Male, 26 years old
6 years working as a trimmer
Trimming sole source of income for 4 of those 6 years
Currently earns $11 an hour working full time as a baker
When you started trimming, what did you think about it being illegal?
I tried to not think about the legality of it. Ignorance is really bliss.
You weren’t concerned about getting in trouble?
No. I’ve been in trouble and it’s not that bad. I’ve never been one for the law. I know that sounds more dirt-baggy but that’s how I roll. It’s hard to explain. I feel insulted that any man would tell me what I can and can’t do. Within reason. I’m not a bad guy, but who cares if you grow weed? You know, what does it matter if you ride trains or whatever?
“I’ve never been one for the law. I know that sounds more dirt-baggy but that’s how I roll. It’s hard to explain. I feel insulted that any man would tell me what I can and can’t do.”
You ride trains?
I’m a little retired now. The stereotypical image is the weird guy with the backpack, you know? Guys with dogs biting kids. It was more like an escape. It’s pretty easy you know, you have to worry about feeding yourself and getting down the road every day instead of paying bills; it’s a whole thing. I don’t know why I started doing it. I was a lost young kid who needed money and was trying to get out of where I was.
How did you keep getting trimming jobs?
Basically word of mouth. People can’t really accept resumes in this industry you know. So the neighbor needs help and they ask around and they hear that you do good work and everything. When I first started six years ago the average (pay) was $200 a pound and now $150 is the standard. People aren’t making money so the price has gone down. If you think about it, it’s $150 a pound and if you’re into it you can do a pound in 10 hours. That’s $15 an hour. But at $100 per pound, if it takes 10 hours per pound, at $100 it 10 bucks an hour, it’s a little over minimum wage you know.
What are the risks of working in this industry?
I don’t know, there is the off-chance you get in legal trouble. It is word of mouth [getting hired], you do take a risk, like ‘oh, I am gonna go to this random farm somewhere,’ in reality it’s not that risky, but it could be…
Have you had dangerous stuff happen?
Yeah. It happens. A lot of people–it’s a lawless thing–they tend to have a lot of knives, and guns, and weapons. And they get to partying, and you know it happens…. I’ve seen a lot of gun play and people being crazy. (You learn to tell if people are dangerous), that’s something that comes from travelling you know. Absolutely–when I walked in here–I looked at all the books on the shelves. You have to read people; I’ve definitely worked in weird situations where I needed the money…(Or sometimes) you don’t get paid, or bodily harm. I had a friend who got her car crushed…and they didn’t pay her.
If you weren’t in this industry, would it impact your income?
I have a steady paycheck, but if the industry was completely gone, it would affect me financially heavily. […] I would definitely have to get a second job. I would have to work a lot more than I do.