The Cornbread Mafia

A Homegrown Syndicate's Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History
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A Homegrown Syndicate

Beginning in June 1989, newspaper headlines blaring the phrase “Cornbread Mafia” ran around the globe — all to describe a network of 70 outlaw Kentucky farmers busted on a network of 30 farms, with what law enforcement claimed was 200 tons of marijuana.

These Kentucky men, mostly from Marion County, stunned federal and local law enforcement, who never dreamed that the largest homegrown marijuana syndicate in American history could be in their backyard. Before Cornbread, the DEA assumed that most American pot was smuggled from Latin America or Asia. Little did they know, the most ideal conditions for growing cannabis were in the Bluegrass State.

How the Cornbread Mafia Began

The Cornbread Mafia knew something that no one else did: that Kentucky sits on the 37th parallel, the same latitude line that runs through the Hindu Kush mountains, where indica cannabis strains originated.

This band of Kentucky farmers began planting marijuana crops because they understood that Kentucky, with its optimal growing seasons and rich agricultural climate, is in the perfect position to grow some of the greatest outdoor marijuana crops in modern times.

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In 2005, Cornbread Hemp co-founder James Higdon began his project to write the true story of The Cornbread Mafia. His relationship with members of the Cornbread Mafia gave him particular insights into the mafia-style storylines emanating from Marion County, Kentucky.
Higdon's book, The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate's Code Of Silence And The Biggest Marijuana Bust In American History, was published in hardcover in 2012, in paperback in 2013, and released as a second edition in 2019.


Jim Higdon is a native of Lebanon, Kentucky. He holds degrees from Centre College, Brown University, and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico before returning home to write The Cornbread Mafia. He then used his knowledge of the cannabis industry to co-found Cornbread Hemp.

- Jim Higdon, co-founder -

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The Cornbread Mafia - Paperback

Regular price$17.99
The national bestselling account of the biggest marijuana bust in American history, set in central Kentucky. Revised paperback (2019).

Cornbread Mafia CBD - Learn from the Author

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