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Vol. 19, No. 4, 2020
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Robert J. Lewis
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cultivating cannabis




Former lead singer of the legendary 222s, arguably Montreal's first punk rock band, Chris is now a freelance writer based in Montreal. You can check out his writing at where he combines the sardonic humour of David Foster Wallace and the deliciously contrived irreverence of Anthony Bourdain.


Note: Canada legalized cannabis on October 17th, 2018

Autumn in my part of the world (Canada), the Northeast, is truly a time of splendour. The tourists come from far and wide to admire the foliage, the horror of frigid winters past are still a distant memory, and, there’s plenty of cash waiting to be earned in the local pot growing industry. And while I’m admittedly too big a chicken to actually try and harvest my own giant field of doob, I have been known to bury the odd clone out in the bush somewhere and, come October, return to the scene of the crime, fingers crossed, hoping for the best. Avocational modest pot cultivation is a time-honoured tradition around here, so much so that a determined trek through the local woods will, almost as often as not, find you, ahem, ‘stumbling’ upon somebody else’s plants. Doob really is that ubiquitous out here.

Now I do not pretend to be a particularly honourable man. I once sold my cat Puff’s shit to a Grade 8 kid in my school for top dollar, slapping a little black shoe polish on one of her turds and promoting it as an ultra rare variety of Persian hash called Puffapoo. I deliberately park in handicapped spaces, I like to look up women’s skirts with a hand-held mirror in supermarket lineups, I am weak willed and most certainly lazy, but, to date, I can proudly state that whenever I’ve come across somebody else’s reefer out in the bush I have always followed the righteous path and left it alone. Foolish perhaps, but I see it as a karmic thing, I won’t steal any one else’s doob and with luck no one will steal mine.

But I’m also an idiot. Last year I planted six clones in various locations and come harvest only one remained which hadn’t been stolen. And the problem is getting worse. In fact, my friend Lorney, an 300 pound ex-con currently on parole and whose entire family lives the year round on income earned from his impressive marijuana plantation, tells me that he lost more than half his plants last year to thieves. He thinks the crooks, most probably criminal bikers, are coming here from the city for the express purpose of ripping off the rural folk. Which may or may not be true. Lorney, although a nice enough guy, is arguably not the most brilliant of fellows, and tends to be a little paranoid, no doubt the cumulative effect of several decades of unabated reefer consumption.

This year Lorney says he’s taking no chances with his crop. And as such, a new employment opportunity has arisen in the neighbourhood, one that is mine if I’m willing to take it. “All you’ve got to do,” Lorney tells me, “is for the next three weeks just spend your nights out in the bush, keeping an eye on my plants. It pays $600 a day.”

Which in my book is pretty good money, certainly a more lucrative endeavour than spending all day in his basement cleaning buds with his kids for $20 an hour. “No worries, I’ll supply you with some night vision goggles and a machine gun and if anybody comes around, you just shoot them. You’ll have to have a machine gun, because if there’s more than one of them, well, come on, a simple 33 caliber rifle just isn’t gonna do the job.” Which I suppose makes sense, assuming your willing to kill people over a little bit of reefer, that is.

Now honestly, as much as I could really use this untraceable cash to help pay for my education, I do have some reservations about taking on the gig. For starters, um, it seems a little dangerous. Like, uh, what if the dope thieves have their own night vision goggles and machine guns? Will they shoot me in the back as I scamper as fast as I can through the woods in retreat? Would Lorney choose to garnish my wages if I effectively allowed all his reefer to be stolen on my watch? Or might he, upon hearing of my cowardice, burst in to a rage and kill me himself, Lorney being a man, unfortunately, with at least a little bit of murdering experience, and no doubt a character who makes for a much better friend than enemy.

But $600 a day for three full weeks. That’s pretty fuckin’ tempting, and even with all the reefer robbing that’s been going down in recent years, seriously, what are the chances I’ll actually be confronted with a ‘situation’, as Lorney likes to refer to criminal shoot-outs. I’m still undecided about what I’m going to do.

But the decision is getting easier – or maybe harder, I’m not sure yet. You see, for reasons you don’t even wanna know, I have in my possession this absolutely incredible camouflage suit, they call it The Bush. It’s intended to be used by snipers.

Also by Chris Barry:
To Boots with Love
From Spring Fatness to Fitness
Coming Out: Is It Any Easier?
Head Trip Story: My Inner Idiot
Ballet Boxer: Milford Kemp
Like Young
Loving Hard Times
Feed Your Head
Talking 12-Tone with Patti Smith
Beauty Pageants: The Golden Years
Swingers' Clubs as Safe Zones
Bust a Move
Trapeze - Swinging Ad Extremis
Hells in Paradise
The Cannabis Cup
Colonic Hydrotheraphy


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Arts & Opinion, a bi-monthly, is archived in the Library and Archives Canada.
ISSN 1718-2034


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