Ronald Reagan Warns the Growers of Topanga

Patti Davis’ The Way I See It is obviously a much better read than Ivanka Trump’s Women Who Work or Chelsea Clinton’s It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, and Get Going!. For instance, Patti wrote about growing 8 foot-tall marijuana plants in the ‘rich, black soil’ of the old chicken coop at her secluded bungalow in Topanga Canyon. She aired out her house before her parents came for dinner in 1977. “It was early November,” she recalled, “And what was left of my marijuana crop was in plastic Baggies, hidden under my bed, waiting to be sold.”

“When we moved into the the living room after dinner, my father started talking about  helicopters flying over the canyons, looking for marijuana plants and people to bust.

‘This is the time of year when the plants are harvested,’ he said, settling into an old oak rocker that had cost me about ten dollars at a garage sale. ‘Thank God I harvested mine early,’ I thought… ‘But does he know? Is that why he’s saying this?’ I will never know the answer, but I suspect he was trying to warn me. It wouldn’t look good if his daughter was busted.

‘I have information because of my years as governor,’ he was continuing, ‘and Topanga is one area they’re going to be concentrating on because a lot of people break the law around here and grow drugs. I don’t know if any of your friends…’ His sentence trailed off, and I abruptly changed the subject.

But after they left that night I called several other growers I knew and passed along the information that had been leaked to me– that narcotics agents would soon be circling Topanga in helicopters.

‘Your father told you this?’ one of them said. ‘Sort of like a double agent kind of thing? I mean, he’s giving us tips about when the narcs are coming?’

‘Something like that, I guess. I’m not really sure what his reasons were…’

‘Well, do you think he’d know exactly when the helicopters are coming? Maybe he has the schedule or something.’

My father was very popular in Topanga for the next few weeks. People were camouflaging their marijuana plants because they’d gotten tipped off by the former governor of California that Topanga was a big target area for busts that year. I didn’t hear about anyone getting caught.”

The Way I See It: An Autobiography, Patti Davis, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992.