Mail Tribune: From High Hopes to near death – A pot grower’s story


On a frosty night in December, James Bowman was alone and overcome with exhaustion. The cannabis grower had worked hard all day processing plants at his BlueSky Gardens near Wimer, lacking the money to keep his crew on hand to provide security through the night.

Arguably Southern Oregon’s best-known grower, the 57-year-old struggled financially to make it through the harvest. His ambitious High Hopes Farm in the Applegate, once toured by legislators as a model of medical marijuana grows, had been raided by federal agents in 2012. He’d spent two years in court to avoid a conviction, which took a toll on his pocketbook.

He needed this harvest to put him back on solid financial ground. Earlier on that fateful day of Dec. 16, 2016, he had just talked to an investor he thought was going to help him out, which eased his mind as he slipped into bed.

Finally, just before 2 a.m., he fell asleep. He was so tired he didn’t have the energy to patrol the grounds first, something he usually did as a security measure. As he lay in bed, he was startled when he heard the front door open.

Was it one of his workers? He called out. No one answered. Bowman sat up on the edge of the bed.

Then seven intruders, all wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle masks, rushed in, with one pulling a pillow case over Bowman’s head and another hitting his skull several times with a gun until blood flowed into his eyes and ears. That was just the beginning of a night of terror that Bowman feared he would not survive.

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