The worlds of marijuana, pro wrestling, and politics have had their overlaps at times, but rarely have they all converged in one place for prolonged periods. That is until you meet Mark Adam Haggerty.
“I love to smoke and I love to watch wrestling. They were always two [constants]. They were two things that I never thought I would be able to make a living at doing, which is really interesting,” he explained.
The California-raised, New Jersey-living, mustachioed, stylish, and suited 32-year-old is the ring announcer and occasional performer for a growing number of independent wrestling promotions across the country. To date, he’s worked with 60 different promotions in 18 states and three different countries.
Before entering the ring, Haggerty was part of California’s medical marijuana community. As a young adult in the early 2010s, Haggerty was living with a girlfriend and making ends meet with fresh-out-of-college type jobs. His girlfriend connected Mark with a job at a collective in Long Beach, the town Haggerty grew up in. The collective was the Organic Market Garden on Wardlow Avenue. A one day gig became regular work at OMG, where he’d eventually become manager.
He remembers the array of patients he got to meet. “The ones that I always talk about specifically are these 60, 70-year-old ladies who were losing their hair from chemo. They come in and they’ve never partaken in cannabis or anything in their lives. They grew up like thinking like, ‘Oh, it’s a drug’ and now their doctor, their actual doctor, not some guy in like a parking lot, their actual doctor is saying this can help you.”
Haggerty considers those interactions personally fulfilling and was felt as he detailed his passion for helping such patients. The balance between their needs for the plant and his recreational wants for it was something he better understood along the way. This realization came, in part, during numerous raids the collective experienced between his time working there from 2011 to 2016.
Local authorities raided the collective numerous times. OMG received daily citations on its door, totaling $400 each day. “We never paid them because we didn’t believe in the law,” he said.
The hurt, anger, and passion in Haggerty’s voice became more evident when he detailed the raids. Often the efforts would result in police arresting Haggerty, the collective’s owner, a security guard and maybe a customer or two.
“The four or five of us are in there and we’re all getting arrested and thrown at the ground. I’ve seen people have their teeth knocked out just because these local cops want to throw their authority around. And when they come in, not only are we getting arrested. We have to go to trial and we have to deal with all those things, but they take all your product too.”
He added that every raid cost the collective $30,000. While the owner did reopen several times, the city eventually mandated its closure.
The closing of the collective led to a chance to work in growing. The opportunity paid much more each day and led Haggerty into the field for three years. However, there was a staggering difference between working in a grow and the collective. “The biggest issue that I didn’t like with growing is I am a social butterfly…When you’re growing, you’re usually the only person “in the office.” You’re there by yourself listening to music. It’s very early mornings to very long days, and it’s a process, and you really have to be in love with to give it that kind of commitment.” He added, “I was in love with it for a while, but it was just the kind of thing where I didn’t know if I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.”
While working in a grow op proved not to be for him in the long-term, Haggerty did come across two additional benefits of working: His two cats, Indica and Sativa. The cats came from a grow op in Woodland Hills, one he did not work for, and have stuck with Haggerty through numerous states and even a break-up.
When he and his girlfriend were dividing their belongings, Haggerty knew he had to keep his pets. “When she and I ended up breaking up, I was like, ‘You keep the TV, you keep the apartment, I’ll go find a new one. I’m taking these cats. I’m taking them with me and I’ve had them ever since. They’ve traveled with me from Los Angeles to Long Beach to New York to New Jersey and hopefully to Orlando when I get signed.”
In addition to wrestling and cannabis, Haggerty’s life has often consisted of politics. “I joke all the time. The politics are my favorite sport. My dad was the mayor of the town I grew up in. It’s something that I’ve always been very fascinated with to this day.”
That interest in politics led him to work in the field before making the jump into pro wrestling. “I got really into a political action committee, a PAC, that was specifically geared toward reforming medical laws throughout the country…One thing led to another and I ended up as the press secretary to a local politician in Long Beach.”
Today, Haggerty continues to work in both wrestling and politics. In the ring, Haggerty’s booming voice helps wrestlers resonate with the crowd. As a press secretary, Haggery’s words help convey the message of influential lawmakers.
Haggerty began shifting back into wrestling around 2014 thanks to the WWE Network. There, he caught up on the latest in the ring and happenings he had forgotten about over time. This inspired him to create his own blog and podcast, which would eventually lead to work in the industry.
At this time, he’d find all three loves overlapping in his work. “I started doing [wrestling work] in my free time between the politics. I was still doing a little bit of growing on the side, a little politicking for the MMJ industry.” Eventually, a political contract would bring him to the East Coast, where independent wrestling is much more prevalent and accessible to fans.
Haggerty was thrilled with his newfound access to his lifelong passion. One day, a little under three years ago, Haggerty received his opportunity while backstage at a show. Thanks to an announcer not making it, and Mark having his own suit, he got his first on-camera role. Today, Haggerty continues to build up his brand, working for a number of promotions, including notable names like Chikara, Turnbuckle TV and Battle Club Pro to name a few.
Haggerty has witnessed cannabis use in the industry as well, something he also does. “It’s very popular whether it be for relaxation or healing,” he explained. He and others on the road have learned that with fears of cops and illegal states, pens may be the best option to get their treatment after a show.
He also credits wrestling with being able to come out as gay in April 2018. After being in the closet for five or six years, the Irish Catholic-raised Haggerty still did not find himself in any of wrestling’s hyper-masculine scene, or in the feminine-inspired exoticos made popular in Mexico’s lucha libre wrestling scene.
Eventually, he would begin to find the people he was most comfortable around and able to relate with. Wrestler and fellow LGBTQ member Killian McMurphy is one Haggerty credits immensely. “I saw Kilian, and he’s The Shamrock Shooter, you know what I mean? He’s this badass like brawler. And I was like, ‘Oh, so you can do anything. You can literally do anything.’ So, he gave me confidence right off the bat to start coming out to people.”
He also credits another wrestler and one of his best friends, Dirtbag Dan, for being more concerned about a lighter than Haggerty’s sexuality as a significant point in realizing that being gay did not matter to most in the industry. He recalled the moment he came out to Dirtbag Dan. “We went outside to have a cigarette and he’s like, ‘Hey, you gotta light?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, hey man, do you mind if I tell you something?’…And I told him. His immediate response was, ‘Hey, that’s what’s up. Anyway, do you have a light or should I go back and find one?’”
At June’s Battle Club Pro show in Brooklyn, Haggerty was just one of several in the LGBTQ community performing on the bill. Not one person had their sexuality mentioned as part of their character—much less have their orientation demeaned, as older generations of wrestling often did. Instead, the only mentions were positive nods found in ring gear.
The only instance where sexuality was on clear display that evening was when a “fan,” a grown man with a child by his side, shouted an offensive homophobic term at a wrestler prior to the start of the main event. Haggerty quickly shot back on the microphone, telling the person to shut their mouth.
In past eras, Haggerty may have been the one to catch flack for breaking character or going off script. Instead, Battle Club Pro’s owner, Joakim Morales, halted the event until the person was removed from the venue. Morales got on the mic and told the audience as well as the offender that his organization, like a growing number in the indy scene, has no place for hate of any kind – especially for someone as nice as Mark Adam Haggerty.
Today, Haggerty is excited for many reasons. He’s working in politics and growing his brand on social media and on the road. However, nothing takes the place of wrestling, even cannabis. He said if he got an offer tomorrow that forced him to quit cannabis and politics, he would miss the two, but he knows where his true passion lies above all else.
The post Mark Adam Haggerty: How a Grow Op Leader Became the Voice of Independent Wrestling appeared first on High Times.
Originally appeared in: https://hightimes.com/culture/people/mark-adam-haggerty-how-grow-op-leader-became-voice-independent-wrestling/