With every conversation I have with patients, caregivers and growers, I become more excited about being a part of this ever-expanding industry. A green curtain has descended across the United States and each day the barriers of ignorance are being gradually disassembled brick by brick while everyone in the cannabis industry sits back and watches with a smile. Cannabis entrepreneurs can now revel in their potential economic upward mobility instead of fearing the future. At our dispensary, I hear stories of the dark ages of cannabis prohibition from those who have spent a majority of their lives navigating the high-risk landscape.
I talked with Ron Petty, a touring musician with the band Phamous Phaces, about some of the trials and tribulations of trying to enjoy cannabis in the pre-legalization era. Ron is a medical marijuana patient and long-time advocate for the cannabis community.
“Being harassed was expected,” Ron explained. “A car full of unknown faces with long hair passing through a small town in Oregon — that was more than enough reason to get pulled over back then.”
Tales of burying dime bags outside of gigs or police scanning cars for any flakes or seeds are a few of the stories that have become commonplace at our dispensary. Stories from the supplier’s vantage point can be doubly challenging. I’ve spoken extensively with one cannabis grower, Russ, a family man and pressman. We’ve talked about his life leading up to being a professional and highly respected cannabis farmer finding his place in Oregon’s burgeoning and increasingly transparent marketplace.
“It was completely different,” he said of the past. “You told nobody about it, that was just too much risk. Girlfriends and friends were dangerous. One day you guys could be fine, but the next day you have an argument and people do a lot of dumb things when they are angry. A grower back then lived a much more isolated existence. To this day I still hold some of those values purely out of fear of the changing law. No one really knows in this industry, and it seems like it changes every day.”
The industry associated with this plant has come a long way, but still has a long way to go. This enterprise must strive for legitimacy. The only way for cannabis to move out of the basement and into the public eye is through exposure and the simple action of taking this plant and our industry seriously. My generation is perfectly poised to explore, define, and conquer this remarkable new world of cannabis legalization.
Jordan Cagle is a budtender and grower with experience working in several large-scale commercial grows. Everyday he interacts with and learns from every part of the cannabis industry.