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Trigger Warning: This article discusses suicide, theft/home invasion and law enforcement dehumanizing a deceased person.
The violence due to the prohibition of marijuana has seriously affected my life. In its entirety I have encountered domestic violence, imprisonment due to drugs, imprisonment due to my belief system, gun violence, robbery, dismissal, rejection, unemployment, and now avoidable trauma. None of which the police ever respond to appropriately; they are always very antagonistic and hurtful. Not once have they ever tried to console me or those around me that have had anything to do with marijuana. On the flip side I have gained friends, knowledge, acceptance, passion, and true connections. This piece however is about how I now don’t know which way to go next. I am stuck and swirling in a world that I love and cherish, but I am becoming afraid of. The violence we are experiencing in Humboldt is due to Prohibition, and the Wild West mentality that revolves around prohibition.
I recently have been way too close to two different types of gun violence. One I barely missed but am certainly scared by. Out in the hills of Humboldt I had a job working for a very nice woman and man who have a fully legit and eco-groovy grow. These two amazing people have been in the business for twenty years, and they too agree that these hills are getting extremely dangerous and violent, which can clearly be a direct result of the changing tides during this time of prohibition.
This first story in short goes a little something like this. Their neighbors were laying in wait for robbers to come and steal some more of this year’s crop. Every one on this road had already been subject to theft this year and previous years. When the robbers eventually did show up, there was a shoot out which resulted in one shooting and then armed gunmen running loose on numerous different properties. I had not worked at this location in well over two weeks, but this was a bit too close for comfort for me, as this was one of the countless cases of gun violence in the hill of Southern Humboldt this year.
Due to this scare, I continued to work at a very quiet and secluded residence in the hills of Northern Humboldt. I have worked at this second spot for this man since my first year of trimming in 2008. I figured out schedules for days off so that no one would get mountain crazy, arranged rides, and made sure there was enough food for everyone as well as the normal quality control and just generally handling all things related to interpersonal issues.
The man whose residence this is is a very sweet hermit of sorts. He loves old things and reusing all of what others think is unusable. He too is a fully permitted grower, and this was and is his home. Every year he grows right around 100 plants. During trimming season it is like a college reunion of friends. Most or all of the people that work trimming for this man have know each other through college, so we are a small very close bunch. Usually there are no more than six of us.
This year we had a newcomer, a very sweet man. This man was a young veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, who upon leaving the military became a very well respected activist for a large non-profit. We had all been living on this hill in my friends’ house for about two weeks. On Sunday, most of the crew began their days off and would not be back until at least Wednesday. I stayed, as we were entering a very critical crunch time, so that we could stay on top of the work that needed to be accomplished.
I had arranged to leave Monday night and be back at work Tuesday afternoon. Our new friend and worker had decided that he did not want to leave for days off, stating that he was at peace here in this place, and he would be more than fine. I hugged my friends goodbye and thanked our new friend for being so kind to my annoying puppy and playing with him numerous times through out the day. I headed back to town to spend the evening at home.
The two men left on the Hill were the owner and our new friend, and they had made plans to do some target shooting. It is rather commonplace for a resident of these hills to do target practice in the evenings. It keeps the bears and other critters away without having to do any harm. The bears, dear, and mountain lions tend to wreak havoc, and this man is very well versed on leading a low impact life and grow. This is part of it. The bears have destroyed his house numerous times, and mountain lions have nearly killed his kitties. So this is an action that is a humane way for animals and humans to inhabit the same space. The animals are scared off of the immediate homestead during the dark hours of the night.
After I had been home long enough to take a warm bath, eat some dinner, and snuggle into my blanket on the couch and watch some TV, I received a call. It was my friend, the owner of the mountain. As I picked up the phone all I heard were guttural screams that I had only heard from a person one other time before. He just kept screaming our new friends name, and then he said it. Our new friend had lost his battle with the PTSD that he had been plagued by since his time serving in the military. Our new friend had turned the gun and used it on himself.
The following week was one of intense emotions. One of the things I cannot get out of my head is how could we have done something? How could we have helped? How could we have known? One really big question to me is how do the police justify ripping up a Marijuana harvest before ever dealing with this human’s physical body that he left?
This is not the first suicide I have seen that has been in the middle of marijuana grow. The first one I saw was three years ago almost to the day. In that case as well the police were more interested in dealing with money and Marijuana than compassionately addressing the physical human body that had endured so much pain.
This War on Drugs needs to stop, because it is a war on humanity with no compassion for people in pain.
I’m scared and really have nowhere to turn.
For previous Ladybud coverage about veterans and their increased risk of suicide, click here.
Photo Credit: steveklaus under (CC BY-SA 3.0) via DeviantArt