Toiling in the Marijuana Fields

A conversation with an organic weed grower in Alaska.

Maximillian Alvarez

A large group of cannabis plants is grown outdoors in a field in Canada. Cole Burston/Bloomberg

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In this episode, we sit down with Justin Whittaker for the first part of an ongoing series of interviews where we’ll be talking to workers on all sides of the marijuana industry — in states where that work is legal and in states where it’s not. Justin is originally from the Midwest, but now he lives all the way up near Fairbanks, Alaska, where he works at an organic weed-growing operation. Alaska was the second state in the U.S. to decriminalize cannabis decades ago; in 2014, it became the third state to legalize recreational use. Justin has seen different sides of the industry, in different states, both before and after legalization. We talk about his life and work, and we talk about the ways legalization has changed things in the marijuana industry for buyers, business owners, and workers.

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Maximillian Alvarez is editor-in-chief at the Real News Network and host of the podcast Working People, available at InThe​se​Times​.com. He is also the author of The Work of Living: Working People Talk About Their Lives and the Year the World Broke.

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