Story by Kyle Kushman

Eddy’s ministry sits high on a hill, at the end of a long, winding driveway dotted with signs that say things like, "If We Don’t Know You’re Coming, Stop and Read the Fucking Signs!" A big yellow caution sign reads, "Vietnam Vet: Do Not Startle." Passing these, you reach Eddy’s Multidenominational Ministry of Cannabis and Rastafari, overlooking green pastures and California’s largest natural lake. Beyond that, on a clear day you can see dormant volcano Mt. Konocti. An unmistakable sense of family and serenity envelops the place.

I met Eddy two years ago at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, where he was a fellow speaker at the cultivation seminar. Immediately I felt a kinship to him. He’s long since left behind a life of booze and drugs that he freely admits controlled him. He was ordained a minister in 1997 through the Universal Life Church. A minister of spiritual reality, he’s a man devoted wholeheartedly to one thing: proving that our federal government has no right to prevent anyone from using marijuana.

How is it possible that in California, where the people—through due legal process—voted on and approved the use of medical marijuana, the government can supersede the will and desire of its citizens? Evidently they can’t: Eddy showed me row after row of 6- to 13-foot-tall ganja plants in various stages of growth. There were 2- to 3-foot buds everywhere; to the trained eye, signs that there would be buds more than 6 feet long come harvesttime.

Started in December, in a cold house with a few lights and more than 3,000 plants, this is a massive project. Eddy preaches organics and only uses natural methods and controls. Bobby is the head gardener on a team of four full-timers. "Sometimes we work day and night. The hardest part is basic maintenance, really. Occasionally you run into a problem and have to hand water everything. That right there is a job."

Thousands of hours of caring and tending produce a lush garden able to help many. At the start, each patient chooses five plants from nearly 100 available strains. Each row in the garden represents a single patient. The ministry charges $2,500 per patient for rental of the land and for the care of its plants. The estimated street value of what five plants will provide is between $40,000 and $50,000. Medicine ends up costing pennies per gram, compared with $18 to $25 per gram in dispensaries and on the streets.

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