their product. And how do we get the owner to care for their worker? By lowering taxes so that they are not stretched so thin, they too are just looking for the next dollar to keep the farm afloat. Let them keep their facade image, which may never change, but do it so that they can pay their farmer and put food on the table for their families. Then, add a structured pay scale for positions on farms. As the government recognizes this industry, its positions should be recognized and compensated adequately. Like any business, starting laborer shouldn’t be paid the same as long-term workers, transparency about weight and numbers should be available, bonuses shouldn’t just be a dream, and lead farmers should be paid for their skills and knowledge, not the equivalent of a fast-food worker with no experience. Last of all permanent employment shouldn’t be waved in front of staff like a golden ticket, without any winner.

Otters in Trinidad Bay, CA

I was thrilled to see otters in Trinidad Bay swimming in a small pack. I thought I saw a family of otters. I have come to learn that they must have been either a female or male pack since this species practices “sexual segregation.” Besides otters being adorable, they help protect the kelp forest. They are a keystone species; without them, the ecosystem will collapse—a genuine threat after otters were overfished in the nineteenth century, skinned for their fur. I can only imagine how many kelp forests would cease to exist if this happened, not to mention the abundant ecosystem in Trinidad Bay. It was an honor to watch these beautiful creatures swimming along the cliff from the Trinidad Pier.

There’s a lot of information about sea otters, so let’s do a little sea otter 101. 2005 in Trinidad Bay, Scott Shannon observed five generations of otters. As I mentioned before, otters are segregated by gender. The females swim in a hierarchy, while the males live communally and share who leads the team. Little Mama was the oldest of the otters Scott Shannon observed. She died at fourteen years old (breaking a record.) Three out of four otter pups don’t survive outside of infancy. Unlike other marine mammals, otters do not have blubber, so they clean their fur to keep insulated. The otters are hunted for their fur, but the pollution from waste and fishing is a leading cause of death.

Trinidad has a protected, giant kelp forest located at Trinidad Head. The kelp forest is home to thousands of species creating a diverse ecosystem for our fishy friends! Otters eat urchins, which eat kelp and quickly dominate coral reefs. With the protection of the otters, kelp forests thrive. Without otters, the ocean’s ecosystem is not balanced. This aquatic paradise in Trinidad is protected from waste and pollution. Extra precautions are met for the safety of the ecosystem and its otters.

These intelligent animals keep a distance from people after being hunted for generations. Yet, it isn’t unheard of for the youngins in Trinidad Bay to take a liking to people watching. Perhaps the cleanest ocean puppy, otters are animals to love and appreciate. Without them, we may not have the life-giving kelp forests that we see in Northern Humboldt today.

2 Months Postpartum

I struggle as a full-time breastfeeder. I half formula feed (organic) and half breastfeed. I could cry about this, but I try not to. Every mom has a different story, and the best thing I can do for myself is not compare myself to other mothers. I try to do the best I can do.

My baby sleeps in the bed between us. We hold each other tight every night. When placed in the crib, he will wake up and cry till I clean him and bring him back into our bed. His little body cups my chest, eyes closed and mouth slightly open. When he falls asleep before me in the rocker, I have my husband put him in the bassinet, and it takes every ounce of my control not to bring him into the bed with me. Learning separation and independence is a two-way street. 

I can’t seem to find the motivation to leave the house, and my workouts have dwindled to a couple of hours a week in my home. On my IG is beautiful California mamas that have boomeranged back into shape after birth. I know I want to do more, but I feel so tired, unlike the rushes of energy I got throughout my pregnancy. I am a couch potato. 

My postpartum may not be drastic, but some things are different, and it’s taking me a while to adjust. Every moment with the baby is precious, as well as every moment without him. As soon as I put the baby down, I run to the bathroom, grab a cup of tea or get a little bit of laundry folding in. I don’t have a lot of time to sit around and mope.

I need to do more, seems to be the driving narrative in my mind, but there isn’t much to do now. I couldn’t imagine being away from my child for an 8-hour work shift. I don’t know how we’d survive. I need his coos and his touch as much as he needs my breast. I’m left to work odd jobs and particular hours.

My postpartum journey has just begun, but I gladly accept the negatives and the positives as I float through it. I find myself without direction or lacking motivation. These obstacles don’t stop me from balancing being the best mom possible while supporting my family and caring for my oldest. 

I stay sane by utilizing my support team and taking time for myself. I have an old classmate I zoom with weekly, and even though I miss many appointments, we always share our goals and encourage each other throughout the week to achieve them. Family has come to visit and each grandmother has had the magical touch of calming baby down and rocking him to sleep. On a normal day when the baby’s sleeping, I do an hour workout, and I either pause the video or my walk to cater to the baby’s cries. I write down in a notebook ideas, unique designs, or thoughts. I execute art projects, career goals, and personal projects with my family, using the different skills of my husband and daughter to overcome any challenges. 

When the baby wakes, I first try to breastfeed him. I will put on a television show but end up just staring intensely into his eyes. I set up breastfeeding stations with either books, television, drawing tools, and water bottles around the house. I get so thirsty when I breastfeed. 

We work on elimination communication together, and so far, we have been able to catch a handful of pees and a poop. I like that I respond when he makes potty faces instead of letting him “go” in his diaper. It’s a long path, but I’m glad we have begun responding to his potty faces by putting him on a top hat toilet and making the cue sounds. 

At the end of the day, it’s little achievements. I have found myself slowing down incredibly after my pregnancy routine. I can see where this could lead to depression- thoughts that I’m not enough, contributing enough, showing up enough for friends and family. Still, it’s not like that at all.

I look forward to “practicing” traveling further and doing more things with the baby, but for now, the comforts of my own home are about as far as I have taken it.