Raw Deal

Raw Deal
Posted by CN Staff on November 17, 2003 at 18:17:56 PT
By Bill Kaufmann -- Calgary Sun
Source: Calgary Sun
He was warned there'd be no pension waiting for him. But he still felt obliged to complain and came off like a self-righteous union leader airing a grievance with management. Thirteen years he'd devoted to the service of high times, Twinkie consumption and tax-free profits and this is the gratitude he's accorded. "The way it's continuing, I'm in a dying business," said caller "Darrell", who prides himself as a Calgary marijuana cultivator of the old school.
Darrell says he's calling from a payphone and judging from the technical jargon and his elusiveness when asked for personal details, is likely who he claims to be. His beef: Canada's laws governing the production of marijuana are far too weak-kneed and wimpy. That's right, a dope grower and dealer whining about lax punishment, pining for the threat of hard time. That puniness of penance is a green light for all the riff-raff to crowd into the budding business; too many cooks are spoiling the broth and diluting the profits, he insists. The time has come for draconian measures to weed them out. "You've got to have harsher sentences," says Darrell, who's venting passionately. "I've been at it for so long, but I'm thinking of going into legitimate business." You call this prohibition? If we had the real thing, we wouldn't have to worry about the hydroponic version of mad cow disease, spews Darrell. You know things have come to a pitiful pass when the price of a pound of bud has dropped from a cool $4,000 to $2,000 or less in just five years, or so Darell says. What set off Darrell's rant? Recent police statements in the media, he says, that paint a rosy economic picture for horticulturalists like him. The theme of his complaints then take on a racial tone, as Darrell explains how the legal atmosphere has enticed a growing number of ethnic gangs onto the scene. "They'll do things much cheaper," pouts Darrell, frothing like a man wearing the skid marks of a NAFTA truck. No doubt exaggerating his plight, Darrell describes himself as "one of the last white guys left in the business." I've got real overhead, says Darrell, who continues with the racial theme in describing the challenges facing his career. To maintain multiple crops, the more serious growers hire sitters, who are typically paid with a cut of the harvest. "I can't make a living anymore -- I've got to pay for my grow (sitter)," he laments. Statistics Canada has yet to include the number of jobless cannabis caretakers in its unemployment figures. If he hangs in, Darrell figures he's got two or three years left to skulk around skunk-scented basements blazing with cornea-melting lights. He claims to have already ratcheted his operation down from 10 to five grow houses. One thing that will never change in his operation, says Darrell, is his refusal to use purloined electricity to nurture his livelihood, a practise he slags as uncouth. "I've never stolen -- I've always bought -- you don't have to worry about someone burning your house down," says the man of ethics, still pondering his future. "I could deal coke and crack but I won't, because it hurts people." But there's hope for Darrell's continued happiness -- new marijuana legislation aiming to make life tougher for growers is coming down the federal pike. Just what is it that makes Darrell feel immune to the ravages of tougher laws? Darrell says he's been through the system plenty already, adding "the cops know me well," as if that's a rational answer. But if there's even a morsel of merit to Darrell's plea for an end to leniency, it exposes the circular logic of the war on pot. The more lenient the laws, the more growers there will be, but the price comes down, so if we tighten them up, the more the dope's worth, ultimately enticing more to produce it. No matter how you slice it, prohibition doesn't sound very sound. Now we have Alberta's solicitor general telling us we need to do much more to combat the production of crystal meth. Good luck having enough police to crack down on the crystal meth while at the same time ensuring Darrell's profit margins head north again. Note: Lenient marijuana laws leave unhappy trafficker whining. Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)Author: Bill Kaufmann -- Calgary SunPublished: November 17, 2003 Copyright: 2003 The Calgary SunContact: callet sunpub.comWebsite: -- Canada Archives
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