First off, there’s Cannabis for Dummies, a paperback that presents gobs of information about the marijuana plant that even a dummy can understand. Then there are “dummies for marijuana.” They’re scarecrows that look like people, especially in the dark, and are meant to deter thieves from ripping off a crop.
Marijuana growers will do almost anything to protect their beloved weed. They will build fences, rely on watch dogs and patrol gardens with flashlights and guns, especially at harvest. They will also buy dummies and place them at strategic points to fool wannabe thieves.
Johnny Green (not his real name) bought a half-dozen dummies online at Halloween. They ran on batteries, and as Johnny says, “they were a very talkative group at one time.” Now the batteries are dead. The crop has been harvested and dried, much of it sold, while the dummies have nowhere to go.
For years, black market growers have been more afraid of rip-offs than police raids. Thieves can arrive at any time of day or night. Cops travel conspicuously. Sometimes a grower on a mountain top can see them coming and get out fast with some of the crop. Farmers also band together, pool resources and take turns patrolling dirt roads.
Years ago a grower in the hills above Cazadero captured a thief, tied him up, beat the shit out of him and then released him. Turns out a relative was a cop. The Cazadero grower was arrested and sent to jail.
Also, in Cazadero, a cannabis consultant was promised a share of the crop come harvest. When the guys reneged on the deal, the consultant showed up with friends and took what he thought was rightfully his. The sheriff and several deputies arrived on the scene, asked questions and let everyone go. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. The deputies didn’t want to make arrests, book the suspects and watch them post bail and walk away.
One of the best movies about wannabe thieves is The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Mexican bandits show up in the mountains, where four gringos are panning for gold, and claim to be Federales. When one of the prospectors asks for badges, the actor played by Alfonso Bedoya says, “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” The gringos hold off the desperados until the real Federales arrive and save the day.
In California, cops have in fact occasionally protected legitimate growers against thieves. What the long arm of the law hasn’t been able to do is protect them from property owners armed with lawyers and money. For the last several years, they’ve carried out aggressive campaigns meant to ban cannabis. Might they be frightened by dummies? It’s unlikely but worth a try.
Jonah Raskin is the author of “Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.”