All the trimmings

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

How much money can you make harvesting marijuana during this time of year? My friend says there’s work for me up north but I wanted to know what you think.

—Mike Grant-Labor

Yes. You can make good money. But the money is not particularly easy to get. It requires long hours and hard work, like being on an Alaskan fishing boat, except you probably won’t be thrown overboard or washed out to sea.

The going rate for trimming a pound of cannabis is about $200. A newbie can do maybe a pound in a 12-hour day. And that’s with decent pot. If the bud is larfy or small or riddled with mold, it may take longer. People with more experience can do maybe two pounds. I know someone who can do three pounds in a day, but she grew up on the mountain and is a bit of a legend. Plus, trimming can be boring as hell. You basically sit in a cabin and trim until your muscles cramp up, then you switch hands and trim some more. Perhaps if you are with some cool folks, there may be good conversation and decent food. But really, you just sit and trim and trim and sit. It can be a bit meditative if you have the right mindset, but mostly it’s like working an assembly line.

Don’t just show up somewhere in Humboldt County with your scissors and a sign saying “will trim for weed.” Marijuana is still illegal, and some people are less than scrupulous in their business dealings. If you agree to trim for a bunch of people you don’t know, and they stiff you come payday, who you gonna tell? The best thing to do is to have some work set up before you arrive. Such as your friend.

But the thing is, if someone you know has a good connection to a sweet gig, you don’t even have to go to the Emerald Triangle anymore. Outdoor cannabis is everywhere in California, except maybe Fresno County. From Loomis to Susanville, Marin to Redding, the crops are there, and the growers need help. Good luck, be careful and don’t forget to pack a set of clean clothes in some sort of airtight container. When you leave the shed, you will reek of weed and not know it because you have become inured to the aroma. Having some clothes that don’t smell like a skunk hotboxed a blunt in your car will go a long way toward keeping people from staring at you when you are in line at the bank.

Side note:

Kudos to The New York Times coming out (again!) for legalization. In an editorial piece from October 5, the good people at the NYT (they still drug test their employees, but that’s a different column) announce and encourage support for all three recreational marijuana legalization measures on statewide ballots this November (that’s Alaska, Oregon, and D.C., if you forgot). This is big. Let’s keep it going.