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Views From the Farm at the End of 2018

A Cannabis Farmer’s Look at 2018
PHOTOS by Nikki Lastreto

Joint Opinions

Views From the Farm at the End of 2018

Looking back on the past year in cannabis and setting intentions for the next one.

Who would have thought a year ago, while we celebrated the new era of legal cannabis all across our state of California, that we’d be where we are now? Everyone hears stories about the wild investing that has transpired during 2018, with huge sums of money being thrown around casually in conversation — and sometimes even in reality. We read about giant grow operations going up on agricultural land in the Central Valley and the expansion of corporate and celebrity branding. On many levels, the stigma which has cursed cannabis and cannabis users for decades is actually falling away, and that is encouraging.

The variety of people getting high has clearly expanded. The majority of the regular stoners who have scored weed for years are still doing it the same way, buying it from “the guy down the street” and saving on taxes. Although as a result, many permitted stores are struggling under the weight of permits, taxes and competition from the “traditional market.”I get reports from budtenders at various stores that the more common shopper post Jan. 1. 2018 is someone newer to the world of cannabis who requires extra guidance and shops more cautiously. In retrospect it seems obvious, but we didn’t expect that a year ago. However, it still means more people are getting high, so that’s a good thing.

There’s a high-end cannabis conference every week, and most of them rival any mainstream convention with elaborate displays, panels, keynote speakers and lots of suits and ties. Headlines shouting: Canada…Going Public… and Invest Now… often accompany cannabis stories these days. One would think that everyone is getting rich from every imaginable angle, as if cannabis were the wish-fulfilling plant. But perhaps the real wishes that cannabis can grant have no monetary value. The richness is within, the richness of expanded consciousness and peace of mind: These are some of the most generous gifts from our green girlfriend.

Luckily, as farmers who work directly with this magical plant, we recognize these gifts and feel grateful. But we also know we will always be a far shot from the lumber barons of the last century. We all see ourselves as cannabis queens and kings, in our hearts we all are the nobility of the Emerald Triangle and proud of our past, present and future. Yet the sad truth for us and for all small farmers across the USA these days is we struggle to survive. Farming is something you must have a real passion and love for to be able to withstand the hardships involved. Same goes for cannabis as for grapes, or tomatoes or whatever you are growing. It’s an art, a talent which can be taught but is better ingrained from birth. Like painting or making music, a farmer channels the Creator’s hands to produce sustenance. You have to love it to do it well.

From up here on the top of a mountain in Mendocino County, the world looks almost perfect. We are blessed with some of the cleanest air and water on the planet. The sky is clear, the soil is fecund, the animals are happy and the farmers live in peace.

Well honestly, it’s not as peaceful as it was before legalization. Being a farmer now also involves being a businessperson. The most difficult part of 2018 has been to watch many families do the numbers and simply say “No way”. They decided to close their farms and move away or only do a small personal garden for now. For some of them retirement is appropriate, as they are pioneer growers who have been doing it for decades. But for their grandchildren still in the business, it is like being tossed out into the cold world once they realize the way of life they grew up in is no longer viable.

For the city person who goes to the store for an eighth of cannabis flowers, chances are they don’t think about the person who grew it, designed the packaging and did the sale. I admit I rarely think that way when shopping at the supermarket — like, who baked this particular loaf of sourdough? Did they have to get up at 3 a.m. to get to the bakery? How did they market it? So for the majority of cannabis users, the actual farmers are not even a concept.

Now, from the farmers’ point of view it all starts with the flowers. There is no product, no packaging, no design, no vape pens, no edibles or topicals, no sales without the flowers. I can’t speak for all farmers, but many of us do think about you, the eventual consumer, who will enjoy the benefits of the love, wisdom and labor that goes into cannabis farming. It is a symbiotic relationship between nature, plant, grower and consumer. It’s our job to grow the cleanest and finest cannabis that we can.

It is important to spread the word about the benefits of clean, organically sungrown cannabis. We observe it changing people’s lives every day. The difference between smoking something grown inside under lights as opposed to outdoors in the full sun for eight months is huge. It’s sort of like the difference between working out in a county park among the trees or working out in a casino in Vegas. You can still get the exercise but won’t really feel good from it. Sungrown cannabis is how it was intended to be grown. As Swami asks, “Would you want to drink indoor wine?!”

Onwards to 2019. Is federal legalization in the works sooner than we think? Maybe we need to get some cannabis into the East Wing of the White House to straighten things out! That I don’t expect … But along with climate change and political meltdowns, anything could happen. Don’t worry. My advice is exactly what you’d expect: Smoke some sungrown cannabis and accept the relativity of it all.

As we look forward to 2019, these are my prayers to the California government:

Please lower taxes so clean cannabis is accessible to everyone.

Finalize regulations that make sense.

Reinstate an ability to gift cannabis to those in need.

Respect and encourage the small farmers rather than discourage them.

TELL US, what do you want to see from the world of cannabis farming in 2019?

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