Many years ago I set out on a journey far from home, one which almost everybody I loved and respected begged me not to embark on. Still, I hobbled West toward Humboldt County in my little red pickup truck in search of mountains littered with cannabis fields and luscious emerald green forests stretching all the way to the frigid untouched ocean shorelines of the Pacific Northwest.
While marooned in the Triangle I naturally discovered what would develop into a lifelong obsession with the cannabis plant and the people who grow it. I trimmed, I transplanted, I de-leafed and I learned what I could from those who allowed me to. I lived off grid for months at a time, hauled big ass bags of soil up the side of a mountain, worked in hot greenhouses in the blazing sun and loved (almost) every second of it. Most importantly, I learned to properly respect the plant and prioritize my own personal relationship with growing and consuming the plant. I studied Journalism at Humboldt State and had the privilege of interviewing some of the earliest cannabis brands and collectives emerging from the Triangle, the magnitude of which I couldn’t possibly have appreciated at the time. I distinctly remember the general vibe was cautious optimism. Everyone was apprehensive but they seemed to believe better times were just around the corner, and one day they might be permitted to exhale. Christ Almighty did we miss the mark on that one.
“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”– Hunter Thompson
I’m very protective over those memories and the sanctity of what we were all collectively trying to accomplish out there behind the redwood curtain. Everyone just wanted to get the world high with the best medicine they could make. I only caught the tail end of the good old days. I know nothing of true freedom. The brave men and women who came before me laid down a legacy to pass down to their children and to their grandchildren while simultaneously living under the constant threat of helicopters bearing down on their family homes to usher them away to life in federal prison. They did their work silently, diligently, and most of them risked everything they had every single year just to keep breaking even and preserving their way of life.
Today, the helicopters are still circling and that way of life is under dire threat of extinction. We are down to our last handful of white rhinos, as they say. Small family farms are going belly-up every day, pound prices are in the shitter and the general quality of dispensary product continues to tank for all but a select few companies. State enforcement efforts ramp up every year as the traditional market slowly withers away, taking everyone’s livelihood with it all the way from the 100-plant hill hermits to the casual dime bag peddlers.
The reality is that cannabis equities are becoming more like the third class passengers on the Titanic, jockeying for their position on the lower decks as the ship eases its way toward the ocean floor.”– James B. Francis, CRB Monitor
If all that weren’t bad enough, the community is beginning to turn on each other more than ever before. We sit and bicker online like school children while Chad, Brad, and Thad, the merry band of corporate cannabis buzzards, steal everything we hold dear as a community. They’re taking our land, our genetics, our SOP’s, our hard work, our years of sacrifice and our money while we, “the culture,” spend our time posting typo-laden paragraphs about how shitty Lemon Cherry Gelato is to our Instagram story.
The Artist Formerly Known as Runtz is on my absolute last nerve as a consumer, sure. But the reality is LCG checks every single box for commercial growers today: yield, color, vigor, taste and potency all score high enough no matter who grows it. Deluding ourselves and others that businesses need to ignore market realities for the sake of some arbitrary definition of headiness that almost nobody has managed to create a viable long-term business model from is not only one of the DSM-5 for diagnosing schizophrenia, but extremely detrimental to our collective image as an industry.
I’m bringing this up because it’s an excellent segue into today’s topic: Evolution.
Cannabis is no longer illegal in a growing majority of the country and the market fluctuations we’ve been experiencing can more or less be considered growing pains as we make our way along our own special little arc of American consumerism. Despite the constant surge of flashy mirons, mylars, and hentai-themed eighths which I’ve NEVER understood, the end game to all this is mono or mix-strain Kirkland hash, Safeway-brand distillate seltzers, and cigarette-style packs of Marlboro Greens at every gas station across the country. Craft will always exist especially in California but at a fraction of the availability we enjoy now. There are a couple other ways it could go in the short term but barring any super irresponsible acts of Congress, which I acknowledge is an unrealistic expectation, cannabis will be another boring commodity inside of ten years.
By boring I mean it will be bought and paid for just like everything else and if we don’t start assimilating with the grown-ups a bit, we are little more than a doe with a broken leg, enjoying its last few moments in the sun before we are ripped to pieces by the predators lurking just over the horizon. They are coming the moment it is convenient for them. We can laugh and dance and sing but the big bad filthy rich ice wolves are coming for every single cent. We need to step into the light a bit and occasionally start acting like literate business people rather than the bloodthirsty tribe of hyena-ferrets we’ve been resembling as of late, at least when it comes to our online activities which brings me to my next question:
WHEN IN THE NAME OF AWARD-WINNING CANADIAN SINGER/SONGWRITER CELINE DION DID WE DECIDE TO START AIRING SHIT OUT ON INSTAGRAM EVERY TIME SOMEBODY STUBS THEIR DAMN TOE? SISTER MARY MOTHER OF GOD WE USED TO HAVE RULES ABOUT THIS SHIT, WHO RAISED YOU FUCKING PEOPLE?
I’m sorry for yelling, that was unladylike of me but someone had to say something. The loudest three percent of us need to mind their manners and shut the fuck up once in a while. For a bunch of supposedly former criminals we sure do seem to have an issue as a community with airing our dirty laundry out on the internet for everyone to see, also known as dry snitching. I don’t follow any tobacco or wine executives but I don’t think ANYONE in any other comparable industry is participating in anything resembling the incredibly public-facing head-assery Olympics that has taken place over the last several weeks. To wit:
- Posting screenshots of your lawsuits is bad enough and we absolutely need to nip that shit in the bud because grown men, not to mention industry leaders with all the money in the world, taking time out of their day to post childish response videos containing soap-opera-level personal quibbles makes us look exactly like the “flea market circus” the host of everyone’s favorite podcast thinks we are. Everyone tighten up a bit and spend more time in the garden, I’m begging you. Very rich and litigious men, not to mention all 535 members of Congress are watching us out of the corner of their eye. They’re biding their time and keeping detailed records of blatantly obvious dumb dog fuckery like a whole industry of supposed professionals going to Civil War with each other online instead of picking up the phone and handling shit amongst ourselves.
- Allegations of cheating at the Emerald Cup might have been enough to raise my eyebrows an inch or two if the accused parties weren’t already known far and wide for having immaculate product and winning or placing in every cannabis contest that means anything in the last several years. For those who didn’t catch wind of what happened, I won’t give credence to rumors by offering specifics and frankly I wasn’t there so I don’t fully know or care what happened. All I know is it’s a fucking weed contest, not WWE. After the allegations surfaced, people I respect and look up to in this space publicly said disgusting things because a woman happened to be among the accused. Nobody had an excuse to behave the way they did and the community was way too goddamn eager to watch some of our most celebrated members fall on their faces. We all need to do better than we did that day.
- The Unpaid Tabs Instagram page is a nightmare and I am taking this opportunity to publicly ask the owner of that page to take it down before somebody inevitably gets hurt. Everyone owes everyone money in cannabis because the game has been rigged against us from the get-go and drawing attention to that for the sake of your own personal vendettas is an amateur hour play at best. I’m not making excuses for anybody. It’s a serious problem and one we need to address properly by passing legislation that allows us to open bank accounts and enjoy tax breaks, but fielding anonymous reports of people claiming they’re owed money by major companies in today’s day and age is not helping anybody. It’s 70% petty gossip and it’s the last thing we need right now. This is not the first time somebody has tried to do this and it is so goddamn irresponsible. Quietly collect your debts in person or charge it to the game, but if you opt to go whining to whoever’s running the unpaid tabs page you probably don’t belong here in the first place.
My point is that even when a small portion of the community behaves poorly, it reflects horribly on all of us. If we want to have any say in the future of cannabis, we need to start collaborating and presenting solutions instead of constantly bitching about the same problems to anyone who will listen. It’s bad form. I want to wake up in 20 years and still be a part of this thing because I shed blood, sweat, and tears to be here today and I deserve my spot like so many others. We have to be the example. We have to bail water out faster than it’s coming in. We are the Thin Green Line preventing the cannabis industry from cataclysmically spiraling down to a very midsy place from which we will never recover, a place which will be owned in totality by companies like Glass House if we don’t stop throwing stones in a… glass house…
Glass House is one of the largest cannabis companies in California and it is part-owned by a former police officer. They have been accused, if not informally, of a laundry list of unscrupulous and predatory business tactics that I won’t repeat because they have much better lawyers than I. Suffice it to say they’re big sharks in a big pond and they’re playing for keeps so they naturally attract a lot of negative attention from the heads. They recently went on the First Smoke of the Day podcast, which I’ve long appreciated for their ability to field the right guests. When a clip of the Glass House interview was released, everyone who has ever consumed cannabis in their life took time out of their day to log onto Instagram and sing the siren song of the second rate: “Why are you giving them a platform?”
First of all, the deplatforming conversation is for the sake of preventing hateful and harmful ideologies from spreading, like refusing to air a KKK rally on TV. I’m not the one to decide what’s harmful enough to make the list but I am pretty thoroughly certain “weed-growing former police officer” doesn’t qualify. Second of all: the hosts of First Smoke of the Day aren’t 60 fucking Minutes which is why one of them calls himself “PackGods.” I’m not throwing punches here either, just a couple of light jabs to make myself laugh. I love the podcast, I just don’t know why anyone expected them to grill the owners of Glass House any harder than they did. I watched the entire interview and they asked everything I would have wanted them to. They could have followed up a bit harder, sure, but that’s not a sin. The interview was very calculated on both sides. Glass House knew exactly what they were there to do and they played their hand well.
Regardless, the interview was a net positive. I don’t know if anyone realizes but that ex-cop is the one helping to write the laws in Washington, not us. He’s the one with the seat at the big boy table once the feds loosen things up. Ex-cop or not, that man dropped a fair amount of free game on that podcast for all of us to take note of and use but rather than praise the noble bridge-building efforts of both parties, we just kept throwing more stones. We can laugh and dance and sing but the ex-cop is beating us at our own damn game. We need to swallow that wretched pill and start supporting each other before it’s too late. We need to learn from companies like Glass House so we can rig the game in our favor and get the world high with the best medicine we can make while feeding our families at the same time.
If that means we have to grow 10 rooms of LCG so we can have one room to experiment, so be it, make that shit smack. If we have to go door to door, state to state explaining to people why they should care about the quality of their cannabis and where it comes from, that’s what we have to do, so let’s do it with a smile. We need to learn real-world business tactics, develop new and improved cultivation methods, proprietary genetics, and rock solid intellectual property. We need to keep breaking even every year for the sake of standing in the way just a bit longer, hand in hand, joints lit.
The Thin Green Line is weaker and more divided than ever before but there is hope for us yet. I attended Jimi Devine’s Transbay Qualifier in Sacramento a couple weeks ago and I had the privilege of shaking hands and smoking cannons with some very special people, people who truly care about the plant and our collective future. For an industry of people who spend all day making memes about each other, we are sweethearts to each other in person. Most everyone I met was just stoked to show off what they’d been working on and connect with all the other weed nerds. We need to bring that same enthusiasm to everything we do, online and in real life. We need to stop gatekeeping everything and spread love to everyone who wants to learn how to smoke. We need to protect our legacy while preparing for the future and we need to fortify our connections to one another while sharing information on how to combat the thieves and the snakes and the con men actively trying to steal from us. We just need to evolve, to preserve our way of life.
I believe there is still time. We have not yet hit the iceberg. The wave has not yet broken. Hold fast to one another, the hurricane approaches once more.