Humboldt Journal of Social Relations


Previous research on marijuana growers in the United States has primarily focused on those who have been incarcerated for the activity (Weisheit, 1990; 1998). These growers tend to produce large amounts of the product. It may be that large scale marijuana growers who have been arrested may differ in their reasons for growing, their style of growing and distributing and in how they view marijuana growing as an activity from different types of growers; namely small-scale, indoor hydroponic growers who grow primarily for personal use and enjoyment. Our study analyzes one social network of marijuana growers in central and northern Florida. Through intensive field observations and qualitative interviews with 8 people involved in this closed social network of marijuana growers, we discovered that the growers all followed a similar pattern of initial trial and error, learning new techniques from one another to improve their product, to finally maintaining techniques that enabled them to maximize taste, potency and yield. All of the growers in our sample were white middle class men (6) and women (2) with at least a college degree who had already or planned to enter white collar occupations (e.g., a teacher or business owner). Although profitable, the growers greatly downplayed the importance of making money as a reason for growing, describing the endeavor as a passionate activity they performed for enjoyment, to save their own money, and for the high regard they have of plants in general. Discontinuing the activity (thus exiting the deviant career) is often influenced by such contingencies as risk of detection, commitment to family, and conventional occupations. Future research is needed to compare and contrast different kinds of marijuana growers including those whose growing activities are legitimated by state law.