The Selected Quirks of Madjag

The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.

When Skunk Hit Brooklyn

In 1978 I made friends with a few Rastas from Gold Street in Kingston, Jamaica. Most of the time that I spent in Jamaica back then was at Ozzie’s Shack on Jamaica’s western-most, white sand beach in Negril, in the hills above Lucea, or in the wooded slopes of Gold Hill between Sav La Mar and Negril. Somehow one of my contacts in Negril hooked me up with Kingston friends who in turn told me about their relative in Brooklyn, New York City. The guy was a mid-level Ganjaman who had been in that area since the early 1970’s.

I had always wanted to expand to the Big Apple because the higher prices we could receive for our killer quality weed would easily make it worth the trouble of getting it all the way from Arizona to New York. This concept held true for a few years until the highway checkpoints in New Mexico and the increased profiling by Arizona Highway Patrol proved otherwise. We had recently hooked up with a reliable Tucson connection for high-end Mexican sinsemilla and he liked the sound of going East. He was willing to front us decent-sized loads in the 150-250 pound range, a perfect amount for our purposes. Our Arizona homegrown under the Madjag label was in limited supply and sold out quickly right here at home shortly after harvest. So it wasn’t greed as much as it was necessity that lead us to seek out more herb from south of our border once this crazy Tucson connection fell into our laps via a close, close friend from Bumblebee, Arizona.

The Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn is home to a large Caribbean immigrant culture that includes Trinidadians, Haitians, Bahamians, and especially Jamaicans. It was once a quaint Dutch ethnic neighborhood full of well-made Brownstone apartment buildings that over decades, like many of the other traditional borough neighborhoods, mutated into something entirely different. In 1980 the bustling NYC herb business was king and the looming epidemic of crack cocaine for commoners was still on the horizon. We had a weed window of opportunity and decided to make use of it for as long as possible.

After a fairly long getting-to-know-you period, my new Bed Stuy friends were buying up every bud of Mexican Sinse they could get their hands on. This smoke was as good if not better than their legendary Lamb’s Bread that never quite lived up to its name, at least in the commercial quantities that hit NYC streets that I had tried. A nice load of spicy Oaxacan or some potent Guerrero Gold put them at the top of their marketplace. People beat down their doors for more. We were modest in our goals and kept small and reasonable in our deliveries. Let’s just say we had cross-country shipping for our modest business level down to a fine science. Our cover never failed even when challenged closely a few times by the man. No method is bulletproof, they only seem that way until the first failure, yet we never hit that failure and our Rasta pipeline continued for 3 or 4 years.

An interesting aspect of working in Bed Stuy was that white boys stuck out like a sore thumb. Even more obvious was seeing a tall Dreadlock walking down the sidewalk with a white guy. Can you say “Business”? We worked at night as much as possible, connecting at a bare, little basement flat on Halsey Street that served as the shop for small deals up to 1 pound. It was in this stash flat not far from Nostrand Boulevard that I spent many days and even more nights watching customers come and go, mumbling that beautiful Jamaican patois through a crack in the door and then stepping in when cleared for action. My Rasta friends didn’t do business with American blacks who they called “Yankee Boys”. Some cultural barrier just kept the two apart. I believe it was concerned with ethnic loyalty and the concept that if a man went down and he was a Jamaican he wouldn’t spill on the rest of the JA crew. Just as well I suppose. In all the moments I witnessed buyers coming and going I saw only Caribbean men spending dollars with my Rasta crew. The meetings were brief, quiet, and peaceful. Shots rang out on rare occasions some nights, however they were always from down the street. Packing heavy hardware was essential for working in the shop, but using it onsite was never an option unless it was in response to an all out attack or rip-off attempt. And would that be likely when a Dreadie answers the door with a Mac 9 in his hand?

It was a warm evening when I stopped by Satta’s St. James flat in Brooklyn. The shop near Nostrand was extra busy and Mr. S wanted me to stop at a different apartment with Ricky to discuss the homegrown weed that I had been telling him about over the past months of Mexican herb deliveries. He was aware of the reputation of domestic super herb, however he personally had never tested any. Curiosity was flying high this night after the repeated mentions of my homegrown and Mr. S just had to find out for himself. Even his Lieutenant Ricky laughed when I pulled out a skinny pin joint made from a paper torn lengthwise…a ½ piece of rolling paper filled with tiny broken bud pieces lined up and crammed into a straight line. I, too, was laughing for a different reason knowing full well what laid ahead. I was sure he would be devastated like so many other experienced smoke fiends had been before upon trying this new and truly powerful herb from the legendary genetics of Mexican, Colombian, and Afghani strains. Skunk#1.

Mr. S took the second long pull after my startup toke. He saw how long and intensely I was pulling on the pinner and did the same perfectly. As he exhaled a milky-white cloud of smoke I reached for the resin-coated pin joint before he could finish laughing and take his second hit. I wanted him to truly take the tour and evaluate firsthand what one toke could do. It was probably only seconds, but it seemed like a minute or two later that he got a bit strange and was mumbling to Ricky in that enchanting Kingston patois. Suddenly we were going. I barely grabbed my coat and boomed out the door with Rick. We had been banished.

The next day Mr. S called and made it known that we had to come over immediately. Right now, seen. Once inside his tidy, St. James Place brownstone flat with plastic-covered furniture and Jamaican wood art, I was treated to an uncomfortable exchange with him about how and why I had spiked him. He knew that the pin joint had LSD in it and that he had been tripping. After he had quickly sent us out and locked the doors, he had to run in place for 20 minutes, maybe longer, merely to regain his equilibrium and focus. Everything had gone wacky and he just didn’t see a way back. Luckily his body took over within an hour or so and saved the day (night).

I can speak plainly and neutrally when needed. I adopt a “science guy” persona and can peacefully describe a situation in a way that will reach most people, I just have to be patient and methodical: say the truth in metered chunks that make sense. I did this for Mr. S and he knew that I was right on. I felt him release as I continued my explanation. He was a real devil when it came to testing people, too. For instance, he once paid us an extra 2 grand as payment for a roughly $175,000 load and did so intentionally just to see if we’d report his “mistake” or keep that extra dough for ourselves. Slowly his brain cramps came down enough for him to smile, laugh, and start jabbering a mile a minute about how fucking incredible this weed was and how nobody, nobody in his posse had any idea how powerful it was gonna be. Customers would be in his hand and at his command, yes I. Oh what a wonderful land Brooklyn was. And praise be to the Arizona guys for bringing him, in this case, the venerable Sacred Seeds’ Skunk #1. That good herb was Jah Mighty.

The most top shelf we would bring along with our primary Mexi Sensi load was perhaps 3-5 pounds of our stash homegrown. Mr. S would have bought 50 pounds on the spot each time we visited had his customers been experienced with this level of quality herb. They needed some time to adjust and eventually lust for it because they had never toked anything like it. OK, maybe some of them had had a few close calls with some top-shelf Colombo, but otherwise this herb wiped everyone out on their first smoke. Fortunately it became a speedy journey as friends turned on friends and the whole scene was Irie within a few months. He had created a loyal market, a hungry market. When our stock of Skunk#1 was exhausted we switched to a friend’s Arivaca homegrown. Even though we were buying another grower’s herb our AZ cost was quite reasonable and we certainly could double our money back east with no complaints. We had dreamed this dream into existence and loved every minute. I’m sure you players who have been in a similar situation remember that kind of satisfaction. Not big ego, but righteous rewards.

We were growers who had reached out and found a new audience. Nothing like being well-paid for your risks and still being able to remember what mattered most in your heart. Money came and went just like the seasons. We’d grow our plants beneath the hot cliffs and in the intense sun of our canyon. Looking up now and then we’d realize that eventually even the years would roll by and we would need to diversify. Still, money or not, we had the life and it shared a special rhythm and beauty with us. We learned and never forgot.