Being an introverted empath smack in the middle of cannabis legalization is an interesting experience. I am constantly seeking balance between needing to help the problems and needing to retreat to heal from the problems. I can viscerally feel the industry’s growing pains. By Dec 2019 I had many Canna successes, tons of resources, but still had not been paid. I had experienced sabotage, fraud, and even had my life threatened to the point where I had gone into hiding. I was financially, mentally, physically, and spiritually drained by the dog eat dog mentality of Cann-A-balism. I had not been paid in 3 years and I had not had medical care for my spinal cord injury in that same amount of time. I had collapsed. I was hospitalized. I couldn’t walk. The doctors told me I needed to stay until they could get me to a surgeon. I pleaded to go home, knowing I would die waiting around on morphine. Thanks to my all friends ability to help, I was discharged and by Dec 15th 2019 I was home and ready to go to battle. Not the kind of battle I had put me in the hospital. This was the kind of battle that has to be done alone. The battle for self. The battle of healing. I had to find myself again after 6 years of California legalization.
Let me back up a little. Have you ever been involved in cannabis? I have, it has been a part of my whole life in one way or another. I am what they call a “Legacy Operator”. Which basically means I have a lot of experience and credibility when it comes to cannabis. It also means I survived and could be a Vet of the drug war. I have been around the plant since day one, but I am not a vet. I am an active duty General fighting for the integrity my legacy communities gave me. The integrity this plant gives us. There are a lot of us and we have been hard at work. The new cannabis industry is ladened with corruption and cons. The place I grew up relied on a community Code that created transparency, collaboration, sustainability, and a level of empathy for one another. We had an awareness for each other, if your neighbor was busted you were most likely next. So we supported, collaborated, and protected each other. Even if we didn’t especially like each other. In today’s industry we are hungry dogs biting each other while trapped behind a gate that is slowly opening to an unlimited supply of feed bags. That didn’t work on in the cannabis culture. Honor among “thieves” was very real among cannabis legacy cultivators. It was the community Code. Legalization put everyone in a corner snarling. The new, the legacy, even the in betweeners were snarling, taking bites out of each other. I was full of holes from the bites. I was ready to walk away. By Jan 2020 I had resigned from all projects that involved battling with Dogs and was diving back into healing, for myself and my community, leaving the “new industry” behind.
It was Feb 20th, 2020 that I pulled my son from school. The day of our first COVID positive test in Humboldt County. I knew we were going to be impacted. One of the reasons we have such a unique culture and have been able to cultivate cannabis for so many generations is because of our isolation and community intimacy. It is also why communicable diseases can spread like wild fire. My senior year in high school my mother came to me wanting to know exactly how sexually active I was. In 1988 AIDS and Hep C were spreading rapidly in our local communities. The projected outcome at the time was if you were sexually active in our high school you had a 94% chance of having a life changing sexually transmitted disease. Some of our largest graveyards in the area are from when the Spanish flu hit. Around here having neighbor awareness, empathy, and the ability to collaborate, to follow the Code, is a survival tool for more reasons than our cannabis cultivators. It is for our communities as a whole. In Humboldt with COIVD you could see right away that we had a bunch newbies that didn’t understand the key to our survival, they didn’t know the Code. The stores ran out of toilet paper. We had people wishing the vulnerable would just go away. We had people hoarding masks and hand sanitizer. Suddenly it wasn’t just the cannabis industry it was everyone cannibalism!!!!
I was torn again, wanting to help and wanting to hide. I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t mind the isolation. In fact it was exactly what I needed for healing. With my spinal cord injury and autoimmune issues I already knew what it was like to be limited and faced with death. I saw a way to dipped my toes back in on my terms. In a way I would be self-protected from Dogs. It started with my online community, Humboldt Grace: A Cannabis Community Gathering Place. It’s mission is to help build the cannabis industry around the plants values, love and grace. We created a Give and Receive Matchmaking program for masks, food, toilet paper, cash cards, and CBD medicines. We were able to help people by simply connecting the Givers with the Receivers. So many gave, it felt like real community again, like we knew the Code. Within a few months you could see the Code spreading through Facebook groups created to help each other, to encourage each other, to work together. Shoot we were even howling out our windows with strangers across the globe. We were globally becoming empathic to each other.
Then something historical happened in cannabis that shifted my community in a big way. Cannabis became an essential industry. We were looked at for the first time in my lifetime not as drug dealers, not as second class citizens, but as MUCH needed ones! Shoulders started to get a little bigger, hands started coming together again. I could see a pride rising. A pride, I will remind you these canna warriors have never experienced. No one got medals for protecting their communities from their own government! We have lots of post drug war PTSD without the usual government subsidies. The shame one feels when having to hide your life can be unbearable. Suddenly all that was deemed essential. Suddenly we had a community of super heroes. Yes I mean Super Heroes!!! Cannabis legacy cultivators know how to build strong community and self-sustain. The drug War taught us how to create solutions with what we had. We had to quickly figure out solutions to complex high risk problems. Our neighbors were our brothers and sister in arms. COVID made these values, these tools, priceless. It started bringing our community back together. Instead of dividing ourselves by politics we started looking at how much we needed each other to survive. We started remembering the Code. Then May 20,2020 came, and George Floyd gave his life to teach us all. Suddenly social equity was at the for front of the national cannabis conversation. The focus shifted from how to do we race to the finish line, to how do we work together to pull all our brother and sisters through. People nationally started holding hands. We started seeing the world turn to each other looking for solutions. We started seeing collaboration.
I am now a 1000% back in, full of inspiration. I first started working on cannabis legalization not for an industry, but for a community. I did it because I believe in my communities values…the community Code. The understanding that humans must follow natures laws on transparency, collaboration, and empathy. It is how our Redwoods stay so strong. They share an intimate network that works together to stand strong. It is how my community thrived through the drug war. It is what I hope we can sustain through legalization, and it is what the world needs to get through crisis’ like COVID. Cannabis is helping us educate the value of that Code but I believe COVID is helping us remember our Code, our humanity.