Meet the TrimPro. It's the steam drill of the trimming world, but John Henry Trimmer's only hope of besting it is through finesse, not speed. Protruding handles and bright yellow warning labels break up its sleek, shiny cylindrical body, which rests on four legs. To trim, you simply turn on the machine and put the buds in the open top. Leather fingers move the buds over a metal grate while steel blades chop off the leaves that go through the grate. Finished buds can be removed through a hatch on the front.
Trimmers view the machines with distrust. "Are we really gonna bring machines in and take people's jobs?" one trimmer said incredulously. A machine can't match the human touch, she said -- it can't pick out spots of mold, and the rough treatment jostles the buds and knocks off THC crystals.
Kevin Jodrey, cultivation director at the Humboldt Patient Resource Center dispensary in Arcata, said that the machines coat the buds in sap and prematurely darken them. "Ultimately hand trim is a better product," he said.
Still, the TrimPro can trim buds many times faster than is possible by hand.
Joey Burger, owner of Trim Scene Solutions in Redway, said that trimming machines can help make a small mom and pop operation profitable. "A grower can save a little money and be faster and more efficient and not take the security risk [of having trimmers]," Burger said.
Burger's store can't legally sell any trimming equipment to known growers, and its trim machines, which range in price from $500 to $16,000, are ostensibly intended for hops or legal herbs. Marijuana is not talked about in the store. "It's none of our business what our customers are using the products for," he said.