From Checkpoint

As the government announces its plans for a cannabis referendum, a self-described “cannabis master” who grows and sells marijuana, provides insight into the illegal business he’s running, and what a workable legitimate business model could look like.

It was 23 years ago when Mike* started growing cannabis because he needed to raise funds for a family member’s private surgery. On a benefit at the time, it was one way he could help contribute.

“I then continued to grow cannabis to basically feed and provide for my family. I was on a benefit. That’s putting clothes on a kid’s back, shoes on their feet, all the things they need for school and all the extracurricular things they need.”

Speaking to Checkpoint host Lisa Owen, the East Coast man said it wasn’t long until he found employment.

His partner also works, but he kept growing and selling because they’d struggle with low-paying jobs and rising livings costs if he didn’t.

“We had to still keep hustling just to make ends-meet, just to be able to live a bit more better than struggling and having $30 at the end of the week to try and juggle on food.”

The extra money meant their children didn’t live in poverty and miss out on things other kids did.

He earned about $50,000 in his first year – but said that was small change compared to others.

“There are real growers here, where I come from, that are cracking $200,000 a year to over a million.”

An ounce costs about $250 soon after harvest and could go for as much as $600 over summer.

Mike said he’s wanted to stop selling at times, but there was so much demand – and he’s doing something he genuinely believes helps people.