The Ungreen Movement, or, How Green was my Chronic?

It was reasonably easy to maintain the pose of the green smoker in Los Angeles, being so far removed from the production end of the process as I was.  The top-shelf medicine my partner brought home from the dispensary to treat her crippling migraines was organic and therefore, earth friendly.  Because organic weed must be good for the planet, right?  I mean, it’s organic.  Ipso facto, green.

I may have also taken it for granted that the top shelf stuff in L.A. would have to be indoor-grown because…well…it’s L.A.  Where else would you grown a plant in a city, especially in a city whose architectural style might best be described as neo-Death Star?  Not the most inviting locale for the cultivation of a living crop requiring such esoteric conditions as soil, water and air.

I’m both happy and sad to report that living in the Emerald Triangle has, once and for all, shattered my illusion of integrity.  But city tastes rule the market, concrete or no.  In the months that I’ve lived here, I’ve heard the same story repeated by growers (both indoor and out) and buyers (both wholesale and retail):  indoor is the bomb, and that’s what commands the top prices.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the “Walmart of Weed” set to open in Oakland, CA; a 15,000 square-foot space dedicated to Operation (closet) Overgrow.  Lights, chemicals, action!

As I look out the windows of my cabin in the woods, onto an edenic scene of tall redweeds, brilliant green mosses, fairy circles ringed with mushrooms and the forest primeval, I can’t help but feel as though a horrible misjudgment has come to rule the industry that owes a big part of its existence to this place.

The Emerald Triangle didn’t rise to mythic status in the world of weedcraft because it has the best subterranean grow rooms.  The baristas in my L.A. pharmacy didn’t whisper in hushed tones about Mendo weed or Humboldt fields of green because of the lighting fixtures.  Beyond the reservoirs of knowledge, beyond the fabled genetics, the Emerald Triangle has a reputation because of what and where it is.  I hope that doesn’t get lost in the hunt for more and more wasteful high-tech highs.

It may be too late to roll back the tide, but I can’t help but be a little sad that, in place of the connoisseur’s celebration of terroir, the emphasis is on the machine-like regularity of a stony fordism.

Hey Emerald Triangle growers: I really hope you’re looking to Napa and not Modesto for your inspiration.

Hey L.A. smokers (and other urban tokers): I really hope you don’t want to celebrate  the ganja-equivalent of Thunderbird, especially at the expense of regional distinctiveness and environmental sustainability.

Because the worst part of this elevation of hothouse flowers as the pinnacle of the industry is that it rests upon a hidden foundation of electric lies.  After touring one of the pristine, state-of-the-art indoor grow-ops in my new neighborhood, I asked the owner about his PG&E bill.  Mine averages about $70-$100 – that’s for every electrical appliance in my home (lights, well pump, fridge, oven, dishwasher, water heater), as well as the 4-6 plants that my partner grows legally (indoors, mind you, using an environmentally-friendly system that she came up with all by her super-genius self – more on that later, if there’s any interest).  I expected the mid-sized grow-op to have a high electrical bill, but I was blown away when this grower said that he claims a disability to get a break on his bill (at tax-payer expense, I thought to myself but didn’t say out loud), and still pays something between $1,500-$2,000/month.  It’s easy to forget when the power magically arrives at the flip of a switch, but using that much juice ain’t green.

A big part of this enviro-problem is the result of prohibition, but tastes being what they are, I’m not sure indoor growers can be easily tempted back out into the light of day once the “all clear” sounds, at least, not without some serious pressure being imposed from the community.

If the laws in California change – and based upon the most recent reporting on proposed ballot initiatives, it looks like that’s a strong possibility – and if this hidden industry is allowed to come out of the shadows, let’s hope it comes all of way out, into the sunshine.  One way to keep the jobs associated with the Emerald Triangle’s newly-traditional industry in the Emerald Triangle is to build a market base for the product that can only grow here.  You can hang a grow light in a SoCali basement as easily as in a Humboldt grow house, but you can’t replicate a redwood forest terroir in a concrete jungle.

I guess what I’m saying is: Do you even know what you have here, stoners?  I don’t know if the Emerald Triangle’s good  reputation comes from the ground or from the culture that grew here like the weed I like, but this area is magic.  I’m not the wizard that some of the growers I’ve met are, so I don’t know where the magic comes from – some combination of history, tradition, microclimate, soil chemistry…high CEC Montmorillinite Clay?  Whatever it is, I don’t think it comes with a bill from PG&E.


5 Responses to “The Ungreen Movement, or, How Green was my Chronic?”

  1. 1 Kym
    January 31, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    I’d love to hear about your partner’s method. I’m somewhat skeptical but eager. There are some promising indications that eating young green leaves can be helpful medically. Obviously, in order to maintain eating year round that would require some sort of indoor operation for a portion of the year. I would love to be able to recommend one.

  2. 3 Mr. Nice
    February 1, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Naw, naw, good outdoor is the shit. Errbody knows that.

    The thing is, fat ass crops of outdoor tend to suck more than fat ass crops of indoor. The simple reason is you can’t be checking on your outdoor shit five times a day. I dunno about you, but I wouldn’t be all up outside with a green lantern tryna inspect my outdoor. That shit would be a pain in the ass. But, any indoor grower worth their salt is all up in their indoor garden during dark time really checking out what is happening. Plus they are all up in there vacuuming alla damn time, try that outside.

    The standard for good outdoor tends to be shit which is three-fold started in a greenhouse with fluorescent to cook it up early, swapped out to pvc hoop house with that high transmittance UV-resistant plastic, then the plastic taken off to harden up the flowers in a nice SoHum breeze. That is, from my somewhat limited experience, how many grow remote kill outdoor.

    I’m not a real big fan of light dep. It can be done right if you got the ducats for the interior folding blind type of hookup. But that trash bag/blanket shit, something happens to it. Them plants can’t be comfortable with that cuz is always comes out so-so.

    The real deal about indoor is it is a small batch type of thing grown on the regular. You know indoor has gotta be relatively recent and likely just cured to just the right point. This time of year, people put that outdoor you tryna buy down to cure Sept. 26 or Oct 15 or Nov 1 whenever it dried. That means it done cured two or three months ago and been done sitting around having all the good tops picked out of it. That’s the main reason in my opinion why in late winter people are all about indoor. “Last year’s outdoor” is literally that.

  3. February 1, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Fascinating, and that all makes perfect sense to me. Thanks.

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