Growing Weed For Fun and Profit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

A new and enjoyable hobby that was enabled by Colorado Amendment 64.

Submitted: March 18, 2018

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Submitted: March 18, 2018



Growing Weed for Fun and Profit

Amendment 64, which legalized weed in Colorado, passed in November of 2012. It gave the citizens legalized recreational marijuana in January of 2014. But before there was legal recreational weed, there was medical weed, and this is where the story really begins.

The license to buy medicinal marijuana was known as a “Red Card” even though it wasn't really red. It was, in fact, a very ordinary looking 8” by 12” typed document. Merriam got hers by visiting a physician in Denver that had been recommended to her by a dispensary in Empire Colorado. More than recommended, the dispensary gave her a coupon that let her receive the exam at half price, i.e., for forty dollars.

Merriam hailed from Empire, a mountain town of about 500 people and she rarely came to the city. She hated it. And she was not used to Denver traffic at all, but she drove around Denver, white knuckles on the wheel, and mostly lost, until she finally found the doctor's address on a confusing cul-de-sac in a suburban area of town. A rather ordinary looking medical building.

Entering, she was greeted by a woman with a radical set of dread locks and Rasta style outfit, who checked her in and gave her the forms to fill out. All were pretty standard, asking about prior injuries, medication and such. Except the last one, which asked why she was seeking medical marijuana. Merriam put down, “Blood pressure – marijuana lowers it”. At her last checkup she had been warned that her blood pressure was a tad bit high and that she might require medication some day. And she could not think of another reason why she might “need” medical marijuana.

She was almost immediately called for her appointment and the first thing the nurse did was check her blood pressure. It was high, around 140/90.

“The doctor won't prescribe medical marijuana with your blood pressure this high”, said the Nurse. “Is there some reason it's up so high?”

“I suppose driving around town here freaked me out”, Merriam replied. “I'm not used to this traffic at all. I come from Empire.”

“Well, the doctor won't prescribe with your blood pressure this high”, said the Nurse, with a worried look.

“I think I forgot to take my medication this morning too. My schedule was all jumbled up by coming down here.”

With this the nurse visibly relaxed, smiled and wrote this on the paper that was following Merriam around.

Merriam next saw the doctor, seated across from his desk.

“So you forgot to take your blood pressure medication this morning?” Asked the doctor.

“Yes, it's usually down around 125, but the driving in traffic and forgetting my medication has it up.”

The doctor wrote something on the paper. Reading the paper, he then asked, “And why do you feel you need medical marijuana?”

Red flags went up. Merriam recalled that it said why on the paper.

“It helps with my blood pressure”, Merriam offered tentatively.

The doctor said nothing. He just seemed unimpressed.

“And my shoulder. The dislocation I checked on the form there. Sometimes it hurts at night and the marijuana helps me to sleep.”

The doctor then nodded and again wrote something on the form. He then told her to return to the dread lock woman at the front desk. There, the woman verified Merriam's address and past addresses and other contact information. She then said the card would be mailed to Merriam and issued Merriam a temporary card to use in the meantime. She informed Merriam that she would receive packets of information in the mail and that she must respond to these exactly as directed, or she would invalidate her card. She was required to send in an eighty dollar fee for processing within the next five days. Only a cashiers check would be accepted.

There were some problems in the coming weeks with Merriam having no home mailing address, just a post office box, but these were resolved. Merriam would have the card for one year and then it would have to be renewed.

Red card holders were allowed buy clones to grow their own weed if they wanted to. One would enter the dispensary and put your red card and drivers license face up on the counter, so that an overhead camera could see it, and then ask guy if he had any clones.

Clones were cuttings off of a mature pot plant that had been dipped in a rooting compound, stuck in a small cup of soil and then placed in a “clone-dome” until they rooted.

The cups were made of pressed peat moss and came in a tray that resembled the bottom of an egg carton. In Merriam's local, Fox Farm Ocean Forest potting soil was used to fill the cups. There were a large number of rooting hormones available from any garden supply store, and the growers used all kinds, but most preferred a gel over a straight liquid. Finally, the clone-dome was a water proof tray covered by a clear plastic dome. Without the humid clone-dome, the cutting, with no root structure, would dehydrate, wilt and die.

Merriam's first lesson was that the price of clones varied greatly. From ten to fifteen dollars at her local dispensaries, the ones in Empire and Idaho Springs, to up to forty dollars in upscale summit county. And there were also a huge variety of strains to choose from. Indica, believed to be the best pain reliever, but prone to inducing couch lock, and Sativa, the laugh your head off and take a hike in the mountains kind of pot. And there were an almost infinite number of hybrids of the two in between.

Merriam learned to pull the clone and it's soil from the cup to inspect the single white root prior to purchasing. The root should curl and extend almost back to the top of the cup.

It was at this point that Merriam unwittingly did herself her greatest pot growing favor she could. She bought clones from everyone. She bought many different strains. She built shelves to accommodate a large number of small plants in her bedroom window. Unknown to her, the clone's light cycle had been synced to the sun cycle, so letting them grow in natural sunlight did not cause them to bud. She would later learn the importance of the light cycle the hard way.

Growing the many different strains taught Merriam that every strain is unique. Some simply didn't like her environment and refused to grow at all. Perhaps reaching a height of six sickly inches, remaining there for many months and then dying. Others grew well, but grew too slowly to be useful. Sometimes taking up to a year to reach a reasonable size. Most were prone to mold, which could be combated, but was better to do without. And some performed well, but were just not liked by her neighbors and friends. They had a funny taste or they induced a weird felling.

About this time, recreational pot became legal in Colorado. Merriam spent that January 1st in the waiting room of the Empire dispensary. It was the dispensary nearest the ski areas, which didn't allow dispensaries, and the room was full all day with people from all over the world who wanted to buy pot. Many photographs of the process were taken. And it was a great, jolly time. Twenty plants could now be grown and red cards were no longer needed.

About this same time, the guy who owned the grow store in Idaho Springs saved her a tremendous amount of money with one piece of sterling advice: Don't buy your lights until you have a strain that works well for you, and works well with the lights that you intend to buy.

Merriam didn't buy the high intensity grow lights. Instead, she followed the lead of another woman she knew in Empire and grew with CFL lighting. She bought eighteen inch reflectors from the hardware store, installed a “Y” adapter that allowed her to put two “100 Watt” CFL bulbs in each reflector and hung one of these above each of her plants as they got big enough to come out of the window. Every two plants also had a lamp on the floor with an additional 100 Watt CFL for the lower foliage. The lamps ran on a timer that she bought for $20 at the local grow store. A critical piece of equipment to keep the light cycle constant. Each of the “100 watt” CFL's only drew thirteen actual watts, so the power usage and heat were minimal.

Merriam never bought the expensive and energy intensive lights that were used by many growers.

The first year was primarily devoted to culling strains. As previously stated, most simply didn't do well for one reason or another. But she finally found Purple Pinecone, an Indica with a pine taste that worked well for her in all aspects, i.e., it cloned easily, it grew quickly, it was impervious to mold, people liked it and it budded easily. Sometimes too easily – it's only real drawback.

During this same period she learned the importance of her water pH. She would set it at 6.0, eventually coming up with a water/vinegar mix that would pH one gallon of water with one shot glass full of vinegar mix. Over acidic pH could be taken up with a pinch of baking soda. The pH was checked with drops that colored the water. These drops were bought at a nursery. Properly pH'd water made a visible difference on the plants within a few days.

There is a lot of silly lore about growing pot. And she and the owners of the Idaho Springs grow store actually considered putting together a book with the things that people worry about, and probably shouldn't. Things such as avoiding loud, sudden noises, or not using anything but rain water on the plants. But proper pH was very important, and everyone with a successful grow agreed with this.

She learned of the four different kinds of bat guano and their varying amounts of nitrogen, High nitrogen Mexican for new plants and the others depending on how the plants looked. One spoon full per gallon of hot water and then let it brew over night. A cup per week per plant. Wearing a respirator while handling it to avoid Histoplasmosis. Properly mixed, it matched the pH of the water. Moving the soil pH more than a point would kill the plants. And dumping a cup of 7.0 pH fertilizer on the plant would move the soil pH this much.

Her Purple Pinecone, like most plants, needed a lot of potassium during the bud phase. This was provided with Miracle Grow Tomato Mix, mixed exactly as directed on the box. Some of the other growers were horrified by this, but she never found that it affected the taste of the plants. And there were few natural substances that gave a good potassium blast. And most were expensive.

At this point, another important lesson was learned. A good friend of hers at the grow store lost his entire crop, a large crop growing in commercial space, and almost ready to bud. He made some error in mixing. He had prepared new pH'd water and he had mixed up a batch of nutrients. He applied these to the plants and the next morning found them all dying. Nothing he tried saved them. He almost lost his strain. The moral being don't watch TV or drink beer while mixing up something that will be applied to all the plants. What you mix will affect them all if applied to all.

Merriam and her partner began configuring their one bedroom apartment for growing more than three or four plants. The bedroom was cut in two with a wall of hanging blankets. Reflective mylar “space blankets” were taped to the walls and pinned to the blankets in this space. The space was big enough to accommodate about 20 plants in the bud cycle. The bedroom was chosen for the bud cycle as the lights would only be on from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM and would not interrupt their sleep on the other side of the room.

Lights were hung everywhere in the living room and the place soon looked like a jungle with up to 20 large plants and many knee high tweens dispersed around the room. These lights were on 21 hours per day.

Adapting to this light cycle had almost wiped out Merriam. She had been running 23 hours per day, but read that this was too much. She backed it off to 21. Two days later she was horrified to find all of her plants in bud cycle - where they could not be cloned. The two hours of light reduction had done it. She let the plants more than a foot high bud out, and took everything smaller and tried to reverse their bud cycle. She picked off he buds and put them on their old light cycle. These plants did reverse and they, along with a few surviving clones, saved her strain.

The clone-dome occupied a space at the end of the kitchen counter and was illuminated by two 100 Watt CFL spots hanging from the bottom of a cabinet. After the bud cycle disaster, the two women usually had about 30 clones going at one time. Clone mortality was high, and the clones could be a last reservoir for the strain. As long as a couple survived, they could start again.

With this new set up, there was no longer any need for the large number of small plants on the bedroom window shelves. And suddenly, the 4 x 4 foot window, with a view of the bathroom door, was intrusive. Two large plants were set there on a folding table to provide a screen.

About a week later the two women were startled by a knock on their door. Nobody ever knocked on their door. Merriam opened the door a crack and peeked out, she saw an embarrassed looking scroungy kid in his early 20's.

“Uh, I saw your plants in the window and they look pretty good. I was wondering if you could sell me a clone?”

“Who are you?” Asked Merriam.

“I'm Jake, I live in a trailer back there behind the cabins.”

Merriam was in the practice of tossing out clones because she didn't have space for them, so she gave the kid one. She then followed him back to his trailer to inspect his grow space, a shed behind his trailer and the bedroom of his single bedroom trailer. He had a variety of lights to try out. It looked fine and she gave him several more clones to get him started.

The kid was back the next day wanting to buy a few grams of bud. He didn't have a car and had trouble getting into town to the dispensary. Merriam learned that there was already a set price for home grown of fifteen dollar a gram. Five dollars less than the dispensary. She already had a gram scale bought from the dispensary for $19.00 and she began selling a few grams to him. And then to his friends. Not a lot, but enough to make an extra hundred to hundred and fifty dollars per week.

The kid tore the roof off his shed and replaced it with clear fiberglass panels. And with Merriam's help, grew a massive amount of pot that summer. Almost no lights and no bud cycle, just sunlight and the shortening days of fall. Most of it he smoked up himself. Probably with the help of a few friends, and within a month he was back buying grams from Merriam. But he had established a connection with a new dispensary down the road. One run by a genial Indian guy who thought everything was funny. And that guy would buy everything they grew, cash on the barrel.

This was infinitely preferable to selling to the kids who knocked on the door. Some had all the characteristics of addicts. They would want pot when they had no money, promising to pay later. They never did. One was constantly dancing to keep these types happy, while not giving everything away.

The worst was the Deaf Hippy, a fifty year old guy that Merriam knew by reputation and had always avoided. The woman in the cabin next door grew in a rented trailer in Dumont and always had a supply. The Deaf Hippy would make nightly stops at her door. Sometimes with money, but mostly to beg. He claimed to need weed to avoid seizures.

One evening Merriam heard the woman screaming at the Deaf Hippy, “No godammit, I'm not giving you any more free pot. Now go”. In spite of his deafness, the Deaf Hippy understood and returned to his apartment, where he apparently began joansing. He finally called the EMT's and told them that he would begin having seizures if he didn't get some pot. They sent out an ambulance and picked him up.

About forty-five minutes later the hospital called the next door neighbor. They asked if she could give him some weed. She said no. They then asked if she could loan him some money so that he could go to to the dispensary and buy some weed. She again said no. They then asked if she could come to the hospital so that he could be released to her, explaining that they couldn't release him alone. She went nuts. Merriam could hear her yelling while way in the back of her apartment.

The Deaf Hippy showed up on foot about an hour later. He again went to Merriam's neighbor to beg for weed. This time she just slammed the door in his face.

In response, he pretended to collapse in front of her door and lay there spread-eagle making a weird noise, “Uhhhhh! Uhhhhh!, Uhhhhh!”. The neighbor came out and began kicking him until he got up. She then kicked at him all the way back to his front door.

But free from dealing with the likes of Jake and the Deaf Hippy, Merriam's next move was to rent the two bedroom apartment next door when the old tenants moved. Her friend at the grow store, the one who had lost his crop, was moving to a five bedroom house in Granby that he would be renting for $7000 per month. He had been evicted from his old place for growing pot and this time he told the owner what he planned to do. Given the monthly rent, the owner was OK with it.

People began to recognize the value of a good strain and clones stopped being generally available. People now guarded their strains and you had to do some major suck up to get a clone out of them. And, as a result, there were now a lot of failed first time growers. But there were also a lot of people who made a little extra money by doing a little gardening and keeping their mouths shut.

For some reason, the Deaf Hippy moved to Ouray and began living in a tent in the woods with two other deaf guys. The last anyone ever heard of him was a text received by Merriam's neighbor. In it he said that everyone in Ouray was very religious and there was no weed to be had anywhere. He wondered if Merriam's neighbor could mail him some.



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