(Image via Andrew Burton for Reveal )

A ‘trimmigrants’ workstation. (Image via Andrew Burton for Reveal )

It’s no secret that the marijuana industry brings an infusion of money and seasonal work to the part of the North Bay known as the Emerald Triangle, but there’s a darker side to the industry.

Many of the seasonal job-seekers who painstakingly trim the marijuana flowers are young women who can end up victims of intimidation and sexual abuse. Often taken to remote farms deep in the forest unwitting females, often in their teens and early 20s, are especially easy prey for unscrupulous growers.

According to this recent article by Reveal News, the lure of money brings backpackers, students, and others by the busload every summer. Usually seeking funds for college, travel or just a lucrative summer job, these “trimmigrants” get into trucks or vans without knowing exactly where they’re going, unable to communicate with friends and family for months.

Sarah Rice for Reveal.jpg

Sarah Rice for Reveal.jpg

Legal California sales alone were valued at $2.7 billion last year, according to The ArcView Group, a marijuana market research firm. Sales are projected to balloon to $6.4 billion by 2020 if marijuana is legalized for recreational use. “It’s big business, drawing busloads of job seekers,” said reps.

Here are some of the accounts given to Reveal News about what these summer jobs have entailed for them;

“Students from the nearest college, Humboldt State University, return from a summer of trimming marijuana buds with tales of being forced to give their boss (oral sex) to get paid. Other “trimmigrants,” who typically work during the June-to-November harvest, recount offers of higher wages to trim topless.

During one harvest season, two growers began having sex with their teenage trimmer. When they feared she would run away, they locked her inside an oversized toolbox with breathing holes.”

The article does note that these incidents are the exceptions and that most grow farms are legal and make sure that their workers are fairly treated. However, many young women who pursue seasonal jobs as trimmers now often travel in pairs and the small towns where they arrive for work now keep a vigilant eye out for wrongdoing.

There’s hope that a move towards legalization will bring stricter regulations and accountability for these farms. Read the full article on Reveal News here for a closer look at the lives of ‘trimmigrants.’

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To learn more about life as a ‘trimmigrant,’ read the Press Democrat article here.