When I set out to be a self-sufficient writer, I told myself there would be some challenges to living alone on one spotty income in a very remote location. That expectation hasn’t disappointed. It’s been a challenge.
Rewarding. Brilliant. Terrifying.
But yes, challenging.
I told myself I’d have to adapt, experiment, build, and be open to new ideas to support the end goal of writing full time and being self-sustainable. All ideas. A very open mind. Because the end goal of being free to write, was more important than how it would come about.
Enter the booming world of licensed/legal recreational cannabis.
For the record, I’ve never been interested in recreational drugs. In fact, I was 39 years old before I took my first puff, and only because I needed to know what I was about to be mass producing for public consumption. Still, a year later, I’m not much of a consumer—but I’m falling in love with cannabis as a culinary ingredient. (more on that later)
When the opportunity came up to partner with a friend and begin a legal grow operation licensed by the state of Oregon, well, it was a wild leap. The opportunity fit our shared mutual interests in new uses for a formerly illegal substance, as well as providing the avenue for two women to build a business and support themselves financially.
I could see the long game of being self-sustainable, finally, with enough left over to pay for the production of my books.
Did I ever once in my life expect to become a licensed drug dealer in order to peddle my literature? No, of course not. But such is the way of the world and its low value bar for independent art.
Drugs to pay for art. It wasn’t plan A, but it would work. So be it.
I said I’d keep an open mind, but as we began the process of legal licensure (it took two years to clear a license) I began to think maybe I’d opened my mind a little TOO much.
During the two years of setup, the bottom fell out of the market, and the hurdles to clear the license seemed like constantly moving targets. Just when we cleared one hurdle, a new one appeared, or the regulations changed. The state of Oregon developed a glut of weed and product was selling at a quarter of its cost just a year prior.
I worried that by the time we got our license, the public would be bored of marijuana or the regs would make it even more cost prohibitive to sell.
Still, we pressed on with out application, which was requesting a leased space so small, it was barely worth the auditor’s energy to show up. Simply put. Our grow is the smallest licensed grow in the state, and we only just wriggled in to one of the last available application slots before the cutoff.
We were fortunate by the grace of the marijuana gods, to land the consultation and support of a master grower. I’ll leave that story up to them to tell as it’s not mine to blog, but it’s not lost on me that without his help and support, we would have been dead in the water, so to speak. (The first several attempts I made to grow plants ended in disaster. They kept tipping over and or breaking, shriveling up, or splitting. Who has a grower license and not a single green thumb? Me. Yep. Without consultation, I would have had a rotten pile of weed compost.)
All this is to say, life is funny sometimes. I spent two decades of my life tipping my nose up at pot-heads, being frustrated with their slow grasp or desperate escapism. I avoided dating 420 friendly people, because I hated the spacey conversations, and “forgotten” appointments. Too many of them also had lost their sex drive, and were emotionally stunted, or unaware. It was such a sore frustration that I stopped hanging out with stoners and addicts (alcohol included) altogether.
Only in the process of becoming a legal grow did I begin to understand some of the disconnect between the stigma of stoners, and their behaviors that irritated me in personal relationship settings, and the TYPES of cannabis that are now available.
While there will always be addicts and addict behaviors of any substance, alcohol, food, sex, gaming, gambling and so on—the “stoner” stereotype is too frequently used as a blanket statement for anyone who imbibes, in the same way that “alcoholic” is a term used for anyone who has more than a couple of drinks a week.
In short, it’s an unfair label, and the misunderstanding has permeated our cultural expectations.
Up until a few years ago marijuana was illegal, so getting the right kind of marijuana wasn’t easy. There was no guarantee you could specify a Sativa or an Indica plant – both of which are vastly different in metabolic impact. You might not be able to verify the THC or CBD levels of a plant, or even get a repeat of the same value metrics from one deal to the next if the grower changed the nitrogen level of the soil, or harvested a week early, etc.
In short, much of what was available was slapdash, spotty, imprecise, and if you were really lucky, not full of chemical pesticides to be inhaled during smoking. And if you were super duper lucky—you didn’t get pinched and go to jail for a gram or two of personal herb in the glove box.
What I’m say is: with the enormous breakthrough in legal recreational marijuana status, AND the regulation in product labeling and quality: we, as a public can now begin the fun part of becoming educated, connoisseurs.
We no longer have to take whatever we can find by whomever is brave/stupid enough to sell it. We no longer have to settle for a CBD when we were aiming for higher THC. We can choose the time of day to imbibe on an Indica when it will be the most beneficial, because you actually KNOW what’s in it and how your body will respond.
Conscious consumers are now able to regulate their dosages for pain management, stress management, anxiety, PTSD, creativity, sexual needs, social enjoyment, and clarity. It’s the tip of the ice berg in a classification of recreational/medical intoxicants that has yet to be fully explored in a societal framework.
And more to my personal enjoyment and excitement: culinary cuisine, and ingredient exploration. The flavor profiles of specific strains and breeds has been an incredible adventure in my kitchen. I’ve been making a number of new recipes involving, funny honey, weed syrups(blackberry and raspberry), honey weed mead (my favorite so far), and so on.
The point of all this is part public apology for not understanding the struggle of imbibers sooner. It’s part apology for my years of unfair judgmentalism. It’s part apology for the vast societal unfairness that’s sent countless people to prison for a crime that turns out, was never really a crime—and I didn’t get that before. I’ve been slow to the realization, but I hope I’ll be forgiven for getting there late rather than never. I hope I can make up for all that by offering some delicious and entertaining weed…
This post is also a coming out. It’s to explain the future change in direction. I hope to be in a position in the not too distant future to be able to pay for my own writing and production costs without relying on donations.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? (Almost as wonderful as the day when my writing pays for itself, right?)
Though we are licensed, we are not yet producing. But we’re putting plans into place and preparing for the adventure of being in the recreational marijuana business.
When I said I’d keep an open mind, this wasn’t what I was expecting…but I have to admit, it’s been so goddamn fun, that I’m grateful on a daily basis that two years ago my business partner shrugged and said, “Cool. We’re in.”
Stay tuned for more…