State of the Shrubs 2022

2022 State of the Shrub

This year has been the “soon” year. Chuck Schumer has for years now said that federal cannabis legislation will come “soon”, and he really stepped up using that word this year. It seemed like every other day, Schumer was on his pulpit saying “soon”. But, sooner than later, the community understood that “soon” may as well be “Never” because the senate has still yet to put a vote on any legalization legislation. The can continues to get kicked down the road with promises that are never met year after year.  

This is what I think every time I hear “Soon”

At the same time the pollsters are publishing polls that indicate increasing support for legalization continues.  “Among key findings, the poll revealed high support for legalization across the political spectrum. When people identifying as Democrats (33.4%), Republicans (25.4%), independents (24.0%), “no political affiliation” (12.5%) and other (4.8%) were asked if they were more likely to support pro-legalization candidates, 61% said they were.”[i] Yet, the people who hold the power in the Republican Party, absolutely refuse to play nice. And the democrats clearly have no idea how to play dirty. So, it has been many years of promises from one side and a brick wall from the other.

That does not mean, however, that cannabis did not progress federally. In fact, the explosion of states writing their own laws led to various entities challenging the Dormant Commerce Clause in court. Large multi-state operators (MSOs) recently won access to the state medical cannabis industry in court in Maine.[ii] States like New Jersey and Oregon are gearing up for interstate sales, considering the Dormant Commerce Clause is a successful cudgel in the courts (or congress legalizes-yeah right).

Then, there is the big daddy lawsuit put forth by a group of MSOs that addresses the 280e issue. 280e is a tax provision that forbids businesses engaged in illegal federal activity from taking normal tax deductions. The MSOs are lobbying congress to amend this so that they are eligible for the deductions. They are also preparing a lawsuit to challenge 280e in court.[iii]

The Biden Administration finally got around to making concrete moves in the cannasphere this year. He signed a bill into law that made it easier for universities to research the medical attributes of cannabis.[iv]He also put out a press release announcing three things: that he would be pardoning “all prior federal offenses of simple possession of marijuana”, he is “urging all governors to do the same”, and he is “asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.”[v]  

The pardons aren’t really that big of a deal, because he only pardoned 6500 people. The problem with this is that most cannabis arrests occur at the state level. But, as we will see later, he also asked governors to pardon their cannabis-tagged citizens. The most interesting thing from The President’s press release is that he is reviewing the possibility to re- or deschedule cannabis from the Schedule 1 classification. 

Some governors did step up to the call for pardons, however. In particular, Oregon Governor Kate Brown pardoned 45,000 people. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker was early to the pardon game, having pardoned more than 500,000 people in his state. Some states included expungement of cannabis records as part of their legalization initiatives and have also pardoned their eligible citizens. Massachusetts and Rhode Island are a couple of examples of this.

The states have continued to be actively writing their own laws in legislature.  Like Minnesota, in particular. The democrats took the senate last November, and it is clear that legalization is a major goal for the incoming administration. It is sad that we are praising the loss of a Republican Senate to open access to business in Minnesota, but the signals that legalization is on the horizon are clear. This will be a wedge issue, unfortunately. The stalwart obstructionism of the anti-business republican party will continue to be effective until the community can figure out how to break through the great big red wall in middle America. 

That being said, there are clear breaches of the Red Wall. Oklahoma voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2018. Today it has one of the most robust medical cannabis systems in the country. They have 374,000 registered patients, or roughly 10% of the state population. They also have 2600 dispensaries, which is insane for a small state like Oklahoma[vi]. Additionally, Governor Kevin Stitt approved a March vote for their legalization initiative that missed the November ballot because the signatures weren’t counted in time.

In fact, four of the five November state initiatives that made the ballot this year were all red states: Missouri, North- and South Dakota, and Arkansas.  The fifth was Maryland. The Dakotas and Arkansas voted “no”, but Missouri and Maryland said “yes”.  Missouri is moving so fast that it is now legal recreationally there, and they expect to have recreational dispensaries open by February 2023. Maryland will legalize by July 2023. 

There were four other states that failed to get an initiative to the ballot box; Florida, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Ohio legislators played games with their electorate, but the campaign was too fast for them. While the state government was successful in keeping the initiative off of the November ballot, the voters of Ohio won in court and will get their chance to vote in November of 2023.[vii]

Another interesting development that happened this year was in Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky. Their Democratic governor signed an executive order allowing eligible citizens to access medical cannabis in other states and bring it home.[viii] They will also begin to regulate Delta 8 THC which is an interesting development.[ix] Some states already have laws regulating, restricting, or outright banning Delta 8 THC.[x]

The Big Red Wall is beginning to show some weakness as we move into 2023. Missouri will begin selling recreational cannabis by February. Ohio and Oklahoma will be voting on Recreational cannabis next year. New Hampshire has announced bipartisan legislation that will need to get through a Republican senate there[xi]. And Kansas is preparing to write legislation to allow medical cannabis for their residents.[xii]

So, here we are at the end of 2022. 21 legal recreational/medical and 38 medical-only states (as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and US Virgin Islands). As 2022 cedes to 2023, the table is set for another year of incremental gains both politically and legally. The Dormant Commerce Clause will be doing a lot of flexing as businesses desperately look for new markets to get into. Then there is the possibility of re-or descheduling by the current administration. And of course, there is always the small chance that the republican party will come around and introduce legislation in Congress. A boy can dream.

[i] Hasse, Javier. Apr 18, 2022. “A Decade Into Legal Cannabis, Americans See Legalization As A Net Positive For Economy And Society”

[ii]Perkins, Cole and Hannah Barker Mullin.  “First Circuit Court Strikes Down Maine Residency Requirement Under Dormant Commerce Clause” August 22, 2022

[iii] The US Federal Government Could be Sued over the Barriers Cannabis Companies Face. May 30, 2022.

[iv] Wadman, Meredith. New US Law Promises light Marijuana Research. Dec 2, 2022.

[v] Statement from President Biden on Marijuana Reform. Oct, 6, 2022

[vi] Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority. Dec 7th 2022.

[vii] Associtated Press, May 2,2022. “Ohio Legal Pot Backers Sue Over Disputed Petition Deadline”

[viii] Kentuky GOevernors Office November 15, 2022.

[ix] Kentucky Governors office. November 15,2022. Executive order.




The Presidents pardon is nice, But….

(accidently published on a different blog site last week)

President Biden made an announcement last week that rocked the cannabis legalization community. He announced that he would pardon all citizens and permanent residents convicted of simple cannabis possession.[i] But the pardon is hardly worth the fanfare that it has been receiving and is more of a political stunt than any substantial act that will actually end cannabis prohibition.

The total number of federal cannabis- only convictions from 1992-2021 is 6577.[ii] That is 227 convictions per year. Of course, that is 227 too many each year. It is also a drop in the bucket of the big picture of cannabis interdiction. First of all, the lion’s share of cannabis-related prosecutions are at the state level. And, for various reasons, the accurate number of cannabis convictions is unclear.

One reason is that local law enforcement does not have to submit their arrest data to the FBI crime data aggregators, so the actual arrest numbers are unclear. According to The Marshall Project, almost 40% of law enforcement agencies did not report their arrest data to the FBI for 2021.[iii]

Another reason is that cannabis can be used as a legal cudgel. An individual can be arrested for a firearm and if they have cannabis on them, that will be added to their sentence. Cannabis can also be responsible for recidivism, where a parolee can get their sentence reinstated because of the herb.[iv]

Some will say this is a call to action for governors to issue their own pardons, but this is already old news in many parts of the country. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker pardoned more than 11,000 people in 2019.[v] Other states like Connecticut included these pardons in the laws that they passed legalizing cannabis.[vi]

But not all governors can step up to the call. Some states like Alabama and North Carolina do not give the Governors the power to unilaterally grant pardons. And then there are the active oppressors. These are the states are controlled by people who absolutely refuse to embark in any dialogue that may be perceived as solidarity with their sworn enemy, the Democrats.

These states are places like South Dakota, where their governor successfully killed a citizen-led initiative in 2021.[vii] And my wonderful state of Nebraska did the same thing in 2020. There is no amount of logic that will get through to these states. Which is tragic, because I could personally benefit from these Christian nationalists showing empathy for their citizens. My personal cannabis politics grated against them back in the 90’s. In fact, from 2001-2003 I got ticketed 6 times for cannabis. It is clear that I would be a felon and would have spent a fair amount of time in prison if I would have failed to take refuge in California and Colorado these last 20 years. They were hunting me.

Fortunately, though, I did spend most of my adult life in a safe place, and was able to continue to grow and enjoy my life without the massive albatross of cannabis prohibition on my neck. Indeed, the weight of the albatross has been returned and the hopelessness of oppression and exclusion very much weighs on me. But the only way to get this albatross off of my neck is to be here and open the closed hearts and minds of Christo nationalism. They need to learn that their fear of cannabis is misguided, irrational, and hysterical.  It won’t be done if folks like me run away to greener states. It will only be accomplished by actually interacting with them away from Facebook and in person.








That Legal Weed is Nice, but Home is too

Back to Danktown. Good ol Danktown. I have spoken fondly of the place when I was away, and it feels good to get smacked in the face with the humidity and attacked by mosquitoes and ticks and flies and whatnot. I moved back for many reasons, but a large one was that I wanted to buy a property. My time in San Diego and especially Denver led to diminishing returns on renting. It is nice just go to the ganja shop as a daily chore. It is much better than a two week search for weed, or other choices. It’s really nice to know that I don’t have Johnny Law as someone to fear and avoid. I particularly had great relationships with the San Diego police. Heck, I hosted a former Los Angeles Sherriff to a Regulate Marijuana Like Wine meeting in 2012. But that is more of a luxury and a perk of living where you get to live. So, it got me thinking about a few things. Is legal cannabis bougie?

For me to find this out, I looked at the most expensive states to live in in 2022[i]. Nine of the top ten are fully legal states (1-HI, 2- NY, 3-CA, 4-MA, 5-OR, 6-AK, 8-CT, 9-RI, 10-VT). The seventh most expensive state to live in is Maryland, which falls at #7 and has medical. Nine of the next ten have at least medical and 6 have recreational. The Med only states are: 14-NH, 15-DE, and PA-19. The 6 fully recreational states are: 11-NJ, 12-ME, 13- WA, 16-NV, 17-CO, 18-AZ, 19-PA. The one state that does not have either Recreational or medical cannabis is possibly the most fascist state, ID, at 20.[ii]

Oddly enough, many of the Recreational states- including the 3 medical-only states- have laws that include conditional release. On the other hand, good ol Idaho has laws for mandatory minimums and drugged driving laws.[iii]

Next, I looked at median home values by state. The median was Arizona at $225,500. The Ten most Expensive are: 1-HI $615,300, 2-CA $505,000, 3-MA $381,600, 4-CO, 5-WA, 6-NJ, 7-MD, 8-NY, 9-OR, 10 UT. Eight of the ten are Recreational states. The two that aren’t, Maryland and Utah, are both medical.[iv]

The ten cheapest are: 1- MS-$119,000, 2-WV $119,600 3-AR $127,800, 4- OK, 5- KY, 6- IN, 7- AL, 8- OH, 9- IA, and 10-KS. Six of the ten have medical laws. The remaining 4 have CBD laws, which is the very least that can be done since CBD is federally legal[v]. Most of them are in the south. Indeed, all of the medical states are in the south, while the Midwest and mid-east prefer the most restrictive allowances with CBD-only laws in Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, and Kentucky.[vi]

If we are to use this as supply and demand, then it is clear that places where Americans want to live are also the most expensive places to live. And conversely, the least desirable places are the cheapest. Although, the cracks are forming in the south. What really baffles me is the Midwest. Places like Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, specifically.

I am baffled because back in the 90’s I would have put the (now extinct) Nebraska landrace, Willies One Hit Wonder Buds, up against any strain in the world. It was simply the best. It is now extinct because nobody grows it here anymore. At least I don’t know them. I really hope someone still does grow it here. Nebraska grows really good weed.

Cannabis also grows wild here. It is literally a weed. You can’t hike 100 yards on a trail without finding it. You cant drive 100 yards down a gravel road and not find them taking up quarters in ditches and gullies, proudly blowing in the Nebraska wind. The plant that helped win World War 2 grew here. It is our most patriotic plant. Yet, in the land of the “patriot”, it is pulled up and thrown away. Disregarded like everyone else who does not fit into their slim world view. It is criminalized and forced to hide in the shadows. Yet, it still thrives; it grows everywhere here. Yet, we would rather eradicate it than capitalize on it. Truly Baffling.







Home again.

It has been almost 20 years since I lived in Omaha, and it is with mixed feelings that I have returned. The last time I lived here, George Bush Jr. was president and the war in Afghanistan was new, West Omaha was 156th St, and cannabis was illegal throughout the country.

Back then, we had such good weed that I would have put it up against anywhere in the world. The local strain was Willies One Hit Wonder Buds. It was truly dank. Dank enough for me to affectionately rename the city Danktown. It was light and dark green, coated with crystals and red hairs, and stuck to your top finger when it was squeezed. It was fresh. It was not grown in a massive warehouse, but in a dank basement in small batches. It was truly the definition of “buy Local”.

Today it is dead. It has been replaced by the shitty Colorado weed and the Frankenstein creation delta 8 THC[i] that became legalized under the Farm Act a few years ago. I am not a fan of artificial anything, so the rise of these new cannabis spots is a bit alarming to me.  But, I have learned a lot in my activist days in legal states and I can only hope to bring the progress here to Nebraska.

I know it will be hard, however. It is a world that pays kids to tear up highly coveted (at least in some states) feral “hemp for Victory” in their fields. The state Attorney General successfully sued and removed a medical marijuana initiative from the ballot in 2020[ii]. The current governor even went so far as saying that legal cannabis will “kill your kids”[iii] despite the lack of evidence in the very articles he quoted as sources. What is scary is that he is going to be replaced in the next primary by a much more authoritarian, right wing T***p supporting politician in the next election.

Found by the road outside Omaha. Another one was found by a local bank.

The City vs. Country divide has been a thing here in Nebraska for as long as I have been alive. And most certainly longer. In a country that has only four states that continue to keep cannabis fully illegal, Nebraska sits adjacent to two of them. It seems inevitable that Nebraska voters will slide toward fearmongering and the zero-sum game over economic development and social equity (this was written before the big Roe v Wade vote). 3% of the population of the United states are full on endorsing cannabis prohibition. And Nebraska, for some odd reason, wants to support this kind of backwards thinking.

But, this is my home too. I had a wonderful advantage in having so many supporters and allies in California and Colorado. The real problem is that cannabis use seems to be a Democratic issue, which makes it evil. It doesn’t matter that Omaha and Lincoln are 40% of the population.  And I have to do all I can to provide a safe place for myself and people like me. People who enjoy activities other than drinking. People who like to explore ideas and cultures and create happy, healthy, and wholesome communities. I know they are here, and I will find them because the more of us there are, the better our chances to get this issue over the final hurdle.




Social Equity won State Legilatures in 2021.

Social Equity was the 2021 buzzword now that the Multi-state operators (MSOs) have solid foundations in legal states. But what is Social Equity? For the sake of brevity, I will use the definition that The National League of Cities adopted in 2003: “Creating equitable and inclusive communities with opportunity for all can lead to a level playing field where everyone has a chance to succeed. . .Divisions by race, class and geography have decreased access to much-needed jobs, adequate health care, affordable housing, and quality education. . .”[1]

 California brought the idea to cannabis markets way back in 2017[2], while the recreational legal pathfinder Colorado just got around to creating their own social equity laws last summer[3]. Illinois, Connecticut, and New York all included social equity when their legislatures wrote their recreational cannabis laws. Even Nebraska got an expungement law into the halls of their unicameral (Of course, it experienced death by floundering).  The New York Chief of Police, on the other hand, issued a memo telling the city’s police force to allow people 21 and up to legally “smoke marihuana almost anywhere that cigarette smoking is allowed…As a result, smoking marihuana in any of these locations is not a basis for an approach, stop, summons, arrest, or search[4]

Even Congress is throwing bills at cannabis legalization. The first Republican-led bill was introduced by Nancy Mace (R-South Carolina) earlier this year. It is the first legalization bill that was brought forward by a Republican. It also had an expungement feature to it[5]. Senator Corey Booker also introduced the Cannabis Opportunity and Administration Act[6] (CAOA) which included a community reinvestment program. This program would have provided aid for people to expunge records, among other things. It succumbed to a competing bill, the SAFE banking act, which the House has passed five times in the last 8 years. It is currently in the Senate, where it will undoubtedly languish on Senator McConnell’s desk without a second thought. A big problem with it is that the SAFE Banking Act only addresses banking and not much else that is necessary to create a national cannabis industry[7]. That, and of course, the Senate.

Despite the obvious hurdles in Congress, Senators Booker and Warren are pushing the Justice Department to deschedule cannabis. They wrote a letter to Attorney General Garland urging him to “initiate the process to decriminalize cannabis. Doing so would be an important first step in the broader tasks of remedying the harmful racial impact of our nation’s enforcement of cannabis laws and ensuring that states can effectively regulate the growing cannabis industry, including by assisting small business owners and those most harmed by our historical enforcement of cannabis laws,”[8]

So, as the country stands divided on cannabis (just like everything else), the financial and social issues of cannabis are coming into focus. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, recreational cannabis sales have reached $8 billion in tax revenue for the states that have legalized it[9]. Unemployment has gone down in these states as well. In fact, since 2019, cannabis dispensaries in Colorado outnumber Starbucks and McDonalds combined.[10]

A recent IZA Report on Labor Statistics noted that there is a “4.5% increase in the number of employees” and also that “the opening of recreational cannabis dispensaries is associated with a decrease in the demand of unemployed people…[11]”. The authors were also quick to note that,

because there is such a huge demand to work in the cannabis industry, the labor side is negatively affected.

There is no need to pay their employees, let alone treat them with respect, so wages are low. As the MSOs grow in market share, there is no reason to be competitive in employee retention. Therefore employers can keep wages low and profits are siphoned to the class that needs the money the least. Which is why social equity programs are so important to include with recreational laws. It is expensive to start a cannabis business in this environment. The barriers to entry are quite substantial when the startup fees can surpass $1 million[12]. The competition is stiff, however. Arizona just announced that they received more than 1,500 applications for 26 spots in their social equity program[13]. Less than 2% of those who applied will win the coveted social equity permit. Clearly there is a long way to go to rectify the problems of the drug war, but people are finally doing it.










[10] Colorado Department of Revenue, Office of Research and Analysis. (2019): Marijuana sales report.

[11] Chakraborty, Avinandan, Doremus, Jacqueline and Stith, Sarah. “The effects of recreational cannabis access on labor markets: evidence from Colorado” IZA Journal of Labor Economics, vol.10, no.1, 2021, pp.-.



Cannabis went Conservative in 2020

Every election year continues to show that a deeply divided America is growing more divided. Yet, one thing that we can all agree on is that the ideology of the war on drugs is unpopular. Every state that ran a cannabis initiative won. 5 states had cannabis referendums while South Dakota went wild and ran both a legal and medical initiative. They won. Arizona, Montana, and new jersey all won legalization, while Mississippi joined a growing list of Southern states to vote for medical access to cannabis. Oregon took the war on drugs a step further when their voters legalized all drugs this November.[1] Jail time is now reduced to either a fine or a class.

Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all join the fraternity of Legal States as the count is now at 15. Notably, South Dakota has been working hard to get legal cannabis access to their state for a long time. They got medical initiatives on the ballot in 2006 and 2010 that both lost. The Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe legalized cannabis in 2015, but the federal government made them burn their plants. They have recently been greenlighted to grow hemp, however.[2] Conservative South Dakota has been a busy place. This time around, they legalized both medical and recreational access. Congratulations for finally crossing the threshold.

New Jersey should also be noted, because so much of it borders New York City, Philadelphia, and Delaware. New York legalized medical cannabis in 2014, but their medical marijuana program is riddled with bureaucratic problems. Limited locations, long lines, vastly overpriced products, and a lack of available flower all make the New York medical cannabis market undesirable. The much simpler legal market popping up across the river in New Jersey will not only create a boom for those Jersey communities, but it will inspire New York, if not much of the Northeast, to finally do what their citizens want and use their legislatures to legalize recreational cannabis in 2021.[3]

Medical cannabis also won in both states that qualified ballots: South Dakota and Mississippi. Bringing the total medical state count to 40. Another southern state is involved in medical cannabis, and it won by a 2/3 majority. They are the sixth state to legalize medical cannabis in the south.

The cannabis referendums this year all took place in states that voted Republican in the 2016 election. Three of the four voted for the Republican president in 2020.  It is clear that the state of cannabis is strong in the United States. Six initiatives put up and six initiatives won. Blue state, red state, north, south, east and west. Every quadrant said yes. If there is anything, anything at all that a Democratic President and a Republican Senate can agree on, it is access to legal cannabis markets.




Looking for Unicorns in a Sea of Weeds.

Cannabis plants are called “weeds” for a good reason: they grow because they can and they do that very well. But in the world of “dank”, simply grown herbs are not enough. There has to be a smell, a taste, a touch, and an all-around stoniness to it. As the market leaders increasingly become DEA agents and former AT&T executives at the expense of generations-old hippie wisdom, I started to wonder if the buds of my youth are just as mediocre as they are today and if I am having a case of “in my day“ (1) syndrome. For that, and a few other reasons, I decided to grow my own cannabis this season.

This was my second attempt at growing. My first time was decades ago under a high-pressure sodium light in a basement while in college. This time, it grew outdoors. I did it because weed should be free- at least to me.  There was a time when I would have wholeheartedly believed that it should be free to you too. But I have learned that the tool that makes capitalism grow is the middle man. The concept of opportunity cost gives the middle man the power to do all of the work for us. This is the age of corporate weed; the many generations of knowledge of the ganja farmer is now lost to the middle man. Now that the good growers are gone, if not stifled, I was eager to embark on my own and see if dank really was just a legend.

There was an organic, small business movement that really resonated with me in the 90’s in my hometown of Omaha (Danktown). My dumbass thought I was championing it by buying weed grown in the basements of my friends. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Out in the world, “small business” and “buy local” were buzzwords floating around back then. Cannabis was something that I had a lot of control over, as opposed to Kroger, who knows I will always be back for milk tomorrow. I don’t know any cows. I can’t change the major food market, but I can keep the ganja local- at least my ganja.

The main problem with corporate humans is that their food is money. We have to sustain their ever-growing appetites at the expense of a quality product. They learn cheats and tricks (like making your food need poison in order to grow) that meet the demands of the boardroom at the expense of the farmer. This pushed the experienced, quality growers out of the market and replaced them with the “yes men” that a good, healthy corporation needs in order to survive.

There will eventually be room for the small grower to make a living. Right now, however, the market is entirely too unstable as record supply meets daily falling prices.(2) Regulatory capture is also an incredible burden to overcome. This is the time for corporate beasts to find the real price floor of a retail cannabis market and where they fight it out on sales floors and on spreadsheets while I sit on the sidelines and… wait.

Oversupply chart
Oregon Liquor Control Commission: As of January 1, 2019, the recreational market has an estimated 6.5 years’ worth of theoretical supply on hand. Even under assumptions of growth in demand caused by more Oregonians consuming more marijuana supply will almost certainly continue to exceed demand at current levels of production” (3,4)

It took me quite a few years to demystify cannabis in my brain. Dank buds were like unicorns for me. Dank was incredibly rare and the stuff of legends. Everybody can plant some seeds and water them. That doesn’t get you dank. You can fix nitrogen-lock and give it the nutrients it needs, but still will not necessarily give you dank. Pest management can help, but also will not necessarily get you the unicorn you are looking for.

My little unicorns came into the world battle scarred. We had quite a bit of turbulent weather here in Colorado this year. The spring came in with hail and a ton of rain. One night, the hail attacked at three in the morning. The plants had just sprouted and were barely 4” tall. Most of the leaves were shorn off and their growth spurt never came. One plant even had its stem broken all the way down the middle. Yet they still grew. They lost their Alien Tahoe O.G. name that night and became Hail Damage Kush in honor of that storm.

Growers are like mad scientists. They have particular personalities and it shows in the herbs that they grow. Some are freewheeling and happy, inviting their family in to help with the grow and it is like a party every time you visit. Others are regimented and quiet, refusing to allow anyone into their sanctuary. The one thing that they all do is pay attention to the plants and give them what they need when they need it most. Or don’t because the plant is satisfied.

I could have done better to react to the hail damaged sprouts, like adding aspirin to their water. But I didn’t listen to my advisor, and the struggled tp recover. Sure, they were ravaged by hail. But they kept growing. Every day. So, I kept watering. As the days dragged on, I established routines that kept me on task. It didn’t matter how tired I was after work, I had to feed the plants. They ate, then I ate. This is a big deal for a dude who ate almost every meal of his 20s and 30s at a mom-and-pop restaurant. Sometimes, I would even bring a book with me as I doted over them on nice summer days. I would read a couple of pages before noticing some new growth that needed to be pruned.

I fought daily with spider mites that never got bad and walked lightly around the yellow jackets and wasps that hunted them. I learned about the signs of nitrogen-lock and the constant war within the pH of the water that these plants consume. It was all stuff that this city boy has heard about for decades, but now has context.

The plants were constantly pruned and the stems were scrogged as they grew. Most scrogging is done with plastic. But I didn’t use the plastic screens for a variety of reasons; I simply don’t want to be throwing away any plastic trash at the end of the season. Instead, I used bamboo sticks and clips to train the main stem to grow horizontally along the ground instead of shooting to the sky. This way, the bottom stems, which usually have the lowest flower production will be the ones shooting to the sky.

Then autumn came and the flowers started coming in. They started to bulk up. There was no clear terminal bud on the plants and it started to look like a strand of cattails growing in my backyard. The buds bulked and I watched and constantly wondered if all this effort was for just some schwag.

It wasn’t until I cut and started the curing process that I saw some potential for a good product. The first plant to come out of the curing room was the smallest and purplest. Lil’ Purp. It did not yield much at all. But what it did produce was a good start. The buds were solid and chunky. They quelled my biggest concern: buds full of sugar leaves and underdeveloped fruit: they always result in popcorn buds and trimming-induced crossed-eyes. This is the worst possible kind of cannabis to trim and fortunately it did not happen to me.

Since Lil’ Purp was the first to come down, so it was also the first to come out of cure. It had good flavor to it. It smelled and tasted good and is a behind the eye kind of high. Lil’ Purp is a classic one-hitter quitter that it sticks around for about an hour. It is clean and does not burn the throat, which means that it was flushed correctly.

Plants two and three came out of cure next. And they both turned out fantastically. These were the biggest, heathiest, and most likely to succeed. If these two worked out well, then 1) my endless search for a grower is over and 2) no more dispensary weed! The samples that I gave out came back quite positive. In fact, a horticulturist got jealous and challenged me to a grow-off. He gave me some seeds to plant and we will soon start the challenge.

The meat of my harvest gave me with a quarter pound of solid, dense, and thick buds. They are the kind that push back when squeezed. I was even rewarded with a few seeds. So much else is right with these buds that a dozen or so seeds is a good thing. They are the future.

Plant four was also quite thick. She came in at a healthy quarter pound too; with lots of healthy, fat colas. It also burned smooth, tasted good, and yielded expected results. And its hairs turned just days before an October snowstorm hit. Plant five, however, was a bit stubborn.

Plant five remained in its vegetative stage the longest. She grew the tallest and fully matured last. The crazy weather this year had me hauling me plants indoors a few times over the summer: I learned my lesson in the spring. The last October snow was its messenger of death. plant five wasn’t getting saved this time. Nope, snow was coming and if that is what it takes to make those stigmas turn, then so be it. She was going to get dumped on. Season is over. Mother Nature demands it.

baby the plants

It snowed all night. As I prepared my coffee and looked out the window the next morning, I could only laugh because she looked like she looked like a cat forced into a tub of water. She looked mad. Then, when I came home from work, her heavy buds were weighted down and she looked incredibly despondent. I kinda felt bad. But the stigmas changed, and it was harvest time. And that was the goal.

Not surprisingly, she was the biggest haul, at five ounces. Half of plant 5 went straight to the freezer for live resin, while the other half went to cure. I had no idea what to expect of snowed on, hail-damaged ganja. It turns out that I was just too paranoid, because the weed turned out just fine. Well, maybe a little harsh, but not nearly as bad as it could have been in my mind.

This entire year was an experiment that was a success.  Listening to herbs is like listening to people; you just have to pay attention. Growing weed outdoors is a daily micro-step on a nine-month path. If this is done, then growing good weed is easy. Most importantly, I learned that I can grow my own food alongside this fine cannabis just as easily. If I can grow weed that is better than the shops here are pushing, then I can certainly grow a tomato that tastes better than Kroger sells me.



2018 was the Year that Bipartisanship came to Cannabis Reform.


Ending cannabis prohibition requires attacking the flawed logic of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Fortunately, the foundations of cannabis reform are built on solid legs. They are Medical cannabis, Industrial hemp, and Recreational marijuana. The CSA simply refused any possibility of medical purposes. The marihuana Act of 1937 split hemp into the preferred drug of the jazz degenerate and the hempy weed that grows by the stream. As long as they are separate, they are marginalized and weak. It was not until the scapegoat of the cannabis family, recreational marijuana, got its chance at relevance when it was legalized in 2012. The following years validated the will of the voters as it spread across the USA. In 2018 industrial hemp and medical cannabis became the benefactors.


Recreational cannabis won big this year. Really big. Elected officials are proactively establishing regulations from the top down. The year started out in Vermont, where Republican Governor Phil Scott grudgingly signed a cannabis legalization bill into law.[i]This year, Vermont became the first state to enact cannabis legislation through their legislature and the ninth state to legalize recreational cannabis. Both major choices for Governor of Vermont this year supported cannabis: Phil Scott signed the aforementioned cannabis bill into law[ii]and his challenger, Christine Hallquist, was a vocal supporter of legal cannabis.[iii]11 other successful gubernatorial campaigns remarked positively about cannabis legalization.[1][iv]


State ballot questions ranged from non-binding advisory questions in Wisconsin[v]to full legalization in Michigan[vi]. The Midwest also got medical access in Missouri.[vii]Utah joined the list of growing states to approve legal access to medical cannabis.[viii]The only cannabis loser this year was in North Dakota, who shot the moon with a legalization question that failed on Election Day there.[ix]They keep on trying though, so don’t expect them to go home quietly. Oh, and the Canadian Senate voted in June to legalize recreational cannabis throughout the country.[x]The law came in to effect in October.


There were also some local wins as well. A dispensary owner won a seat on the South Lake Tahoe City Council.[xi]  The owner of a local ganja shop recently went from embattled business owner to City Council member in two years. This is another indication of how quickly things are turning around in 2018.


Another California community, Los Angeles, is beginning a social equity program. Social equity programs started in Oakland a few years ago, where a couple of young black ladies started a non-profit called The Hood Incubator.[xii]The founders of The Hood Incubator were keenly aware that “As recently as 2015, Oakland officers arrested black residents nearly 20 times more often than white residents for cannabis-related crimes.” Yet, “black people had owned or founded less than 5 percent of cannabis businesses nationwide and, across all industries, black-founded startups had received just 1 percent of venture capital funding.”[xiii]The city of Los Angeles is now the second city to bring this program to their residents[xiv].


This idea of “Social equity” is not one that is traditionally American. Yet, Illinois and Massachusetts are also deciding on their own social equity programs to complement their cannabis laws. The Massachusetts cannabis regulatory body responsible is called The Cannabis Control Commission. They have so far “issued 76 provisional licenses…None of those are to minority-owned businesses”[xv].


Illinois wants to be ahead of the curve as legalization comes to their state. The newly-elected Governor, J.B. Pritzker, was quite vocal about legalizing cannabis in his campaign. He even dedicated a 265-word declaration page on his campaign site: lawmakers have shifted their thinking from ““whether or not cannabis should be legal” to “how it should be legal””[xvi].


Colorado, California, and Delaware have all passed legislation that will expunge cannabis felonies[xvii][xviii][xix]. Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Jersey have legislation written and are waiting for a vote[xx][xxi][xxii].


Even the United States congress has a plan to legalize cannabis. The Congressional Black Causus issued a press release in June that indicated their support for “decriminalizing marijuana and investing in communities that were destroyed by the War on Drugs…We also support expunging the records of those previously convicted of misdemeanors for marijuana offenses.”[xxiii]


Soon after the Democrats took control of the house, Earl Blumenaur, the co-founder of the Cannabis Caucus, wrote a memo that stated the Democrats’ path forward. “The memo he sent to Democratic leadership reads in part, “committees should start marking up bills in their jurisdiction that would responsibly narrow the marijuana policy gap—the gap between federal and state marijuana laws—before the end of the year. These policy issues … should include: Restorative justice measures that address the racial injustices that resulted from the unequal application of federal marijuana laws.””[xxiv]


As the very base that embraces the “tough on crime” approach watches the compassionate side of the country loosen cannabis laws, they are scrambling to establish dominance while maintaining the “moral high ground”. Good, evangelical views intersect with states’ rights at industrial hemp. This intersectionality happened at the 2018 Farm bill, where industrial hemp was removed from the CSA and put it within the purview of the USDA. (CBD was also removed, but the FDA was a bit butt hurt…read on).


This hardy plant indicates the growing bipartisan power that the cannabis plant holds today. Even grumpy old Mitch McConnel could not resist the smell of money that the hemp plant exudes. His 2018 farm bill:


“officially reclassifies hemp for commercial uses after decades of statutes and    legal enforcement conflating hemp and marijuana, the Farm Bill distinguishes between the two by removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. (While the two are closely related, hemp lacks the high concentration of THC that is responsible for the high from smoking marijuana.) This would effectively move regulation and enforcement of the crop from the purview of the Drug Enforcement Agency to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”[xxv]



It is a big deal. Of course, this does not mean that the south would accept recreational cannabis. Mitch McConnell still believes that ““I do not have any plans to endorse the legalization of marijuana,” he said, adding that marijuana and hemp are “two entirely separate plants…It is a different plant. It has an illicit cousin which I choose not to embrace,””[xxvi]


That is okay, though. Dinosaurs like him are on the way out. Pete Sessions will be joining him. He is the drug warrior who single-handedly blocked more than 36 amendments from getting a full floor vote[xxvii]. He lost the mid-term election to a former NFL football player and medical-cannabis advocate, Colin Allred.[xxviii]


Another Southern Dinosaur lost his way when the top lawman in the country got fired over the Thanksgiving holiday. 2018 ended Jeff Sessions’ reign on terror. He is not a Senator nor Attorney General anymore. He has endorsed and inflicted the “tough on crime” approach for decades. As Attorney General, he withdrew the “Cole Memo” that gave Justice Department attorneys a clear idea of what is legal and what is not legal cannabis business activities. He also blocked research into medical cannabis.[xxix]While it is unclear what direction medical cannabis research will take moving forward, it will not be from the embodiment of the obstructionist south, Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions.


The single biggest thing to happen this year, however, has to be the medical relief component of cannabis that the FDA announced in June. Their approval of Epidiolex led to a conflict with the CSA, leaving cannabis in legal limbo.[xxx]The FDA even flexed on the Senate when they had to remind Senator McConnell that there is a list of CBD drugs that are not yet approved by the FDA.[xxxi]


All of this leads to an incredibly successful 2019 for the cannabis industry. The politics this year scream “legalize it”. There were campaigning politicians, on both sides, who saw the political value of supporting a legal cannabis market during their campaign. Cannabis legalization has not been muttered in a presidential debate once in these last 20 years. Not once has this issue been important enough to put on record in a debate, despite the massive relaxation of cannabis laws over the past two decades. It looks like there will be one president in 2020 who said “I legalized”.  Job done.