As we attempt to make our way wisely through the current maze of politics and permits in this emerging world of legal cannabis, I have found that looking for the positives and possibles — creative solutions from outside of the box — is where I often find solutions. We live in the hills of Mendocino County in northern California where we have been facing the potential extinction of the small high-grade cannabis farmer. Our local government is having a difficult time recognizing that cannabis has been the backbone of our economy for a few decades now. Rather than encouraging growth in what could balloon into an economic windfall, the powers that be have imposed a limit of 25 plants per parcel for the last few seasons and are in the process of deciding limits for this coming year.
I think I speak for most farmers up here when I say that we would like the limit raised and preferably measured by square footage as opposed to plant count. It simply is not possible to survive on so few plants and if we want our county to prosper on every level, we need our farmers to earn incomes substantial enough to encourage local spending.
But wait, let’s look at the upside. By severely limiting us Mendonesians, compared to Humboldt, our neighboring county where they are are allowed to have huge grows of up to 1,000 plants per parcel, we have focused on the quality. The outcome is that over the years superior-grade cannabis has consistently come from Mendocino County, as evidenced by the vast majority of winners in the Emerald Cup hailing from this area. Believe me, having been a judge in the cup since it began 13 years ago, I can testify it is a totally blind judging and judges comes from all over northern California. I personally have sampled flowers from every corner of the state and am proud to say I always come back to Mendo for the best.
Everyone is talking about branding their bud, but what about branding our county and our appellations? I say the time has come to stand up and claim what we cultivate, with best practices and organic methods, with heritage seeds and multi-generational farmers who know the cannabis plant like intimate family. Let’s not only save the small cannabis farmer, but actually elevate him/her to the level of the finest vintners of Napa County, who are respected for their skills and finished products. We are the medicine makers of Mendocino and proud of it!
It sounds so easy, so practical, yet it is quite an uphill struggle. Cannabis farmers have been outlaws for decades, hidden in these hills afraid to show their faces, let alone brand their bud. You can imagine the reluctance to come out of hiding and turn a clandestine operation into a limited liability corporation. Meanwhile, big business is chomping at the bit to develop cannabis into big bucks and skeptical farmers don’t trust them. It is a coming together of oil and water and only those with the right attitude to make the blend palatable will succeed.
We hope to find a peaceable solution where we can spread the word that we grow the best cannabis in the world (why be shy about it?) and want to share it with all patients who need it. We want our county to prosper in every way. A positive attitude towards cannabis can transform Mendocino into a canna-tourism destination as well as a farmer-friendly zone. This is such a pivotal point in our history, for cannabis throughout the United States, and a positive attitude seems imperative.
Really, what’s not to be positive about concerning cannabis? When I saw on the Bill Maher show that President Obama considers himself reasonable on cannabis policy while comparing it to tobacco and alcohol and claiming it is “a bad habit” — well that is just wrong and we all know it. (And bravo to Bill for lighting up on camera.) The more people who learn everyday the many healing properties of cannabis, and how they won’t grow two heads or become psychotic from a hit of herb, the easier it is to speak out. But it is up to us now, in the infant stages of legality, to stand up for our sister cannabis at every opportunity. In my case, I am proud to stand up for Mendocino County and her several excellent award-winning appellations (Swami Select is in the Bell Springs/Spy Rock Appellation). Some of you may choose to stand up to your friends or family who simple aren’t sure what cannabis is all about and you have the opportunity to teach them. Or you may want to speak with your doctor next time you see him and ask if he has any suggestions that could include a cannabis cure. Probably he won’t, but having you ask that question plants the seed in his mind.
So that is our duty, not to just plant the cannabis seeds this spring, but also to plant and cultivate the seeds of inspiration. Sometimes us farmers feel isolated out here in the hills and we wonder if anyone out there has a clue where their cannabis comes from. So here’s the deal: we are willing to come out of our mountain hideaways and proudly say we grow the best for you, and we hope that you in return will begin to spread the word in the urban areas of California that organic sungrown cannabis is the best medicine there is — for our bodies, mind, spirit and the rest of the planet too. As Jack Herer said first in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” cannabis can save the world!
Please, register to vote and realize that we can make a difference. Our communal positivity has the power to bring real transformation to our world.