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Confessions Of A Cannabis Cultivator

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I am happy to say at long last the war on Marijuana is finally just about over.  One of the most versatile, treasured and widely cultivated plants in the history of the world has won.  Nixon, the “Just say No!” Reagans, and the rest of the misguided drug warriors who do not understand Marijuana mostly because we have all been lied to for more than a few generations now can all go suck it, you have lost.  Marijuana is being sold legally over the counter without a prescription in Colorado, Washington and soon to be Oregon.  Medical Marijuana is now legal and being tendered in 23 states as of last count.

I am quite certain that if I had asked any of my friends 15 years ago at the start of this new century if they thought Marijuana would be outright legal in our lifetimes, most of them would have said no.  It is important for people to know that the state of things today, the loosening of failed asinine drug laws, did not just suddenly coalesce out of the blue.  There has been a concerted and dedicated movement afoot for many years by many many people to make this happen, and I am very proud to say I have played an active part in it.

You see, I have a confession to make that may or may not be a surprise to people who know me.  Before I reveal the obvious, I will say: I am a dedicated musician.  I am a college graduate with a good paying job who is married to his high school sweetheart.  I am a good father.  I vote in every election, I own my own home, and I pay my taxes on time every year.

I have also been growing Marijuana for the last 25 years.

Photo by Jeff Stetson
Photo by Jeff Stetson

Just as I do not begrudge the 100 or so million law abiding Americans that enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two after work in the evening, I would ask that you do not begrudge me and many more of your very own neighbors and coworkers the right to enjoy a sacred an ancient herb.  The old adage of the spaced out Stoner, unmotivated in life and unlikely to succeed is rubbish.

Lets go in for a close up shall we.

Photo by Jeff Stetson
Photo by Jeff Stetson

Tell you what, if you still think Marijuana should be a DEA Schedule 1 dangerous drug with no legitimate or therapeutic value, if you believe those who grow or use it should still be treated as criminals and you want to support that, I would say this.  This must not be America, this must not be a free country after all, so do me a personal favor and take all the albums you have ever listened to and throw them in the garbage, because Marijuana has always been a big part of most all the Music you have ever listened to.  While you are at it, don’t watch the NBA anymore either because guess how stressful and guess what helps many pro ball players be able to play 82 games a year and live out of a suitcase on the road without their families.  To deny people the right to use Marijuana is on par with denying Global Warming or denying Gay Marriage.  Marijuana is everywhere, it is part of our cultural heritage America, and has been for a very long time, and you know what?   its fine, it really is.  You have nothing to fear from a plant that, if you are religious, you know who put it here in the first place now dontcha?

On a lovely fall day in 1990, school freshly in session, maple leaves beginning to fall from a nice breeze in the air, I was hanging out in my college era apartment on Eddy Ave. Missoula Montana with my good friend, let’s call him Jason.  We were sharing bong hits from a lovely glass bong he had at the time and discussing the fact that the only pot we could get our hands on anymore was of very low quality, what we called brown bud, seeding and stemming required.  You see, Reagan really turned up the Miami Heat on the War on Marijuana, and by the late 80s, by the time we were out of high school, it was hard to find quality Marijuana, in Montana at least.  So as we sat contemplating this, one of us said, ‘what we really need to do is just grow our own.’

‘Oh Yeah!’ Jason says and out of an enormous backpack he carried everywhere that contained everything he needed in life including a basketball that had gone missing in the very same backpack no less, Jason pulls out Ed Rosenthal’s Marijuana Growers Handbook.  ‘Let me see that’ I said, and so it began…

Back then the fear of being incarcerated for possessing let alone growing weed was the real deal.  There are STILL TODAY, lots of people in prison all over the country for doing just that.  Oklahoma even put a paraplegic in prison for possession of one lousy joint, and continues to be a stronghold of failed public policy and racist draconian treatment of its citizens.  Oklahoma, you are the worst state in the nation on this front, and you really need to get your shit together and reform your drug policies already, enough is enough.

Back in the early 90s I used to walk to Garden City News in Missoula at night and pay forHigh Times Magazine in cash.  Yes, it was wise to be that paranoid, cops everywhere were looking to hang you out to dry for even a whiff of the demon weed.   Cops, Prosecutors and cash strapped Municipalities everywhere are still chomping at the bit to take your house and ruin your life, and for what?  A plant? Seriously?  No.  For money.  Because locking people up and taking their houses for violation of anti Marijuana laws is big business.  This shit has long been overdue to be over.  More of these stupid laws have to change and will change, but more action is still required.  This movement for freedom, dignity, tolerance and compassion must continue until all the drug war POWs in federal and state pens are home and given a chance to live a good life.

It is hard to overstate just how crucial High Times was in the movement to legalize Marijuana.  Thank goodness for First Amendment rights that have worked by design in this matter.  Freedom of the Press I do declare!  Started in the early 70s, everything you ever wanted to know about the plant, about the movement, about cultivating, about becoming an activist, the history of it all, has been written in the pages of that Magazine, and It is in those pages that I found the rationale and a good amount of knowledge to help me become an expert grower.

If you wanted to get involved in the movement to end Marijuana prohibition as I did, there was no better resource than High Times.  There was no internet back in the day.  HT was able to eloquently put a persuasive and clear choice in front of you.  If you did want to fight for justice and reason, you could either work the legitimate side of the movement by becoming part of NORML or the Drug Reform Coordination Network for instance, but to do that meant you had to be visible, you had to be working within the system, you had to be legal in your doings.

– OR –

You could do what I chose to do, remain underground, and the best thing you could do in that regard was to grow, because if enough people were growing their own, there was no possible way authorities could enforce the laws against pot.  There was a PBS Frontline episode 15 years ago that proved that fact with an interview with the Sheriff of King county Washington who estimated at the time there was a grower on every city block in every town between Oregon and Canada, and that is no exaggeration I can assure you.  His quote is as good as gold:  ‘You can only police people as much as they are willing to be policed.’  To that I say, you damn right Sheriff, thank you.

There is no legitimate argument for a continued prohibition of Marijuana, there just isn’t.  And when you know all the facts, the truth of how it became illegal should make every American take pause at just how easily power can be abused to the detriment of an entire society.  The Cannabis or Hemp plant is just too useful, and the consequences of its use for personal consumption too benign for any rational person to deny the value.  We need this plant.  We really do.  Rather than broaden those arguments here I will refer you to the bibliography listed below, so I can get back to my story.

I’ve always had a green thumb, my mom was a great gardener and I learned a lot from her.  I have a big garden every year full of yummy veggies and berries.  I started growing Marijuana with a two foot by two foot by three foot box made out of particle board with a few fluorescent lights and some seeds from some rather bad weed.  I quickly learned that bad weed gives bad seed, grows bad weed.  I also learned early on that organic soil and good air flow help too.  In Missoula however I was lucky, I had friends. I had friends that grew and trimmed out in the wilds of Montana at some elevation mind you.  I also had new friends from school that came up from Northern California who were raised in the grow culture of the now legendary Emerald Triangle, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity.  My friends had good seeds, very good seeds indeed.

A little later on we were visiting friends here in Seattle, and I was lamenting the fact that although the flowers I was growing were of better and better caliber I wanted to grow bigger ones, yes?  So, to the U-District we went, to the Indoor Sun Shoppe for a 400 watt high pressure sodium bulb.  Now, I had good seeds and a good light, and after a trip to Amsterdam a little while later, I had the best of the best seeds.  God bless the Dutch purveyors of progressive thought and harm reduction public policy that they are.  I love Holland.

When we moved to Seattle in the late 90s I inspected the crawl space in the house we were renting and discovered the remnants of a small grow op.  I cleaned it up a bit and plugged in my lamp and grew a very nice crop of a Purple Royale from Hempworks Amsterdam.  When we bought our own house here in Seattle the first thing I did was yes, build a grow room and get a crop of Serious Seeds AK-47 going.  Believe me lots of people have grow rooms here.  I can walk in any direction from my house and smell the growing Ganja floating in the air from houses everywhere.  It is part of the culture, it is part of our heritage.  It is normal.

These days I just grow a few crops a year for me and a few close friends, one of which has MS.  Marijuana is very effective in treating symptoms of MS.  In the past I have also grown for people who smoke to relieve their stutter.  I have grown for quite a few very well known musicians as well. Seattle is a great place to stock up on weed when you come through town on tour.  My son knows it as essentially a medicine for adults to treat a variety of things with, like MS or my anxiety and back pain for instance, but also just to have a good time, like a Hobbit with a flagon of beer and a pipe full of the Ole Toby.

Although I cheer the now legal retail sale of Marijuana for use as a medicine or as a recreational substance as outstanding progress.  I see profit starting to, in my opinion, delude the original spirit of the plant and the movement.  People are charging and paying ridiculous amounts of money for “Legal weed” up to 30 dollars a gram, which is just not right.  I think , I hope the pricing will even out over time though.  However, there is something else much bigger happening.  It is not just about getting high as some would have you believe, and it is here that my journey with the wonder weed will continue.

Hemp.

Hemp was THE world commodity before fossil fuels and I can assure you with the decline of fossil fuels Hemp has already begun to rise again. The British Empire was built on hemp rope and sails after all.  Recently the US congress in a line item added on to the 2014 Farm billnow signed into law by President Obama, has legalized Hemp Farming for industrial use in the United States.  The potential to revitalize small town Farm America is now real.  It is time, and it is not just about rope and cloth and getting high.  You can quadruple battery storage with graphene cheaply made from hemp.  You can press oil for a variety of uses for both foods and fuels.  You can make wonderful fabrics, paper, hemp concrete building blocks and car door panels, and the best part is you don’t need much fertilizer and you don’t need any chemical herbicides or pesticides.  The revolution really has begun.

I don’t intend to stay in the city for too many more years, I want to farm east of the mountains and now I finally have what I have wanted for so long, the OK to grow the one thing I have always wanted to grow, Fields of Green that Future Farmers of America can make a living from with pride.

Grow Hemp. Grow America. TC mark

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