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“Angela” blames most of her problems on the econo- my. “I had a total of three houses, the one I lived in and two others I bought as investments in early ‘04. After my real estate business stalled in ‘08, I was basically sitting on three empty houses that I couldn’t move or even rent. That was when I decided that maybe there was another way: I would grow marijuana.”

And that’s where all of Angela’s troubles started.

Angela remembers a joint being passed around a dorm during college, but that was the extent of her canna- bis experience. She married early and was divorced 15 years later with two kids to support.

Wow, almost sounds like the makings for a boring ca- ble show.

There are now “universities” popping up all over the country that teach all things cannabis to anyone who has the money for tuition. From baked goods to grow- ing, a neophyte off the street can get a well-rounded “higher” education and supposedly learn everything there is to know about cannabis.

But until you get your hands a little dirty, you’re in for a real-world education.

Angela went to a local hydroponic store that had re- cently opened in her East Bay community. For the fi rst few months she followed the DVDs and books on grow- ing cannabis that she purchased in the garden center. But she had a hard time getting her grows set up and working at full functionality. In fact, her fi rst few har- vests were complete failures.

That’s when she started borrowing money from her sons and other family members.

8 WEST COAST CANNABIS More Than A Lifestyle Photo: Craig Lemire

Since I’ve been writing about the world of mari- juana, I’ve heard millions of sad tales. From home invasions

where the bad guys dress up like the Feds and steal your cannabis from under your nose, to violent rip-offs where guns and violence are used.

Here in San Francisco, there is a glut of marijuana. You can barely sell it, and if you do, you’re going to be crying all the way home because of how little you’ve let your harvest go for.

Because of the cable TV show, Weeds, or because of the tough economic times we are in, more and more uneducated and inex- perienced civilians are turning to cannabis to try to make money. It seems like everyone’d doing it and, actually, how hard can it be?

Personally, as much as I like the actors on Weeds, most of my friends and I can’t stand watching the show. The show was cre- ated for couples in Sherman Oaks who after a hard day at their straight jobs, like to roll a pinner on the weekends and get stoned and pretend they are bad-ass dealers like Nancy Botwin, the Val- ley’s answer to Al Capone.

It’s like a study of watching amateurs at work. They may get some small details correct, but for the most part, it is a story of how to put your family in harm’s way.

There are growers that have been doing this for 30 years or more, who know what they are doing. This is who the ‘hobbyists’ com- pete with.

What’s the difference between a hobbyist grower and a pro? I went to the experts.

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