The Cult Of Indoor Weed

Female cannabis flower. Photo: Alapoet (CC)

Female cannabis flower. Photo: Alapoet (CC)

Is marijuana grown indoors really worth double the cost of plants grown outside? Sam Quinones reports for the Los Angeles Times from Arcata, California:

About the time the wholesale price of pot hit $4,000 a pound, Tony Sasso bought a bulldozer and an excavator and dug a massive hole on his ranch in eastern Mendocino County.

Then he bought four metal shipping containers and buried them in the hole. Inside the containers, Sasso installed 32 1,000-watt lights, a ventilation system and plumbing – all of it powered by a 60-kilowatt generator. His subterranean plantation produced 60 pounds of pot every 56 days, the time it took to turn a crop. They were popular strains, with names like Blueberry, Herojuana, White Widow and Big Red.

He’d begun growing pot as a teenager in the mid-1980s, when police helicopters forced growers to hide their plants indoors. Going underground was the next logical step, to shield the lights from the infrared sensors of law enforcement.

His harvests paid for expensive trucks, skydiving in Maui, boogie-boarding in Chile and a five-bedroom home with a four-car garage. He eventually owned five ranches, including two in Oregon, and says he took in as much as $11 million a year.

“I grew up believing that the only way to make money was to grow marijuana, and I was good at it,” said Sasso, now 42 and serving a 14-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Atwater.

His career as a pot entrepreneur, drawn from interviews with Sasso and from court records, mirrors the arc of the marijuana business in California.

Today, indoor-grown pot is king. A weed that grows naturally in the sun has been tamed into an industrial product that is branded like soda pop and as subject to fashion as women’s shoes. Pot raised indoors or underground commands up to $3,000 a wholesale pound, twice the price of outdoor varieties.

A Nov. 2 ballot measure to legalize limited cultivation and use of marijuana is the talk of Northern California’s “Emerald Triangle,” where indoor pot is an economic mainstay. The effect that legalization would have on the marijuana market is unclear. Much would depend on the policies enacted by cities and counties, which would have power to regulate and tax production and sales. Oakland is making plans to allow cultivation in warehouses, which could affect prices.

What is clear is that consumers now harbor a powerful fetish for indoor weed. A potent bud is no longer enough. Like connoisseurs of wine or coffee, pot smokers want cachet: an exotic look, a distinctive smell of cheese or lemon. This requires growing indoors, where plants can be coddled, protected from the elements and blasted with nutrients…

[continues in the Los Angeles Times]

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  • Pb

    I’ve always preferred outdoor pot.. The only advantages I can see to indoor pot is that it is easier to prevent unwanted pollination and the ability to grow year round. But I prefer my plants to have grown under actual sunlight.

    • Laws456

      You know the outdoor is the best! Many of the indoor growers underestimate the power of the sun, and they try to make up for it by adding all of these nutrients, but they will never be able to replace el sol.

  • Pb

    I’ve always preferred outdoor pot.. The only advantages I can see to indoor pot is that it is easier to prevent unwanted pollination and the ability to grow year round. But I prefer my plants to have grown under actual sunlight.

  • dj do it

    this is such an awesome thing! Not pot grown inside or out but, the fact california is using it’s ce;ebrity to grow at a large scale. this has been a problem we have faced forever. Iunderstand the stigmas placed on marijauana. The fact that most people you know partake is a standard that can no longer be ignored. Why is it that you can go home after work and get drunk as hell but, i can lose my job because i go home and burn a doob? It sucks that the one thing i enjoy in life is so limited. Hard to believe that because i partake on monday the 5th that the 30th, im dirty and under the influence which caused a mishap. Welcome to the 21st century! Long live mary

  • dj do it

    this is such an awesome thing! Not pot grown inside or out but, the fact california is using it’s ce;ebrity to grow at a large scale. this has been a problem we have faced forever. Iunderstand the stigmas placed on marijauana. The fact that most people you know partake is a standard that can no longer be ignored. Why is it that you can go home after work and get drunk as hell but, i can lose my job because i go home and burn a doob? It sucks that the one thing i enjoy in life is so limited. Hard to believe that because i partake on monday the 5th that the 30th, im dirty and under the influence which caused a mishap. Welcome to the 21st century! Long live mary

  • dumbsaint

    Is this essentially hydro vs bush? Hydro without question; denser more potent buds. Just it’s increased weight alone makes them more valuable.

  • Anonymous

    Is this essentially hydro vs bush? Hydro without question; denser more potent buds. Just it’s increased weight alone makes them more valuable.

  • Anonymous

    You know the outdoor is the best! Many of the indoor growers underestimate the power of the sun, and they try to make up for it by adding all of these nutrients, but they will never be able to replace el sol.

  • DeepCough

    Honestly, how weed is grown is a matter of logistics; that it is grown well is what ultimately matters. (I will admit
    that I’m partial to organics, though…..)

  • DeepCough

    Honestly, how weed is grown is a matter of logistics; that it is grown well is what ultimately matters. (I will admit
    that I’m partial to organics, though…..)

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