Friday, July 24, 2015

Throw Away People

I once (not long ago) took up a battle against Bank of America, to keep my brother from losing his home.  His wife had him sign for a second mortgage and then took the money and split.  He helped move me to California to live with him and his boys so I could fight that battle for him.    I took up that battle and won it for him and as soon as I won, he turned right around and made me homeless.  And kept all my belongings (sadly, a common victimization of all made homeless). 

Before he made me homeless, however, I secured his home for him, reduced his mortgage payments by sixty percent . . . got the bank to write off a big chunk . . . and, as soon as I won, he threw me to the streets, proving the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished. 

My children and I were never ‘truly’ homeless, as we lived between two sets of sofa’s, in two homes, on either side of town, for four very long, very hard months.  Then, only after we suffered enough, the family stepped in and helped secure a home.  Not the local family, the family from back-east.  It was a framing experience for who I am today.  Framing.  That’s the nicest thing I can say about it.  (I still shake my fist at God about it, now and again.)

Yesterday, through facebook, I received an S.O.S. call from a local disabled vet who is going to be made homeless in seven days by the county -- because he has no electricity.  To ‘not have’ electricity in his sub-division violates code.  I knew his emotional state was not good, so I arrived there about an hour after he contacted me, and I was one of the first people he contacted when he got the letter. 

While he waited, he called the county -- the woman who authored the eviction notice, and asked her, “Are you trying to make me blow my brains out?  Because that’s really the only alternative I see here.”

Because he mentioned suicide in that phone call, a few moments after I arrived, two Sheriff’s deputies appeared at his door-step.  I was so offended by their cardboard cop routine.  The disabled vet, in answer to their question, “are you depressed?” explained about the notice.  Explained about the family home, paid for, no debt on property taxes or anything.  He explained that all of his belongings will be lost and he will go to the streets.  And about his dying room-mate, who would also end up on the streets.

“But are you depressed?” asked the cardboard cop, again.

“Wouldn’t you be?” replied the tired-looking veteran of the US Marine Corp.

“But are you ok?” asked the other cardboard cop.

“No!  I’m NOT OK at all!” he said, but then as soon as he said it, he realized that these men were not going to help him and getting tranquilized and put in a psych ward was not going to help him.  We exchanged much as our eyes locked between the two uniforms.

I interrupted and said “He’s fine.”

The one cop got angry and scolded me for not letting the veteran speak.  It infuriated me.

"Dude, have you ever been homeless?  Have you?"

I awoke his inner bully (I guess) because he insisted I step away from the other two, with him, where he and I proceeded to argue.  He tried to lecture me on how they are uniquely trained to handle this shit, and he was very insulted when I said "Use your head!  He's just been told he's trash!  For a $6,000 bill owed PG&E, the town he was born into, the town he grew up in, the town he buried his parents in, the town he gave birth to a child in, that town just told him that he is trash.  That he is a throw-away person.  And why?  Because the big fat corporate entity, PG&E, won’t give him electricity.  The corporation is causing his homelessness and forgive my hostility, Sir, but you are the corporations’ stooges.  And all you want, right now, from him, is for him to tell you he won’t harm himself and he’s not depressed.  Dude, you can’t have someone tell you that you are trash and not be depressed.  It’s depressing!”

“Ma’am, I think you should just quit talking now.”

“Well, that feeling is mutual, Sir.”

He is sixty years old and disabled.  He has another disabled man living with him, who is on oxygen, collects disability (also) and is near death.  The house is filled with stuff, but nothing of value to anyone but the men living there.  This vet can make his own case (he can verbalize) regarding how he has been systematically victimized by PG&E and the county, but his hands are gnarled and his knees cause him chronic pain. 

The young officer of the county sheriff’s department was furious at me and I was being belligerent because I couldn’t formulate, at the time, what I was really dismayed about.  

I was really dismayed that they just wanted a ‘yes or no’ answer to two questions.  Are you depressed?  Do you feel like you could harm yourself or others?  The men standing there in there crisp brown uniforms, leathered up as if ready for a really German BDSM film, the ones who could actually DO something for this man, didn’t ask the humanitarian question.  They didn’t want to know how to help him, they wanted to know if they should cart him off to the psychiatric wing for observation, that’s all.

They should have offered him SOMETHING in the line of help, some validation that he was being victimized, something that they could personally do for this situation.  And if they can’t do that, then they need to shelf the faux concern.  “We’re just here to make sure he’s ok”.  If you want him to be ok, do this.  Tell the county to take back the eviction notice.  Get PG&E involved because if they would just give him back his fricking electric, the man would be fine! They are evicting him for not having electricity, while his mate lies dying in the back room. 

The house is paid for.  The property taxes are paid.  This man is not a criminal.  He is being harassed because he grows his own cannabis and his unenlightened subdivision neighbors don’t like it that he has a few pot plants growing in his back yard every fall. 

He has been paying $400 to $600 a month for fuel for a generator just to get internet and to keep his refrigerator and stove going.  He’s lived this way for six years and interestingly enough, his health took a big dive a year after PG&E landed their $6K extra assessment on him.  A year after that, he was declared completely disabled and was authorized by the State to receive in home care service (he can’t drive). 

Two things.  One, I think there is evidence of cause-and-effect between PG&E victimizing him, and his disabled health.  Two, how does he get in home care workers to take care of him in a home with no electricity?  Amazing.

I assured the Sheriff’s that I wasn’t going to let him ‘off’ himself and that they could take their leather and weapons and be on their way.  Frankly, they didn’t care what I said, but my friend?  He told them what they wanted to hear so they would leave.

He did not get behind in his electric bills for growing pot, or for cooking meth, or for anything of the things I might have done to get my electric put back on.  Six years ago, PG&E randomly sent him a bill for $6K, with an explanation that the meter reading guy hadn’t been reading the meter correctly for the past several years, and so there is catch-up to play.  Mr. disabled vet had no job and no money and no way to come up with $6K.  So, PG&E just added interest year after year until it got to $10K and then they cut him off.

Sometime in this period, he received a one-time settlement check of $3,200 for back social security owed him and he turned it all over to PG&E!  They magnanimously turned on the lights for six months, and then shut him off again.  In six years, he’s had electricity in his house for six months. 

It is a fact that twenty-six vets commit suicide every day in this country, and the vast majority do it because they are refused help from the medical establishment, from the law.  By the way they are treated, these people are being told – systematically – that they are, in fact, ‘throw away people’ – of no value to this world. 

You really have to be made homeless, violently and completely, to understand how it makes suicide the only sane choice.  Seriously.  People with healthy egos, with healthy attitudes, with many gifts and with much love in their hearts -- put in that situation, will say ‘ok, fuck this – I am not playing out this drama.  I am not going to experience sleeping on the streets and begging with a cup.  No thank you.  I am exiting stage left.  You can take my house, you can take my shit, but you can’t make me stand around and watch you do it to me.’

The county’s office was absolutely right to take heed in his words, when this man accused them of trying to get him to blow his own brains out.  They were right to worry.  Sending two sheriff’s who basically, stand there, thumbs hooked in belt-loops, dark glasses that ensure you can’t see their eyes, rocking back and forth on their heels as if they are anxious to do something – anything – club someone, chase someone, f*ck someone up, looking all official and in command, letting you know that they won’t go away until they hear what they want to hear.  So, my friend gave them that to make them go away.  But the danger hasn’t gone away.  

The danger is still real -- because I know this old vet and he is a proud man.  He spent his life cutting trees down, climbing big-ass trees, taking on daunting tasks that many men wouldn’t do.  He is a devoted fan of mother earth, but also, a skilled hunter and outdoorsman.  He isn’t going to dance to their tune. He will become another veteran statistic, rather than accept the title of ‘throw away person’.

Who is at blame for this situation?  I wonder.  Everyone probably has a share.  The disabled vet for not calling me in sooner.  Me, for knowing that he had a PG&E problem and falsely assuming it had something to do with indoor grow light bills (not the issue – at all!), but those are sins of reaction.  The county gets an F in sensitivity and caring, because they are just enforcing the law.  PG&E started this whole thing and PG&E has never done anything to resolve it with him – though I know he has tried . . . a man who is living on $900 a month doesn’t give $3,200 to PG&E without expecting resolution.  Permanent resolution.

And you all know that PG&E wrote off that loss many, many years ago, right?

I have a call with my disabled vet friend this morning to begin to draw up the history.  I will play documentarian and get the story down, and then start making calls . . . PG&E, the County, the V.A., the newspapers . . . Let us hope that in this case, my pen will prove mightier than the system.

Cannabis Kate in California (
Other Blogs in the Cannabis Kate Series
1st:  Central Valley Cannabis Operations
2nd: Back Then (Smoking Through Prohibition)
3rd: Experience Growing Cannabis
4th:  The Cannabis Landscape of the Central Valley and a Tribute to the Activists

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Cannabis Landscape of the Central Valley: A Tribute to the Activists

There’s a quiet revolt going on with American professionals.  There are doctors who refuse to spend all their time keeping up with new pharmaceuticals, and have gone back to really listening to their patients, embracing self-healing and alternative medicine.  There are history teachers – across the land – who are abandoning the History books in favor of truth.  They work within the system, but they also work against it. There are jurists who purposely go to jury duty with the intention of ensuring a hung trial so not one more person of color goes to prison in this country.  Yes, this is happening.

All of these groups are viewed, by me, through adoring eyes.  All of these groups want to walk away from the corrupt system, but instead, they all step into it, knowing that as yukky as it is, as corrupt as it is, it is easier to affect change, quietly, working within the system, one patient at a time, one case at a time, than trying to bring it down and re-build it.  It is tedious work.  It takes a really solid person to take on work that makes such small dents, and yet, consumes so much energy.

Recently, the Sisters attended two meetings in the central valley of California framing next year’s ballot initiative in regard to de-regulating cannabis.  It turns out, there are evil rich people and corporations framing their own initiatives, and if we (the people) don’t all get behind one of them, we could end up having ballot initiatives cancel each other out and we will end up where we are now – behind the eight-ball, in an industry where we once led the charge.

There are still an awful lot of people alive and kicking in America who believe cannabis is the devil’s weed.  Personally, I thought we would have to wait for a whole bunch more of the old folks to kick the bucket before reform would happen.  But it is happening.

De-regulation is coming, but how it comes could be very good or very bad for the central valley.  (‘De-regulation’ is, actually, a misnomer.  The meetings revealed that there will be plenty of regulations.)  I put forth to you, herein, two potential ballot initiative outcomes -- two scenarios.  One has a good outcome and one is bad. 

The bad outcome would be that some pasty rich white guys (probably) representing big corporations -- who profit from the criminal justice system -- would get their way.  Their ballot initiative says “Ok, we’ll let you grow licensed commercial cannabis in our state, but, no one is allowed to smoke it on the premises – ever -- and if you violate that rule, the State has the right to seize all your assets.”  Isn’t that lovely?  Feed the prison system.  Feed the Police State.  (What mastermind of evil comes up with such bullshit?  I’m going to have a chocolate factory, but no one is allowed to taste the chocolate.  I am going to have a winery, but no one is allowed to taste the wine.  Ridiculous.  And scary.)

The second outcome, and the one that makes me have visions of loveliness everywhere, is like a fairy Godmother taking her magic wand and spreading it across the valley, turning the place from black and white to color – transforming it magically from dreary, sad, poverty, to a thriving economic, educational, and tourist center (much like Napa Valley is for wine country.)  Oh, la, la!  Jobs!  Upward mobility for a downtrodden people!  Three generations of excessive unemployment knocked off its pedestal!  Central valley cannabis and cannabis products shipping out internationally!  People coming from around the world to stay at bed and breakfasts that sit upon small cannabis farms that allow the world to look, see, and learn . . . a revival of Yosemite tourism.  It is a delicious vision for a sad, poor, uneducated place.

Here’s the part where you say, “Yeah, but you have no water.”   And it’s where I reply with my four-point argument. 

Number one, cannabis takes far less water than almonds or pomegranates and produces much more tax money than those crops.

Number two, if the central valley lawmakers and law enforcement would get their heads out of their asses and embrace cannabis and begin exporting the non-psychotropic strains and products (like ours) that contain the high CBD medicine, we would be wealthy enough to have our own de-salinization plant on the coast.  And wealthy enough to pipe water into the valley.  If you think I am na├»ve on this point, perhaps I am.  But really, I have to believe that if we can put man on the moon, we can get water from the Pacific over here.  Legal cannabis is going to be $3.5 billion this year (in just America) and $11 billion within three years.  The valley capturing ten percent of that would be worth three hundred and fifty million dollars ($350M).  That’s the prize we have our eyes upon.

Number three.  People are changing their water consumption habits because we all know we must!  If your lawn is green, you are an idiot.  That’s how it is in the central valley.  Lawns are being replaced with rock gardens and cacti. 

Finally, there’s a tsunami coming.  I told you I am a powerful wizardress with strong medicine and if you mess with me, I will summons a winter of a thousand years upon your head.  No, really, I just pray for rain.  And it seems its coming.  I think there are a lot of women in the central valley praying for rain, and through the power of the divine feminine, we summoned the coming tsunami.

Enough about water, but you can’t discuss the central valley of California without acknowledging the problem.  If you need your well drilled down two hundred feet, for example (like the Sisters do on our farm), there is an eighteen month wait.  Well-drilling is the boom business around here at the moment.

While we do what we can to grow cannabis under the current restrictions of the country (twelve plants per property), we cannot attract investors if we cannot ensure large crops.  Investors from back east are greedy buggers and they think big (which is why the Sisters need to speak with them af en toe – now and then).  We, the Sisters, need places where we can grow up to a thousand plants, to accommodate our business growth.  We have to spread our plants among many locations, now, and it’s kind of crazy.  And though it has never happened to us, we hear stories of police ripping plants out of the ground of authorized cannabis growers and tax-paying citizens.  On behalf of mother earth, I find that extremely offensive.

It was at the Reform California meeting in Visalia that I met a semi-retired lawyer who sued police (in civil suits) who ripped cannabis plants out of the ground.  He has been making these law suits for years, and I asked him if he ever won any and he said “Nope.  But I make a helluva nuisance and expense for the city and the county by doing it.”  Another crusader who takes it case by case, patiently initiating civil suits and litigation nightmares for those cops who rip cannabis plants out of the ground.  I love this man.  And I love all men and women who take up weary, tiresome chores just to whittle away at the skin of the monolithic structure that is, in so many ways, all wrong.

Here’s to you, the history teachers who deviate from the history books, to the lawyers who take up unwinnable cases just to poke at a boil that needs lancing.  Here’s to you, the doctors, who refuse to be the pharmaceutical companies’ puppets.  Here’s to you anarchist jurists and to those who put their time and money behind building the dream of what the central valley of California could be.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

So, Kate, what IS your experience with growing Cannabis?

Driving cross country from Atlanta to the central valley of California, back in the summer of 2008, my brother was already trying to convince me to get into the Cannabis business with him.  We were secretly carting my kids off to California to keep them away from their felon father.  We were traveling in my Dodge caravan with the three children and a golden retriever (Buddy). 

We had over two hundred dollars in fireworks that were legal in Mississippi, but not California, and over an ounce of weed on us.  We expected state troopers at every border, and when we’d cross, we’d do a group sigh of relief that we were clear -- a sigh of relief that it was happening.  Distance between my kids and their father, whose rails had clearly gone off the track.  Distance between my children and his family, who were encouraging his brand of crazy.  Distance behind us and a volatile two years of divorce and custody battles.  The children were excited.  They are adventurers, all three.  But we didn’t know there were two California’s.   We didn’t know we were carrying our liberal democrat souls into the Iowa of California.  And it was the year of the housing market crash.  We didn’t know how we were going to support the combined families.  My brothers’ small electronics business wasn’t going to do it.

“C’mon, Sis,” said Joe.  “You don’t want to go back to consulting anyway, you are tired of traveling all the time, you want to be with your kids.  The laws on cannabis are changing.”   Joe talked for a long time -- as soon as the kids were asleep, and as I recall, all the way through Arizona.   

Just after he finished explaining about the central valley sandy, loamy soil, I asked, “So what is the most amount of weed you’ve ever grown at one time?” His answer made me roll my eyes.  One plant.  One pound per year.  I laughed.  “You’re crazy.” I told him.  “You don’t know jack shit about growing weed and you want me to found a – what do you call them?  A collective?”

“I can do more!” he said, “The first thing we do is get our cannabis cards.”

He had to do a whole lot more talking, because I wasn’t even aware there was such a thing.  But it all sounded like alcohol prohibition, how people got ‘prescriptions’ for their alcohol and it was procured through the doctors and pharmacists.  And since my background was de-regulating businesses, telecom, cable, energy, it sounded like it could be interesting.

We had our hands full settling the kids, but over the next year, I did my research and became familiar with the steps.  Because I was still in litigation for custody of my three minors, I was adamant about doing everything by the book.  (Kentucky would take my kids away from me for doing this.) 

My brother’s boys had very bad California central valley educations, and like many of the youth here, were doing nothing but gaming and getting stoned all day.  I got them both back in school and convinced the anarchist son to study agriculture, so we would have somebody on the premise who knew something about growing.  I got commitments from all of them to an ‘open electronics’ household, where no devices would be password protected and that I had the right to look into all of them.  I knew that as soon as word was out that we had cannabis, my boys’ high school friends would come knocking.  I made them all commit to no black market sales – ever.  No ‘off the book’ sales – ever.  I made my brother start declaring his cash sales at his business for the first time in thirty years, because, as I explained to him, “If I let you leak cash through your business without reporting it, and I am doing the books for both businesses, then the IRS would assume that I was also letting cash leak through the cannabis business.”  He didn’t like it, but I did his books and I didn’t let a dollar slip out unreported.

We grew an eighteen pound crop our first year, a thirty pound crop our second year, and in our third year, it all fell to hell over envy and greed.  As I recall, the little family delivery service we founded did around forty-five thousand the first year, seventy-five thousand the second year, and in the third year, it dropped down to first year numbers as a secret revolt was taking place in-house.  The growers (my brother and his boys) weren’t getting wealthy fast enough, so they began to feed the black market, behind my back.  The crops got bigger, the income got smaller.  I had to bail.  I loved my brother, but not enough to go to jail for him.

Most of the money earned in those years of operating ‘Caregrowers’ went to the family.  We had a business that relied on doctors referring patients to us, and which netted us mostly terminal patients.  We made house-calls.  And we did much more than deliver Cannabis.  We would run errands for those house-bound patients on our way to deliver the medicine – we would bring groceries, cigarettes - even, bring Thanksgiving dinner.  For the six children in our home, ages thirteen to twenty-two, it was an exercise in service.  For awhile, it worked; it was noble.  We were envied our team spirit and our ability to pass the baton back and forth.

Back in those days, no one asked about the CBD to THC ratio.  All anyone ever wanted to know was ‘Indica’ or ‘Sativa’?   After we got robbed at gun-point, we got dogs.  We named the two German Shepherds by those names, but called them ‘Indy’ and ‘Sadie’ for short.  Sometime, I will tell the story of the robbery.

Even though it was quite upsetting at the time, the crumbling of the family operation was (for me) a good thing.  Over those years of harvesting, curing, and making tea and tinctures, I came to love the medicine and the business.  And I worked with other growers, during that time, and I came to suspect anything they’d say.  I learned that many think they can grow good cannabis, but few truly can.  Many boast about the size of their kola’s (which sounds an awful lot like men bragging about the size of their dicks), and I became immune to their shit-talk.  My own brother and his boys did an adequate job, but as it turned out, they were amateurs, too.

When the Universe gave me a chance to strike out on my own, I knew, by that time, that if I wanted to find the guys who are the experts, I needed to find the ones who had been doing it for more than two decades.  And I knew in my heart, that if the Universe brought me a real expert, he would probably have a criminal record.  By the time I got around to launching the Sisters of the Valley cannabis tea and tincture business, I didn’t care.  I would deal with the cultural clashes that presents, just, Lord, please bring me someone who can competently handle my crops.  Bring me grown-ups who take security as seriously as the medicine, who mitigate my risk of loss. 

My brother and his boys regularly did ridiculous things – cost us five hundred dollars in an attempt to save five.  We lost two sets of seedlings from Attitude Seedbank, worth $500 – and that was a lot of money to us – because my brother (who likes to decide these things for himself), decided to save on electricity by removing the shell of the gaming computers and setting the plants on the floor next to them, using heat and lights from the unit. It was winter.  The floors were cold.  When I learned that not a single one of the seeds sprouted, I made them develop a proper cloning closet with proper lights, heat and ventilation . . . and I spent another two hundred fifty dollars on seeds, so they could try again.  You get the picture.  For those three years of running the collective together, the reason I got my education on ‘other growers’, is because of how my brother grew (and often -- didn’t grow) his weed.

When I finally came upon an excellent grow team, I could look back and say, “I now know the difference between a good grower and a bad one.”

A good grower takes security as seriously as -- with as much weight and gravitas as – all other parts of growing.  A bad grower wants to show everyone his budding crop, but a good grower gets mad at you if you even suggest it.  A good grower spares no expense for these plants.  A bad grower tries to find short-cuts and cheats.  A good grower checks them daily, sits with them, talks to them, encourages them, and treats them like the royal ladies they are.  A bad grower throws his tools around and has temper tantrums in the garden, allowing contempt to flow over the ladies and makes them cringe and stunts their growth.

Good growers won’t let round-up or any Monsanto products anywhere near the Ladies.  Bad growers are lazy and often choose that dark path.  Good growers aren’t afraid of lab tests, bad growers are.  Good growers know their strains and if, for example, a certain activist nun happens to mix two strains in a bag, the good growers can separate the weed back out by sight.  In short order.  With no fuss.  (Ok, they fussed a little.)

When I closed Caregrowers, I turned the membership over to a group of people that wanted to take the baton (Jack’s Greenhouse) and today, that collective is one of our best clients for salves and tinctures.

I lost a grow season to trusting the shit-talk of a few more growers who didn’t know what they were doing, but by the Spring of 2014, I hit the jack-pot -- the Universe sent me ‘good’ growers.  It turns out that if you want a good grower, you can’t be insisting on a good citizen.  And that made cultural challenges of our first harvest season unbelievably huge.

My house became the Green Acres of the cannabis business, where passionate and sometimes comical debates took place over the handling of the plants, the law, and the business.  Imagine a six foot something, two-hundred pound Mexican man telling me, “I am the boss, here.” And all five foot two inches of me stretching to my tallest to say “That very well may be, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do it my way.” Imagine, then, his pause, as he wonders if I am agreeing or not.  Spanish is his first language and stubbornness is mine. 

Stay tuned.  My next will discuss those cultural clashes as the new grow team and I got accustomed to one another.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Back Then

The first time I tried marijuana, I was seventeen years old, in Wisconsin, in winter, sitting in a car in below zero weather, with four other pom pom girls, across the street from the high school, late the night of a football game.  No one got high.  No one felt anything.  And so we concluded that marijuana is an over-rated drug and we went back to doing what was respectable – drinking Boone’s farm wine ‘til we couldn’t walk.

My starter husband was a total stoner.  He was ex-Air Force, and smoked the herb daily.  He needed that medicine; he was an asshole without it.  That marriage lasted about as long as the Iran Hostage Crisis, and when I was finally divorced at the young age of 23, I still hadn’t tried any weed since that day in the car in the parking lot.  I drank to forget my troubles, like all good mid-western Catholic girls.  And because I held firmly to the belief that marijuana had no effect on me, I was never tempted to smoke my husband’s medicine.  Ever.

Shortly after my starter marriage ended, General Electric’s Neutron Jack eliminated my job (and hundreds of others), but I was lucky, the Company transferred me to a position in Atlanta.  There, more than four hundred miles away from my family (specifically, my three older brothers), I was free to experiment and there I was introduced to good weed and good cocaine.  It was Atlanta in the 1980’s and I was making good money and running in corporate circles and cocaine was everywhere.  I learned quickly, however, that weed helped me sleep, while cocaine blew up my sleep schedule.  I realized quickly that weed didn’t deplete my body of calcium or any vital ingredients, while white powder definitely did.  I learned that weed goes better with wine, that weed is calming, that weed left me with no side effects . . . I gave up the powder and partying, but kept the weed and the wine, in moderation, like medicine.  That was thirty years ago, and I am happy to report that we (my drugs and I) have a marvelous relationship to this day.

For the decades following my starter marriage, someone brought me an ounce of weed every month and I paid anywhere from $300 to $400 for my home-delivered medicine.  I was a very good analyst, project manager, and business development specialist, America had an economy, and I was healthy and took no other pills or medicines.  I exercised every day, and even became vegan-ish in eating habits.   Weed became my drug of choice. 
Committed cannabis lovers, during that period of history, had to have healthy egos.  Every family reunion, when my brother and I would walk away to have our medicine, we would be judged for our law-breaking mentalities.  Judged harshly.  Relatives would scold us for talking to the teenagers, “You didn’t tell them you smoke weed, did you?”  (As if . . . hey, nieces, nephews, gather round and let me share my sins . . .)

Everyone in the family acted disgusted and annoyed that my brother and I had our cannabis with us, always, but they couldn’t argue with the fact that alcoholism was the big killer in our family.  Killer of joy, killer of livers, killer of hearts, minds and bodies.  So we let them snub us, we’d grin and bear it.

We just got used to breaking the law in this one instance, because prohibition was unfounded, ungrounded, and illogical.  And as the years went by, we watched pharmaceuticals creep into people’s daily lives in a sinister way, like a cancer reaching out, spreading tentacles.  “What do you mean, you have to take that anti-depressant every day for it to work?  Don’t they have a pill you can take just on the days you are feeling bad? What if you’re not depressed every day?  What if you are supposed to be depressed because someone just shit on you and it’s a normal reaction?”  Legitimate questions from the stoner crowd.

Everything is now changing.  The secret is out.  The evidence is clear.  THC prevents Alzheimer’s, CBD makes cancer cells commit suicide, and pharmaceuticals are killing people.  The truth is out, so prohibition is no longer sustainable. 

I have to admit that back in the seventies and eighties, I couldn’t see that the prohibition on cannabis would ever be lifted.  I couldn’t see it changing in my lifetime.  Even though I supported, off and on (as I could), the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, I really didn’t think it was a winnable fight.  Too much cultural resistance.  In those days, I made sure I had connections to supply, I paid for the right, and I forgot the injustice to the plant.  Back in those days, I couldn’t have foreseen raising my children in the world capital of cannabis (Amsterdam), nor did I foresee ending up sending them off to college in the first state to recognize medical marijuana as a thing (California).  I certainly didn’t anticipate launching a weed business.  But here I am. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Central Valley Cannabis Operations

My Name is Sister Kate.  I am an accidental nun, and that story will be told in time.  I have been directed by my own higher powers to begin writing, regularly, about the adventure I am on.  I have been told to reveal the story as it unfolds, because, it is in the better good of the people to know what’s happening, as it happens . . . and because, it is for the better good of the Sisters of the Valley to take people along with us on the ride.  “Your readers will help and inspire you.”  (Desiree, my earth angel)

After harvesting a bountiful cannabis crop last fall, we were in the position to launch our line.  For the first six months of this year, we played.  We made teas and tinctures and medicines and sold them locally, and gave away a lot of product for people to try.  In our play, we figured out what seriously worked for folks and suddenly, we had people requesting our cannabis medicines from far corners of the world.  People were offering amazing testimonials on the healing powers of our products.

We make our medicines by moon cycles and, as best we can figure, in accordance with ancient First Nation rituals.  We sew prayer and healing into each jar and each bottle.  We put the batches up under a new moon and bottle under a full moon.  Women only make the medicines.  It is a solemn ritual.  As new age nuns, these are our periods of celibacy – the medicine-making moon cycles.

We have all our products certified organic and labeled with potency information from SC Labs in Santa Cruz.  Sometimes our product potency does not match up with the testimonials we are getting.  The miracle cure stories, the re-orders, the buzz, is more than what the potency label shows. 

“My potency for CBD looks weak compared to others,” (I complained to the lab technician), “And yet, I am hearing it cures, or contributes greatly to the cure of a great many things.”
“It could be working so well because of your combination of CBD, CBN and THC.” Offers the lab technician.

“But your labels!  People are going to think we have weak medicine!” I object.  “Shouldn’t we retest that batch?”

“It is what it is, Sister.”  Says the lab tech patiently.

“Perhaps it is because we do it in a spiritual environment, calling on the lunar energies, Mother Earth, preparing them with focus on healing intent?  Perhaps it is because we tell the patients to apply with healing intent, and they do?  Perhaps it is because we have pulled in energies that you aren’t testing.  When are you going to test for the energies of the environment the medicine was made in?  That would be something!”

“Do you have anything else, Sister?” the lab boy says patiently.

Meanwhile, we sold out of CBD oil within two weeks of opening the ETSY store.  This is a grand experiment, after all, and the public is embracing the medicine. 

In April and May, I began contacting dispensaries and 420 delivery services, by going to weedmaps, beginning in our home town, and working my way outward fifty miles in all directions, I contacted cannabis suppliers.  They were very slow to respond, but by July 1st, around the same time I opened the ETSY store, I had three of them regularly buying products from us.  Just two days ago, I did the numbers for July and between the on-line store and the local cannabis suppliers, we are doing over a hundred a day in sales (humble, but auspicious beginnings).

When it comes to the many facets of this business diamond, it seems my dual Gemini nature reflects in all.  Marketing has two prongs:  dispensaries and direct sales via the internet.  Marketing has more prongs within those prongs (somewhere), which are wholesale and retail, agent force and direct marketing.  Our product line has two prongs:  Regulated and de-regulated (must be sold through dispensaries or can be sold to public). 

The big challenge right now is in securing a CBD crop.  We have two mini-farms going with all CBD crop but that won’t be ready until November.  On Wednesday night, under the new moon, under what we, the Sisters, call the mid-Summer moon, we put up our last batch of CBD oil (see photos) until harvest -- unless we can shake some high CBD leaf loose from the universe.  Just yesterday, I put out the distress call to the Native’s.  They might be able to help.   But that’s the joy of being in a newly deregulating business.  You never really know from whence the great challenges come.  Here in the central valley, it is hard to convince growers to grow the high CBD, low THC strains.  None of them believe there is a market. 

I am not allowed to write about growing; I have been forbidden to write on grow operations, which makes me crazy, because that is wild, wild, west shit and catnip for my cat-soul.   Maybe I’ll write about it, just a little.  Stay with me . . .

Sister Kate