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Why Two 76-Year-Old Identical Twin Growers Oppose Legalization

Small-time growers in Mendocino County fight for their way of life.

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Robert and John Cunnan are 76-year-old identical twins who have been growing marijuana for over 30 years. Cradled in the micro climate of Mendocino County's Round Valley, the two have seen their share of both success and loss through the years.

“A friend of mine came up here in 1985, grew marijuana and sold it for $2,000 a pound,” Robert told the Los Angeles Times. “And that’s when I thought, ‘You know, you might be able to make a little money doing this.’ ” Over the years Robert has seen the worth in weight of cannabis surpass the worth of gold. “At one time, I sold stuff for $5,000 a pound,” he added. “It was worth more than gold. Now, it’s down to $1,200 to $1,500. But cannabis allowed me to finish my house and get comfortable.”

The Cunnans are legally allowed to grow up to 99 plants on their small farm. The Small Farmers' Association provides a safety net from potential problems a cannabis grower could run into, empowering growers who lack the legal know-how. The brothers are following in the footsteps of renowned horticulturalist Alan Chadwick, the father of organic gardening.

Under Proposition 64, small time growers like the Cunnan brothers probably won't be able to survive the burden of expensive licenses and regulations. The brothers hope to preserve their traditional way of life that has sustained them since 1996, when California legalized medical marijuana. The imminent corporate takeover that would result from Proposition 64, they believe, would spell disaster.

Even though Proposition 64 offers some transitional provisions to small time growers, the older generation of growers hailing from Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties are not happy about the direction the cannabis industry is headed. When asked if they oppose Proposition 64, the brothers confirmed they will be voting against the initiative.