According to an article in Healthy Cal, an online magazine about California, some women in the pot industry are dealing with dangerous and violent conditions. While the article’s title—Young Women in Pot Industry Face Exploitation—conjures up images of a nationwide sexploitation of young women, the piece focuses on domestic violence among marijuana growers in Humboldt County, particularly in the southern half.
The article takes on a somewhat over dramatic tone when it makes some blanket statements:
Male violence against women is nothing new in the area. WISH has been operating for 25 years in the little town of Garberville. But now there are more women traveling through or camping in the area, and violent encounters are growing.
This makes it sound as women in other areas aren’t at risk. Yet, the United Nations estimates that 7 out of 10 women “around the world experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime.”
Nonetheless, the article has some compelling anecdotes. The piece argues that many of the cases handled by WISH involve young, single women who are
…lured to farms by promises of work, money and, often, romance. The women are hired for trim work, which involves cleaning freshly harvested pot and preparing it for sale.
Men managing the farms can be paranoid over the threat of raids or people stealing the plants. Women’s cell phones may be taken away and they may not be allowed to leave until season’s end. Some are forced off farms at gunpoint without being paid. Women may be beaten or psychologically controlled.
One story told is particularly striking. According to the article,
Last year, a state forest fire crew found a disoriented 23-year-old Southern California woman dubbed “Karen” wandering a back road in nothing but a sarong. Balletta took her to the emergency room, where they determined the traumatized woman had been slipped a date-rape drug and raped. She had been cooking, cleaning and gardening on a pot farm for three months and wasn’t allowed to go into town.
One of the young guys running the farm attacked her. She ran off but was afraid to seek help from neighbors, who were the pot growers’ friends. She thought she’d just be taken back to the farm, Balletta said.