Kenny Wormald (Topher Clark) in Kid Cannabis with Jonathan Daniel Brown (Nate Norman)
An eighteen year old high school drop out and his twenty-seven year old friend start trafficking marijuana across the border of Canada in order to make money and their lives are changed forever.
Nate Norman was hanging out with his buddy Topher Clark when he came up with The Idea. The two friends were sitting around Nate's house, a dumpy little place near the cemetery, and both of them were extremely stoned. And yet The Idea had more legs than your typical pot-inspired idea. It did not involve a second Twinkie inside the first one. It did not involve genetically modifying the bugs so their blood would not be blood but windshield-wiper fluid. It was, in fact, based on a practical application of global economic theory. That, and cheap weed in Canada.
At the time, Nate was a nineteen-year-old high school dropout who worked at a Pizza Hut in Coeur D'Alene -- a gorgeous but dull resort town in Idaho -- and sold the occasional dime bag on the side. Chubby and baby-faced, Nate had never been the type to come up with a million-dollar brainstorm. "He was one of those guys everybody used to pick on," says his friend Scuzz -- Ben Scozzaro, a year ahead of Nate at Coeur D'Alene High. "He looks like the Keebler Elf. That's what we used to call him, actually." Nor was Nate much of a scholar. His girlfriend Buffy once received a letter in which Nate spelled "pot" with an extra "t." "He can't spell 'marijuana,' either," she adds.
Always ready with an eager grin, Nate developed a puppy-dog need for approval -- and perpetually holding proved a quick way to earn the love, or at least tolerance, of his peers. Topher, nine years his senior, initially met Nate as a customer. An avid outdoorsman who hunted deer and elk for meat, Topher didn't have much in common with Nate but found him goofy yet likable, a "fat, funny kid" with a "big heart."
How much marijuana was sold in America last year? The answer is not a number; it's a blinding flash of revelation. It's the sort of brilliant light-bulb burst that led young men - in their late teens and early 20s -- in Coeur d'Alene and Spokane on a Fantasy Island journey lined with the pleasant greens of weed, cash and adventure.
It has revealed a much-wanted drug lord around here to be a smiley, cow-licked pizza delivery kid who looks like he'd mow your lawn and help old ladies cross the street. It has revealed that B.C. Bud, originally planted by draft-dodging hippies rebelling against corporate culture, can become just as big a commodity as McDonald's cheeseburgers and just as about as profitable.
A month later, a woodcutter discovered Butler's body. "Once they found the body," says Detective Morgan, "it was like, 'Holy ****. It's not just kids out here smoking dope and buying Escalades and boats. There's a dead guy out here.'" Investigators quickly tracked down Mendiola, after discovering his number in Butler's cell phone; the crew was arrested in March 2003. Police also began running surveillance on Nate's crew.
Read more about Brendan Butler