.Year in Review: A New Weed World

A promise of justice, but uncertainties for pot’s OGs

On Oct. 6, President Joe Biden made history when he pardoned thousands of Americans convicted of marijuana possession under federal laws. The pardons will help people who have been barred from employment, federal grants and federal housing and those who have been denied admission to colleges.  

Biden also said that the White House would decide whether or not to continue to classify marijuana as a heroin-type Schedule One drug, a legacy of Richard Nixon and the War on Drugs.

The current enforcement of anti-cannabis laws is unacceptable, he suggested. “While white and Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates,” Biden said, “Black and brown people are arrested, prosecuted and convicted at disproportionately higher rates.”

That policy has been called the “New Jim Crow.” In California, Illinois and other states, tens of thousands of marijuana convictions have already been expunged. Still, on the federal level, a new day has finally dawned. I’m celebrating.

Every year for a couple of decades, I grew marijuana without a permit, and wondered why everyone didn’t grow it. Now that I live in an apartment with a small backyard, I understand why many Californians would rather buy weed from a dealer or a dispensary than cultivate and harvest themselves.

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Still, there is the pleasure of growing your own. In four months, sun-stroked female plants can be six feet tall, beautiful to behold and aromatic, too.      

But growing weed takes time, patience, passion and a green thumb. Plus, a thief might rip off the plants as they reach maturity. Also, unless you know the origin of the seeds, and the phenotypes and genotypes, you might find yourself with dope that doesn’t have the desired effect.

These days, sales folk at dispensaries are much savvier about THC, CBD, strains and terpenes than they were a short while ago. They can help buyers find the product that’s right for each individual body and mind.

As a weed reporter, I receive free samples. I try them and like some better than others, tinctures more than gummies. I recommend Care By Design’s potent, fast-acting Full Spectrum Drops, which have 100 mg of CBD and 100 mg of THC. One drop under the tongue will stone you.                                                                                            

Oaky Joe, as he’s known in the trade, gives me four or five joints at a time when he visits. He’s strictly black market. He got his start in the biz by selling joints on urban street corners. Joe tells me, “If someone, say in Santa Cruz or San Francisco, wants to score weed and doesn’t have a connection, they could go to a park or bar where hippies hang out, but that’s dicey. They might be ripped off.”                    

I know Oaky Joe grows without toxic chemicals, and while I’d rather not smoke weed, I’m an “OG,” and old habits die hard. So I go on smoking and not eating or using gummies.   

The State of California aims to abolish the black market and liquidate criminal and outlaw growers, but that won’t happen soon. There’s too much money at stake and growers are unlikely to change soon.                                                                                        

Everyone should have an Oaky Joe in his/her/their life. Joe is a bit of a nutcase, but he genuinely means to help the sick. A loving husband with a Japanese-born wife and their two kids, he has grown weed for decades, and as a grower has practiced civil disobedience Henry David Thoreau style, which means he stood and still stands outside the law, which he thinks is unjust and immoral. I agree.

These days, year-round growers always need and want trimmers. As a trimmer, you have access to quality weed at fair prices. You also might get a contact high when you trim with other trimmers, like my two Mexican-born friends Rosa and Paula. I’d trim with them again and again and again.      

Many if not most of the growers I’ve interviewed, from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara and Santa Rosa, who have permits and who sell to licensed dispensaries in the Golden State, also sell on the black market, or as they call it, “out the back door.”  

Growers and dealers like Joe don’t get out of the biz until they’re forced out by cops, judges or their own aging bodies. A thirty-something-year-old son of a friend is now doing time in a federal prison because he shipped tons of weed out of state and laundered millions of dollars. Crime doesn’t always pay. Pot farmers are still busted.                                                                          

I didn’t grow in 2022. Last season’s weed didn’t look or smell good, and it didn’t get me stoned. I gave most of it away to a friend who helped me manicure the buds, so it was payment for services performed.

Joe grew in 2022, but he tells me, “It’s not fun anymore. This is my last year.” He has been saying that for years, so I don’t believe him. In a way, he’s addicted to growing weed. He adds, “If someone is really desperate for weed, they should get in touch with me, and I’ll hook them up.”

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