≡ Menu


Look for the upstart cannabis industry of Salinas, and possibly a wider swath of the community, to be shaken by a law enforcement search Thursday of the Salinas home of medical pot grower and restaurateur Mike Hackett.

As first reported by the Monterey County Weekly, marijuana and a plastic bag of white powder were found in an SUV parked in front of Hackett’s Maple Park home while the residence was being searched by the San Benito County Unified Narcotics Team early Thursday.

The Weekly has now reported that no bag of white powder was found.

The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office later reported that is had seized 150 grams of marijuana, scales, packaging material for sales, suspected marijuana pay-owe documents, firearms, and ammunition and had found a large amount of currency.

The news release said the search was an outgrowth of Hackett’s arrest July 1 during the Hollister Independence Day motorcycle rally. It said he had been arrested for possession of cocaine for sale. A sheriff’s official said he had been spotted openly sharing small quantities of cocaine with others at a bar.

The Weekly reported that Hackett was handcuffed during Thursday’s search but his lawyer, Tom Worthington, said there had been no arrest. Worthington said the search was authorized by a warrant signed July 14 by a San Benito County judge but authorities would not provide him with a copy of the law enforcement affidavit detailing grounds for the action. Such affidavits are generally made public two weeks after a search.

Worthington said he had known Hackett professionally and personally for many years “and we expect a very favorable outcome.”

A Hackett associate said he understood that law enforcement had received a tip about Hackett’s activities after he was arrested during a bar fight in Hollister during the annual Fourth of July motorcycle rally there.

Hackett owns Casa Sorrento restaurant in downtown Salinas and formerly was a partner in Hacienda Mexican Grill in North Salinas. Article updated to make clear that Hackett is no longer involved in Hacienda. As president of River View Farms, Hackett also has become one of the most prominent players in the Salinas Valley’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry. He was well situated when the industry started blossoming because he had purchased two commercial greenhouses that had been used by flower growers before trade agreements killed the local flower industry nearly two decades ago.

When Monterey County supervisors started handing out permits for commercial marijuana production, they limited the permits to operations within existing greenhouses. The stated intent of that rule was to keep the marijuana industry contained in easily monitored spaces. The result was a real estate boom among the rows of seemingly abandoned greenhouses south of Salinas. A Los Angeles Times article from last year explains the situation well.

Hackett has been quietly active in Salinas-area politics as a campaign contributor and occasional host of political fundraisers. Local law enforcement organizations and politicians have routinely used Casa Sorrento for fund-raisers, with Hackett sometimes donating the space. He was among several commercial pot growers to contribute last year to Jimmy Panetta’s successful congressional campaign, chipping in $1,000.

Hackett is a longtime friend and associate of another significant campaign contributor locally, David Drew, founder of the Growers Pub bar and restaurant downtown. Growers Pub has been the site of numerous political gatherings, which has proved controversial at times because of Drew’s decades-old convictions and prison terms on marijuana- and cocaine-related charges.

Hackett was featured prominently in a recent Sacramento Bee profile of the Salinas marijuana scene.

“Hackett grew up in the valley, the son of a lettuce and celery farmer. He graduated from North Salinas High School and has worked in nearly every aspect of agriculture, including planting, picking, property leasing and farm-pallet manufacturing,” The Bee reported.

“Most recently, in an area surrounded by strawberry and broccoli fields near the Salinas River – the ‘crossroads of heaven,’ he calls it – Hackett was growing poinsettias, succulents, carnations and snap dragons in aging greenhouses. Now he is converting family property to produce cannabis in a venture called Riverview Farms.

“Hackett never has grown pot before, but has no shortage of confidence. ‘I have the best agricultural scientists right here in the Salinas Valley,’ he says. ‘I have the best soil scientists. This is a plant just like anything else. There is no reason we shouldn’t be able to use our technology here and incorporate that into cannabis.’”

“Hackett says one of his greenhouses did ‘a sizable trial’ with marijuana cultivation last year and he was ‘very pleased with the results.’ He is planning on going into the business in a big way, exploring expansion beyond cultivation to a potential retail dispensary and a concentrates manufacturing facility.”


Football PlayerDespite the looming playoff games fraught with supreme import and chances, though long, that this year’s Super Bowl won’t be a snoozer by halftime, this has been a wretched year for professional American football.

League officials were thrown for a big loss after they mistakenly believed that domestic violence among its role model employees is of trifling consequence compared to other moral and legal lapses like smoking marijuana. I do wonder how the League is dealing the fact that two of its stronger post-season teams, the Seahawks and Broncos, play in states where smoking marijuana is now legal.

Then there was the ongoing stupidity of the hapless Washington, D.C., team and its offensive nickname, which many saw as a major karmic factor for the team’s execrable season.

I have a theory that the Newts — my preferred nickname for the D.C. team in homage to the former House Speaker who now inhabits cable news green rooms 24 hours a day living on a diet of pure Obama loathing — would do better if Congressional Republicans hadn’t blocked the marijuana-legalization vote by residents of the District of Columbia.

Check out the Seahawks and Broncos, Mr. Snyder. Really, dude.

Meanwhile, the inherent physical danger of football to players’ brains played a greater role in games during 2014, which were more and more often interrupted to show sideline shots of dazed players being given initial concussion screenings by diminutive members of teams’ training staffs. There were so many of these — love the super-slo camera work on players’ eyes spinning in two directions — that I expected screeners to arrive at my couch to administer exams to determine if I, too, was suffering brain damage.

What day is it?

Sunday, or maybe Monday, or one of those other days they show football, you know, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and other days of the week ending in Y.

What year is it?

Damn these throw-back jerseys. I don’t know. 1954?

What game are you watching?

Don’t remember, been sitting so long my feet and legs have fallen asleep. I think there are too many Rob Lowes out there, though.

Then there were the hideous seasons put together by Northern California’s two American football teams, whose names I withhold to protect the inept

It’s truly the pits when the only news about your local teams after the first playoff round is who is being interviewed for head coach jobs. Thrilling!

The best thing I can say about the Bay Area unmentionables is no one was fatally beaten, knifed or shot before, during or after one of their games. At least I think 2014 was fatality-free, but some stats fanatic or court docket could prove me wrong.

But the capper for a crapper season was the wildcard game between the snake-bit Detroit Lions — why not the Washington Snakes? — and America’s Team, which coincidentally plays in the foreign country of Dallas, Texas.

Not only were the Lions victimized by two egregious calls by the referees — who must have had shock electrodes affixed to their bodies controlled in the league office — that gave the game to America’s Team, but millions of viewers were forced to witness one of the most uncomfortable scenes of male bonding since the days when Richard Nixon and Bebe Rebozo were a hot item on South Beach.

A jubilant America’s Team owner, Jerry Jones, jumped out of his chair, hugged a taller man to his right while, to his left, a jubilant New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put his hands high above his head in an unrequited effort for what — a high ten? Looked like was trying to play air patty-cake.

Then Christie put his hands on Jones’ shoulders and, with tenderness, leaned his head into the super-rich team owner’s’ back. To make the scene even more shocking, Christie was wearing a sweater than no living man should ever wear, of a color variously described as gutted salmon red, poisonous coral and past-expiration Pepto-Bismol pink.

Within hours, Christie was under fire for rooting for America’s team rather than teams in and around New Jersey, for accepting tickets and private jet rides from Jones to attend America’s Team games, and for steering lucrative New Jersey contracts to one of the businesses in Jones’ America’s Company.

The governor’s brother defended Christie rooting for America’s Team on Facebook because, you know, the local teams suck. And Christie went on a sports talk radio show to try to calm the waters with his usual mix of poetry and calm.

Meanwhile, Jeb Bush formed an exploratory committee to issue a possible sigh of relief the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars are not in the playoffs. And he most likely threw out that flamingo-pink sweater vest he had in his closet.

All in all, it was probably the worst year for the league since the early ’70s when then-president Richard Nixon personally advised the coach of the Washington (Bandits, Burglars, Plumbers?) on sure-fire plays to confuse the opposition. Gerald Ford ended up as the new head coach.