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Marijuana trimmers use tiny scissors but eye big careers
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) - Washington's marijuana business has created a legal occupation that offers career opportunities for bud trimmers.
"I've done everything from pumping gas to remodeling houses, but I think there's longevity in this," 32-year-old bud trimmer Kurt Vermillion told The Columbian. "I think there's lots of growing room in this industry. I want to do whatever they need me to do."
Bud trimmers make between $12 and $15 an hour and use small scissors to trim away leaves and other things from marijuana buds. Most trimmers work on about a pound to a pound and a half of marijuana per day.
Experienced workers can move up to gardeners or concentrate makers and make $50,000 to $90,000 a year.
For 37-year-old Julie Whittaker, who started trimming buds in November, the job turned out to be less stressful than her former work in the banking software industry.
"I've been learning my way as I go," she said. "I'm intrigued by this whole industry. It's a big shift for me, and honestly I find it to be better regulated than even my old career in banking."
Vermillion and Whittaker work at Cedar Creek Cannabis, where Mark Michaelson, head of operations, is eyeing ways to hold onto workers. The company has 14.
"We want to work on employee retention," he said. "Eventually we'll have health and dental insurance and full benefits for them, too."
Clark County has eight growers that have been approved by the Liquor Control Board, and five stores have opened in Clark County so far and two more are planning to open within two months.
Before the legalization of marijuana, bud trimmers migrated from job to job and were paid in cash by the pound and risked arrest. Now, bud trimmers typically make an hourly wage, though some are paid by the pound.
"I think what happens is people think in this industry, people are just hanging out and maybe even smoking," said 32-year-old Brittny Houghton, 32, whose family owns Cedar Creek Cannabis. "But that's not what we do. It's a real job, it's 9 to 5, you have to be on time, you don't have to be a smoker, and the quality of the work is important."
At CannaMan Farms, another marijuana business, owner Brian Stroh said trimmers come from a variety of backgrounds.
"It's a business that people who work hard can move up in," he said.
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Edmond police find 500-plant marijuana grow
Edmond police say they have located their biggest marijuana grow ever.
“The homeowner called us,” said Jenny Monroe, spokesperson for the Edmond Police Department. “When officers arrived, they saw the back door open and they could see a venting system and all the wiring coming out of the back of the house. They could see some plants and smell a strong chemical odor.”
Inside the home, located in the 1300 block of Jamestown, investigators found roughly 500 pot plants, some as tall as 4 feet.
“The entire home was covered with plants,” said Monroe. “Everywhere except the kitchen.”
The operation was so large, investigators brought in a 22-foot U-Haul truck to clear the home.
According to police, their investigation started a few months ago when a utility company noticed the power had been cut off.
The marijuana growers were siphoning electricity from their neighbors to fuel their illegal activity, police said.
“I saw the guy once,” said neighbor Bill Womble. “He came over once asking if our power was out. That was the only time I saw him.”
Investigators said they’re working on tracking down the people behind the grow operation.
“They were cash-paying renters. The landlord said they never had any issues. This operation was going on in this neighborhood without anyone really being aware of the situation,” said Monroe.
It’s believed the renters may have skipped town.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call Edmond police.
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