Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

February 25, 2010
Kingpins gone straight savor business, Olympic dreams

Bruce Perlowin and Ciro Mancuso, two men who lived separate high lives as big time marijuana smugglers decades ago, have moved on.

Perlowin, featured in a Sacramento Bee report last Sunday, has re-branded himself as a business consultant helping medical marijuana industries pay taxes and follow the law.

Mancuso, profiled in a Tahoe Quarterly Magazine piece by Sierra Nevada ski writer Robert Frohlich, is a cheerleader for his dazzling skier daughter, Julia Mancuso, winner of two silver medals at the Vancouver games and a gold in Turin, Italy in 2006.

Perlowin, who lived in a posh hideaway on 106 acres near Ukiah, smuggled hundreds of tons to Northern California in the 1970s and early 80s, earning himself the moniker "The King of Pot" and a nine-year prison stint.

Ciro Mancuso, who lived in a Squaw Valley mansion, smuggled in nearly $100 million worth of dope in the mid and late 1980s and spent 5 1/2 years behind bars.

Perlowin embraces his marijuana past on his website. Yet he says he is no longer involved in drug distribution, legal or otherwise, and hasn't smoked a joint in generation. "The King of Pot doesn't smoke pot," he says. "I'm sorry. I don't have have a medical condition."

Mancuso prefers to leave his past behind. He told Frohlich, a frequent Bee contributor on the Sierra ski industry, of his frustration when reporters chased after him during the Turin games, trying to tie his daughter's Olympic success to his criminal failures.

After her stellar skiing took over, he said, "I was glad everyone was finally just focused on Julia. This was her show."

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