WEST VIRGINIA—Father and son coal miners Darryl and Jase gaze out over the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, an expanse of coal country long since forgotten. With oil and natural gas prices at an all-time low, their small burg has become a ghost town frozen in time. A place for the history books. Darryl explains how he and his son were just given notice that the coal company they’ve mined with for over five generations is officially closing at the end of their shift on Friday.
“We knew this day was coming. The mine has been winding down for years,” says Darryl.
“We might be coal miners, but we’re not stupid,” echoes Jase. “So me and my kin have been working on a ‘Plan B’ just for when this day arrived.” Jase flips on his helmet light and motions, “Follow me.”
We’re entering a mine shaft that hasn’t been worked in over a decade. The cavernous entryway is a junkyard of rusted out machinery and dilapidated bracing. “All we need to grow bud is damn easy to bring inside the mine,” says Darryl. “It’s a challenge to keep it warm and drop the humidity low enough, but who gives a crap – it’s all powered on the mine’s dime.”
Darryl explains how he’s invented foolproof ways to “borrow” electricity in the area and has been growing cannabis in abandoned mine shafts for almost 40 years. He’s now passing down all that hard-earned knowledge to the next generation. The difference now: it’s no longer a hobby, it’s a matter of survival for his family and his struggling town.
“We know coal isn’t coming back, no matter what that pandering, orange-assed baboon Trump keeps spewing,” says Darryl. “So I’m getting my boys up to speed on growing pot in these mine shafts. We need to build something from these ashes.”
Darryl says he’s got bigger plans in mind than growing a few buds with his boys. He’s looking to reclaim his town and he knows cannabis can do that. “Hell, I heard Bob Marley’s family bought a prison out there in California to build a pot farm in,” says Darryl. “It’s no different what we’re doin’ here. Like the song says, It’s redemption.”
With a plan to apprentice a few eager locals under the condition that they keep the trade alive, he’s hard at work teaching the next generation how to cultivate. “I know this isn’t exactly legal, but neither is moonshining and there are plenty of old boys doing that up in these mines,” says Darryl. “We’re all family up here, we look out for each other. We’ll work on getting it legal someday. But for now, I’m looking to save this town with cannabis.”