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08/18/2006 Archived Entry: "I tour a cannabis growing operation"

TALK ABOUT SYNCHRONICITY ... On the very morning I blog my nascent curiosity about the little miracles of cannabis cultivation, I'm introduced to my area's foremost expert on growing the sacred herb.

Before you craven thieves jackbooted drug-thugs and pencil-necked asset-forfeiture accountants get all excited, I'll tell you that this guy -- call him George after hemp-growing forefather, George Washington -- has a license to grow. He's a medical marijuana patient, and by law he can have a certain fairly generous number of plants for his own use.

I don't know whether our meetup was a true act of serendipity or whether the friend who introduced us -- call him Sam after great agitator Samuel Adams -- deliberately arranged things that way. All I know is that a few minutes after I arrived at Sam's house for one of our all-too-rare chats, George happened to drive up.

Within a few minutes more, as if it were as natural as discussing the weather, he was answering my questions about cannabis and offering tales, trivia, and lore I'd never known.

Can you imagine how refreshing it was to simply sit and have a normal conversation with a stranger about growing cannabis -- more interesting than, but otherwise not much different than, discussing his zuccini or corn crop.

At first his openness alarmed me because surely even a licensed medical cannabis user knows there are cops and prosecutors out there who'd like to see him make one tiny wrong step so they could move in on him, pump up their drug-bust stats, and sell his property to buy new toys for the police department. Besides, we all know exactly how much respect all the various fed drug-thugs have for state medical marijuana laws -- and those boys can be as mean as an uncleaned litterbox. But once I understood he felt comfortable around me because ... well, Sam doesn't attract bad friends ... it was a rush.

Not only that, but I greatly enjoyed his company, in general. Online, I meet lots of people who share common backgrounds in things like gun-rights, U.S. history, and the individual vs the state. In real life, I meet plenty of people who care about freedom -- once they're poked about it -- but who don't really know a lot. George and I shared common ground on everything from JPFO to drug legalization (everything that is, except economics). Plus he had a lot of insights that struck me as pretty damn brilliant.

So of course I did what I do under such circumstances. I overcompensated by talking too volubly about Truth, Justice, and The American Way and probably alienated the poor guy for good. But before I bored him to smithereens, he invited me to come see his growing operation. And then kindly gave me permission to write about it.

In surprisingly little space in a corner of his basement, George has walled off two miniature rooms. In the first, an anteroom, he has small plants still in vegetative (immature) stage under a light hood and a table-top sized hydroponics unit for rooting cuttings. In the inner room, which we viewed solely under green light, he has mature plants in bud -- some four weeks (about half way) into the budding process and some, at eight weeks, ready for harvest. A fan circulates air over them to discourage mold formation.

Plants in bud (or that you want to induce to bud) need 13 hours of unbroken darkness each day (thus the green light, which they can't "see"). You shouldn't even turn on a room light for a few seconds or expose the budding plants to something as dim as a streetlamp during those hours. Thus George's little inner room was perfect for ensuring the right degree of darkness.

His plants were perfect and healthy. He showed me which displayed strong indica traits and which were sativa dominant. Merely the smell of the place was lovely. Fresh, growing cannabis has an aroma like something you'd love to mix into a salad or sprinkle onto a marinara sauce for that little extra touch of flavor. How anyone could ever smell fresh grass and think it's unwholesome is beyond me.

George even has a theory on why the U.S. has pursued an official policy of "reefer madness" all these decades. He thinks it's because somebody in government long ago tried the stuff and instantly realized that anybody who discovered it was likely to say, "Fuck you" to government's attempts to control people. So naturally they had to ban it. Not to keep us safe from ourselves. But to keep government power safe from us.


He also related the story of going to the doctor to get permission to grow medicinal weed. He dreaded it, he told Sam and me, and expected to be hassled, grilled, and ultimately tossed out of the office by some arrogant (and probably government-cowed) authority figure. Instead, the doctor was thorough but understanding. He examined George, listened to everything he had to say -- really listened -- then gave him the required letter, which George now posts immediately inside the door of his house, and outside his grow-room, and even carries in his vehicle.

"I wish more doctors were like you," George said as he prepared to leave the clinic.

"They used to be," the doctor replied.

And so we "progress" in the drug war, from good to bad and bad to worse. But a few with courage and kindness still prevail.

George said he wanted to read this on the blog. So if you're out there, George ... thank you and Sam for a glorious, heartening, delicious-smelling day. And thank you for having the guts to make this part of your life an open book.


P.S. I realized only after writing this that a home cannabis grower must surely face dangers from freelance thieves as well as thieves employed by government. It seems a sign of our times that cops and DAs struck me as a far more serious threat to the security of an innocent man than criminals who don't pretend to be working in the public interest.

Posted by Claire @ 07:40 AM CST

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