In a sign of how the times truly are a-changin’, last year I received a $500 check from my homeowner’s insurance company to compensate for the loss of a marijuana plant stolen from my garden. Consider, if you will, the distance we’ve travelled from the days of decades past, dodging DEA agents and government helicopters, to the present, when we can be reimbursed by corporate America for purloined weed!
I like to grow things, so when Maine began allowing adults to legally grow a half dozen marijuana plants for personal use, I thought, Why not? I was able to procure two gorgeous female clones, a North Berry and a Dark Star, and planted them in one of the raised beds in the backyard of my home in Portland’s Deering neighborhood.
It was a damp, cold spring, but once the weather warmed the clones responded beautifully. North Berry was the more demure and diminutive of the two, but she was blessed with a gorgeous, citrus-y aroma. Dark Star was magnificent, stretching her stem and leaves to the sun and developing buds the girth of my forearm.
As summer progressed, I tended the beds, feeding the clones and all my vegetables homemade compost every few weeks. As harvest time approached, I grew giddy with excitement.
Finally, the first day of harvest arrived. I set about cutting the fragrant branches, laden with bud, off the North Berry plant, to hang in the basement for curing. As my hands became sticky with resin, I noticed a crew of roofers a few houses down, watching my every move, but didn’t think much of it. After all, I wasn’t doing anything illegal. I decided to leave Dark Star standing for another week or so to allow her to reach full maturity.
The next morning, I walking into the backyard to admire Dark Star and immediately turned away, not wanting to acknowledge what I wasn’t seeing. Dark Star was gone! As my grief gave way to anger and then approached resignation, I realized, Hey, growing pot is now legal, and I’ve been robbed. So what do you do when you’ve been robbed?
You call the police. Which is exactly what I did.
When the Portland police officer arrived, he was very gracious. He asked if I had any idea who the thief was. I mentioned the roofers. Based on my own informal investigation in the neighborhood, I knew they’d finished their job the day before and returned to their company’s headquarters in northern Maine the morning after Dark Star disappeared.
I told the officer the joke I sometimes share with my students at Southern Maine Community College: “Where do roofers go at the end of the workday? Either to the bar or back to jail.” (When I told the joke last semester, one of my students said, “Bill, my dad’s a roofer.” Oops.)
The cop told me there’d recently been a rash of ganja thefts in Portland. It’s an easy, if despicable, way to make some quick money.
My next-door neighbor came over to join the conversation. “I think it was the roofers,” he said. Without missing a beat, the officer sternly retorted, “Hold on there, buddy. My dad was a roofer.” You gotta love a cop with a sense of humor.
The next day, we had a moment of silence before my English class at SMCC began, with a beautiful photo of Dark Star projected on the overhead screen. The students were alternately amused, indignant and saddened by the news of Dark Star’s disappearance.
Police report in hand, I called my insurance company to file a claim for theft, and they took the case seriously. Why not? Dark Star was my personal property, and though she was worth far more than my insurer’s $500 maximum for “plant replacement,” I happily accepted their check. I never sell the stuff anyway, preferring to share it with friends.
On the last day of class, my students and I had a pizza party financed by the proceeds from Dark Star’s kidnapping. We toasted her memory and laughed at the absurdity of it all.