Our editorial director and top ganja photographer recalls how he achieved an epic pot shot.
Twenty years ago, I ran into a loose confederation of marijuana smugglers in Arizona. Many in the group were trying to get out of the business, since the risks had become too high: Law enforcement was more vigilant (even though tons of pot were still getting across the Mexican border), and some of the smugglers had already been through the legal meat grinder once—so the specter of a second arrest and serious jail time had made more than a few of them reluctant to continue in the trade. But every now and then (usually when a need for fast cash arose), they’d decide to move a load.
A “load” was usually 100 pounds or more of brightgreen Mexican sativa—however much you could manage to fit inside the trunk of a nondescript car—compressed into slabs or bales.
During the time I knew these outlaws, they turned me on to a number of different stories that wound up in the pages of High Times. But my dream was always to photograph a load. They put me off for a couple years; then, one Sunday in May 1996, they gave me the chance.
We drove to a convenience store on the outskirts of Phoenix. They pointed to a car across the parking lot, a worn-looking Dodge something or other, then handed me the keys and said, “If you want to shoot the load, you have to drive the car.”
Now that’s a dangerous photo.
The load’s next stop was a remote house 200 miles away. My friends followed closely behind me the whole way, ready to start driving “like complete assholes” to attract the attention of any cops who might decide to pull me over. Luckily, we made it there without a hitch and, once in the garage, I erected an edifice of bales inside a suitcase—a perfect centerfold for our travel issue (Sept. ‘96), and a lifelong memory for me. Dan skye