How Big Alcohol Is About to Get Rich Off California Weed
More than 20 years later, Hezekiah Allen remembers the Blackhawk helicopters hovering over his childhood home, the armed soldiers barricading the road to the family’s northern California pot farm, the neighbor who hang-glided to escape from the Feds. More than once, Allen came home from a friend’s house to find his mother and stepfather had been arrested again.
Allen eventually entered the family business and was himself arrested in 2009 for cultivation and intent to sell. The charges, dropped for lack of evidence, didn’t impede his ambitions: in 2014, he ran unsuccessfully for California State Assembly on an environmental platform. A few months after bowing out, the scruffy 30-year-old college-dropout, who was by then the executive director of a coalition of small-farm marijuana growers, moved to Sacramento and elbowed his way into negotiations over new rules governing how medical marijuana would be grown, distributed and sold.
“Our parents wanted to get back to the land. We want to get back into the system,” says Allen, who grew up in a house with no plumbing. “I’ve been lying my whole life about who I am and what my family did. Now I’m addicted to telling the truth.”