You hear it from your buddy who just bought another parcel, it’s whispered in the grow shop, in the convoy of soil and water trucks humming on the back roads, “we have got to go big this year.” It seems someone is saying this every year in recent memory. There is always some boogieman right around the corner to bring the economy and the outlaw way of life to an abrupt and final end. New regulations, a new ballot initiative, big corporations, Mexican cartels moving in, prices dropping, other states legalizing, whatever it is, it seems there is always a compelling reason that if we don’t blow it up huge this year we are not going to get another chance.
Don’t get me wrong, there are real concerns. Statewide legalization is looking better every day. New medical marijuana policies further regulate and threaten an old way of life. Not to mention the head start that states like Colorado and cities like San Francisco seem to have on Humboldt. Prices drop and drop so farmers start shooting for quantity over quality to improve the margins.
Who suffers from this never ending attempt to get as much as we can before the ship sinks? The people at the bottom, the customers, the industry and the environment. The workers are the first to get screwed. It used to be that trimmers got $200 a pound and workers got $20-25 and hour. Now you hear about $100-150 a pound and $15, $12 even $10 an hour. $10 an hour? Are you kidding me? You can make more than that doing almost anything. Not to mention that you’re taking way bigger risks for a dangerous job that is fast disappearing. Then there’s the environment, cutting costs and thinking short term means burning trash or just leaving it behind, stealing water, unpermitted everything.
So what are we supposed to do? Go back home to live with Mom and Dad. Tell them that vaguely described art studio or landscaping business didn’t work out? Of course not. But it is time to be realistic. Realize that there are two groups of people: those that will be left behind in the new industry and those that will evolve to meet its needs. There is going to be a big demand for talented people who have specialized skills. Maybe you can make your business legit. Maybe you can consult for someone else. If you are one of these people you probably know it. You have already applied for permits, you read up on the legal industry constantly, you are hedging your bets. What if you’re in the first group? Go huge right?
Even if it goes full legal this year the black/grey market will probably not utter its death rattle for another five years maybe more. You have some time. If you’re already doing good and you’re too old to change, start being smarter with your money. Buy some assets, invest in things besides grow rooms and green houses. Get a financial expert who knows what they’re doing. You’re not as good at business as you think you are, you’ve just been in a really easy one until now. Stop following Phish on tour and vacationing half the year in the Costa Rica. The money train is pulling out of the station but you can still set yourself up nice. Whatever you do please don’t screw over the planet because you’re looking out for number one. That’s a dick move and we all think you’re cool.
So one more big year? Not the answer. If you absolutely refuse to change, you still have a little time to hang onto your old way of life. Get smart about it. If you want to hop onto the full legal/medical bandwagon start going all in with that. Buying a domain name or having t-shirts printed isn’t enough. Start attending events, meeting with lawyers and taking a few night courses on drafting a business plan. Oh and if you’re trimming for $150 or working for $12 an hour, that dudes not your friend. He’s not going to pay you better when he sells lasts years pounds. Work for someone who treats you like a human being. Better yet start working harder to make your art/band/rock climbing or whatever it is you actually like to do into a career, that’s what you want to be doing anyways right?