Just what is a “Growgirl?” How about a “Potwife?” The covert underworld of growing Cannabis, even in a “legal” state, is rife with questions. Much has been written on the politics of the plant, but what of the day to day work of actually tending to good medicine? While no one wants to spill the beans or go to prison, knowledge is power and the more we know about the inner workings of the industry, the better chance we have at dispelling the myths, weeding out the bad apples, and making it, well, normal.
The young girl with snot running down her nose, seemingly frightened to death in the psych-horror film “The Blair Witch Project” is a vision actress-turned-writer Heather Donohue would like to forget – or at least push to the back of her proverbial life story. But what does a girl pegged for B-Horror films do next?
Pan to a house at the end of a dirt road and in the window you may see… a young woman with snot running down her nose, peering out a closeted house, terrified that the grow in her garage will be discovered.
For California is still the land of opportunity, but the gold now grows upright and is green and sways covertly across the plain (or in a back bedroom, garage, or outbuilding).
Happenstance and one man later brought Donohue to the other industry, the other California multi-million dollar industry of legal Medical Cannabis, formerly known as Marijuana, otherwise known as Cali’s largest cash crop.
Donohue followed the trail of those looking for a simpler way of life since 1969 and the “Summer of Love,” when “Back-to-the-landers” left San Francisco and headed north to grow their own.
Today, Cali’s cash crop tallies in the multi-millions, and while the cozy confines of the Emerald Triangle in Nor Cal is where it all began, grow rooms can be found in every corner of the golden state. It’s safe to assume Donohue’s “Nuggettown” (somewhere in the Sierras) can be found in any State where Cannabis is deemed good medicine.
The collective or “The Community” Donohue joined is a loosely based communal way of life, where fellow growers support each other based on sheer trust, and intimate relationships are begun and end with the grow intact and in mind. With Donohue the reader experiences the pang of a break-up where the final word is the safety of the plant, not her heart.
In Humboldt County where this writer makes her home, the community Donohue joined could be found in Southern Humboldt amongst the back-to-the-landers, turned modern-day-hippies. For whether you are growing for yourself and an illness, a collective, or for the hungry black market, there are no rules, only a community making it up as they go along.
The Occupational Safety and Health Association or OSHA doesn’t exist in a backroom grow. Cramped conditions and seemingly unfair monetary splits are common in a world where everything is done via word of mouth. With nothing written down and everything left to faith, environmental standards are out the window too.
Donohue felt the pang of her dirty indoor grow and followed her conscience, planting outside along with kale and tomatoes. We see that her story is a reflection of everything wrong about the industry of Cannabis and everything right, as she openly examines everything, sharing her most personal finds with the reader who becomes her best friend in the process.
If the theory humans are part of the plant world, Donohue found herself in her “girls.” For her analogy of a life lived among the bud is also an analogy of life itself – comparing her own needs, desires – even her sexual organs to the plant. She learned to coax them into beauty the hard way, carefully planning each light cycle, coddling them to completion, but in the end, they completed her.
“Growgirl” could have been a story of any city dweller arriving in the country, digging up a parcel and setting down roots. Gardening is life changing, whether its cucumbers or Cannabis in the ground, once human hands touch dirt transformation takes place.
Not really a stoner, we watch as Donohue microwaves her first harvest, packing it into a pipe, feeling the effects, and wondering aloud, how in the world anyone could smoke the stuff daily.
Donohue skirts the smoky debate on recreation versus good medicine. Her story is about making a living versus merely surviving, and the opportunity found in growing.
Her story is about relationships in the covert, but common Cannabis community. Even a break at Burning Man is documented and recognized as part of the grow experience during her time in the scene.
The draw of Growgirl isn’t just the secrets shared of a grow community, or the “riches made” (As with any first-time business start-up, Donohue’s one year grow didn’t turn a profit). The importance of a journal of this nature written by someone of notoriety is the normalcy of the process sharing brings to the table.
Christians Evangelize about God to get the word out and build community. Canna activists could learn a thing or two from them. Until the words come from our mouths, public opinion will not change.
Donohue’s putting her face out there telling an intelligent and personal story for the greater good is key. For it’s that face in all its former terror that can part the smoky screen of national media for the cause, with her nose wiped clean.