For the past few years, I’ve had the honor (?) of living next door to a trailblazer in the now legalized marijuana grow industry. While HIS grow has never been legal, because he exceeds by at least 20 times the number of plants he can legally grow and operates across the street from a daycare, we have had an uneventful and symbiotic relationship during that time. For the past two years, because he and his wife grew their family a bit, he has been renting out the house. This most recent set of tenants has been by far the most interesting, and in particular, a man I will call Louis, who is by trade, a Marijuana Sitter. This is my term based on the description of his job duties, he refers to himself as a “Roadie.”
My acquaintanceship with Louis began about a week before he officially moved out of the house next door. For about two weeks, I had noticed a new truck in the driveway, which was there consistently. There were always many cars parked in and around the house, but this truck kept returning. Sitting at the front of the truck at the top of the driveway, there was often a tall, thin man with thick, wavy, longish black hair and an unkempt beard, who smoked endlessly. Sometimes, I would sit at the bistro table in front of my house while he smoked in the driveway not more than 20 feet away, but we wouldn’t exchange anything other than a head nod. Had the backyard of the house next door not been continuing to fill with smelly trash wrapped in black plastic bags, we might not have ever spoken.
When the heat climbed to the mid-90s, the backyard started to smell, and the landfill next door became a problem for me. On my way to work one morning, I pulled over and walked up to Louis and introduced myself. We spoke briefly about the trash in the backyard and he begged me to call the city about it. He was eager to move the other tenant, a woman who was in the prostitution business with underaged children who smoked weed, out of the house as soon as possible. And he wouldn’t be able to call the police himself because he didn’t want to draw attention to himself (translated: outstanding warrants).
As Louis’ story about the happenings around the house over the past several weeks unfolded, I was quite surprised that it was only 9 months worth of trash stashed in the backyard that had caught my attention. Most fascinating was probably Louis’ job though. He is a marijuana sitter for a living. He travels around to grows and stays to help care for the plants through certain phases of growth. He gets paid quite a bit too. He also makes deliveries to parties and festivals. He gets antsy when he has to stay in one place too long, and in particular with a woman who would often take off and leave her underaged children at the house by themselves while he slept in the next room. His truck had Texas plates, but he explained that he couldn’t really go back to Texas because he has too many felony warrants there, but for crimes that are only misdemeanors in Colorado due to legalization of marijuana. He referred to several other acquaintances who were in the same situation, running from Texas and relocating in Colorado to avoid being charged with felonies. Having worked as part of the criminal justice system for the better part of the past 25 years, I found this an interesting unintended consequence of legalization. He was also thankful for the fact that he could carry a gun in Colorado since his crimes were not felonies here.
We had a good conversation. I decided that he was somewhat attractive except for the awful state of his teeth. He encouraged me to call the city and even the police, that I shouldn’t have to deal with all the garbage in the backyard, having two young children and all. After speaking with him for about 45 minutes, I thought that maybe the garbage in the backyard might have been the least of my concerns for the past several months, had I been wiser.
Now, both tenants are gone, and the owner of the house has pulled up a dumpster and the dirty work has begun. My other neighbor informed me that the owner would be removing the grow from the house permanently, as he had had Louis remove all the plants and equipment, and that he might even sell the house. At first, I was hopeful. Maybe a nice family would move in next door and I wouldn’t have all the constant car and person traffic, as well as the really smelly period just before harvest, when, before a few weeks ago, I thought hundreds of skunks were being slaughtered each summer. But then, isn’t there a saying about familiarity or the known versus the unknown?