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Attack of the Clones (215 II)

This is the second in a series of pieces I wrote over a decade ago. Discover the era when having a California medical marijuana prescription and sometimes caring for cannabis clones was the only way to grow, use, or exchange cannabis in the United States. The name, or should I say, number of the Proposition that allowed this was 215. Read more about me caring for cannabis clones and many other things in my book, Down and Out in California.


I unpacked the truck into the grow house, and at once the lover became my boyfriend, housemate, and business partner. 

His mental illness may have colored the process, but I hated growing weed

Hate it. Beautiful and ebullient life. Sacred plants with their happy leaves that look like hands, reaching up to artificial lights in an indoor environment. With forced air and ventilation, the sound of fans and AC, and often a screaming madman impacting their growth with his wrath.

I dreaded 8:00. The lights would snap on. I’d descend into the underground plant jail to mix water, organic fertilizers, and adjust the pH. Caring for cannabis clones. I’d water the plants, tie up those of them that drooped, water the veg room if needed. And – as we grew in soil – I would transplant anything that needed it.

All rarely to his satisfaction. 

I’d then clean the rooms, and empty the trays from the water that had runoff.

I regretted being tied to this nightly task, the loss of freedom far outweighing any money made. From where I sat we made no money. We just kept sinking further into debt on my credit cards. The lover obsessively updated the room in preparation for expansion that never seemed to happen at a pace rapid enough to justify the expenses.

He never paid me back for his madness.

One of the only parts of the job I enjoyed was getting out of the house to fill up the five gallon jugs at the nearby grocery store water station. A joy that was taken away from me when the partner convinced me to invest in a reverse osmosis machine

The other task I withstood was trimming. Despite the partner screaming at me that I did it too slow, or was cutting too close or too loose when there was no discernable difference between his work and mine. I watched every episode of The Sopranos while trimming.

I quit smoking, eating or vaporizing weed. 

After ten years of almost daily use – I was done. And he raged at me for that. For treating the job like a job, for only caring about the plants for how much money they would bring in, not for how they would get me high. Not even for them as healing, as medical marijuana. He removed my ability to care and then screamed at me for it.

Before the partner convinced me to invest in a clone machine (and aquarium chiller to keep the water at the correct temperature) – we reached a few plant number emergencies due to the partner’s inability to see into the future and my novice gardening skills.

I was always happy to volunteer to leave the house on grow room related activities; any time we needed supplies from the hydro shop or clones I’d eagerly run the errand. Caring for cannabis clones is not the worst part of the job.

Anything to get me the fuck out of the crazy house.

Caring for Cannabis Clones

And so, the first time I stepped into a medical marijuana pharmacy I was months sober and not there to buy the finished product. I was there to buy clones.

I savored the process of buying and caring for cannabis clones. Luxuriated in the elitism of having my prescription verified and being buzzed past security. Of learning the lineage of the different strains, of using a magnifying glass to determine any insect activity, and being educated on how many days from soil to flowering to finishing

Most of all, this was the only area of our grow operation that I had any control over. The clone menus would be posted online, but often when I arrived at the shops the selection would be entirely different from expected. In the end, it was up to me to choose the varieties and the individual mini-plants that would make up a bulk of our season.

The satisfaction of carrying my tray of sensitive plants, less than eight inches tall, nestled in rockwool and innocence, and placing it on the front seat of my car and driving them the two hours to their new home was immense. I felt proud caring for cannabis clones.

Every step of this process was legal. I had no fear of being stopped or questioned by police officers. I would often take my prescription out of my wallet and lay it over the plastic dome covering the plants to prevent them from wilting in the baking Southern California sun.

It was through caring for cannabis clones that I came to accept Proposition 215. Though in my eyes I was not and am not a legitimate medical marijuana patient, I AM a legitimate gardener. I am qualified to plant a plant, and to oversee its growth. It’s my G-d-given right. That there is no other way to legally do this with cannabis made me accept the law. And, accept my caretaker role, and be deeply thankful and profoundly proud to be a Californian.


This is the 2nd post in this series on the early days of California Medical Marijuana, here’s the first: Scrip (215 I)

More posts about Cali weed:

1: Plant

2: Tweaker Pool

3: Mendo

4: Buying Drugs in Iconic Places

5: Anonymous


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