We who lived through the 1970s Cannabis Prohibition remember without a speck of fondness the scary moments arising from encounters with police and other authoritarians who had no idea what a boon to humankind was the Cannabis plant.
If you were caught with a film can containing a bud, you could lose your home, your career, your reputation. Smoking or imbibing Cannabis had to be kept tightly under wraps. We lived in a Green Closet with clowns to the left of us, and jokers to the right.
Before we met, my partner cultivated buds in the 1970’s. First he grew some hefty plants in his father’s backyard on an urban San Diego slope. When he met with success he decided to try a larger crop. Thus began his search for a perfect plot of land out in the SoCal wilderness with a lot of sunshine and a water source.
He and his buddy found a patch of land out in Mesa Grande where the two drove a couple of times a week to care for their crop and divert water from a nearby stream. That year yielded a fine crop of 1978 Nectarball – so named because of the honey-like resins on rounded flowers.
This homegrown cultivar – a blend of Afghani Indica and Mexican sativa, became the namesake of his Nectarball Collection.
Millennials and the generations that come later will hopefully never have to experience the cold sweat feeling of police lights in your rearview mirror after you have just smoked a bowl of righteous herb. We still both suffer from a minor case of PTSD – because we had to hide who we were from just about everybody in our lives. Only the most trustworthy friends or family knew of our relationship with Cannabis.
We look forward to the day when it will be legal all around the world to cultivate your own medicine in your own backyard. We have no doubt that the Cannabis plant has been orchestrating that dream this whole time.
I have long thought that Cannabis and Mountain Biking were perhaps made for each other. My partner and I have been mountain bikers since we first discovered the sport in 1986. We married on our mountain bikes in 1987 in the Southern California wilderness and we produced the world’s first instructional mountain biking video in 1987.
We raced as seriously as a couple of amateurs could race in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I placed first in a few races simply because the women’s field was so small. And when we were racing, we were in training. And that meant no beers and no marijuana.
A hiatus on Cannabis. How silly was that. Look at Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Ross Rebagliati and Jamie Anderson, four Olympian gold-medalists who all enjoy Cannabis. Knowing what we do now about the Endocannabinoid System and the way the plant interacts with our cell structure, Cannabis would have certainly helped with all the aches and pains acquired from racing hard and at times crashing and literally shredding muscles and skin.
After the end of the race, it was a different story. Revelry ensued with our fellow mountain bikers and we would celebrate our successes or lick our wounds by sharing a doobie and a mug of beer. Thomas Jefferson once opined that beer and wine were the great social lubricants. I don’t think that it would be a stretch to think that Jefferson may also have imbibed some of the flowers from his hemp crop. It’s not been proven, but it’s not been disproven, either.
We have met and hung out with a few of the pioneers of Mountain Biking and smoked a bowl or two with them. Mountain biking and Cannabis have always been great buddies (pun intended).
The 1970’s yielded some interesting cultivars despite the attacks on Cannabis by our own government, specifically President Dick Nixon whose war on drugs (really it was a war on hippies and people of color) resulted in demonizing a plant, and adding it to a list of Schedule 1 drugs that were considered dangerous.
Meanwhile, Cannabis aficionados cultivated some classics including Acapulco Gold, Columbian Gold, Panama Red and Thai Stick, all of which still exist in the Nectarball Collection, the largest and oldest known collection of flowers.
We interviewed the esteemed Tommy Chong in his beautiful Pacific Palisades home for our documentary, “Cannabis Tales from the Nectarball Collection.”
He is as kind and humble as he appears in all those Cheech & Chong movies, and he regaled us with some great stories of his Canadian childhood, how he first became acquainted with Cannabis, his early musical career, and how Cheech & Chong came to be.
What was it like when he took his first toke?
Tommy: “My first marijuana trip was, I was 17 years old. I was in a jazz club called the a Flat Fifth and this Chinese bass player came back from LA and he had two gifts for me. He had a Lenny Bruce record and a joint and he handed me the Lenny Bruce and the joint and I put the joint in my pocket. And so he lit up his other joint that he had from his private stash. And that was the first toke I’ve ever had in my life. And I can tell you, it changed my life. It really did. The music that was playing, I heard music for the first time when I was high. It was an Ornette Coleman song called lonely woman. I’ve looked it up and it’s still incredible and when I heard that song being played when I was high on pot, I could literally see the lonely woman sitting in a hotel room looking out the window.”
There’s more but you’ll have to find out when you see the documentary.
When will it be finished?
We are still collecting interviews, mostly from medical practitioners, Cannabis nurses and people whose health has improved from the use of Cannabis. If you have a great Cannabis Tale and are interested in sharing it with us, and possibly with the world, then email us at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, here is a live recording I found on Youtube, Ornette Coleman performing “Lonely Woman.”
The 2017 Emerald Cup was an amazing venue. Farmers, distributors, entrepreneurs and aficionados all gathered to learn and share information about their favorite plant – Cannabis. What better way to enjoy the holiday season than with the fresh piney-scents of sweet pungent flowers in the air?
It was my first experience with people speaking about Cannabis freely in a gargantuan space filled with all iterations of the plant – dabs, flowers, salves, ointments, etc. The fairgrounds were packed to the rafters with all things Cannabis. It was frankly very stupefying, after all the decades I have had to look over my shoulder before whispering to only people I trusted about the topic of marijuana.
There was this one time in the 1980s when I was sitting on the local beach wall smoking a pipette when a bicycle cop busted me and put me in handcuffs. He rifled through my bag and found a film cannister with a bud in it. I tossed the pipette – a glass tube – onto the sand where try as he might, the cop could not find it. But that one bud earned me a $100 fine (that’s like $1,000 in today’s currency), derision from a “to-protect-and-serve” public servant, and a splash of PTSD.
So the idea of cruising through smoke-filled halls with wall-to-wall tables of goodies for three days was a dream come true.
San Bernardino’s High Times Cannabis Cup this year was fraught with people shooting themselves in the foot. First the City Council deemed that there would be no commerce at the show. They made their pronouncement three days prior to the show’s opening. This, in turn, scared off several sponsors and a whole lot of fair-goers. Money had to be refunded, apologies made, and yet the show did go on.
Selfishly speaking, it was like a dream for those of us who did attend. No crowds to elbow through, step-right-up advantages at all the dab and toker booths and strict adherence to sharing gigantic doobies with happy compatriots at 4:20PM. And by the way, commerce occurred anyway.
Our mission there was to collect interviews of movers and shakers in the Cannabis industry. We were happy to speak with Cannabis Evangelist, Bong Appetit’s Jason Pinsky, who consented to be interviewed with the caveat that he would interview us first. We are used to being behind the camera so this was a very interesting premise. Those who know Jason are familiar with his whimsical, playful nature. Maybe someday he will share that footage with the Cannabis world.
We are grateful to High Times and their stellar staff (including Jon and Danny) who paved the way for us to shoot our interviews, and enjoy all the amenities of their Cannabis Cup. We loved the weather, the people and the education. We relished the fares of the food trucks. We appreciated the rap artist headliners. We rode the ferris wheel. We came, we saw and we “honkered.” (If you get my “drift.”)
Maybe next year the San Bernardino City Council will have their act together and partake of the economic boon known as Cannabis.
Here’s a little shout-out video we produced, shot and edited, with some of the Cannabis Luminaries who attended the High Times Cannabis Cup:
If there were a natural resource that could be used in thousands of products ranging from varnish to lace, and this resource could dispel our reliance on trees for paper, wouldn’t that be good?
If this resource were renewable, if it could quench our need for hundreds of imported products and provide jobs for thousands of Americans, then wouldn’t that be good?
This resource exists! It is one of the hardiest and most versatile of all plants, and it has been cultivated for over 6,000 years. It is known as hemp.
Hemp Goes Way Back
In 1492, the sails and rigging on Columbus’s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were made from hemp. In 1776, the Continental Congress drafted the Constitution and Declaration of Independence on paper made from hemp. Later, during the 1800s, the covers of wagons carrying intrepid colonists westward ho would be made from hemp.
When Rudolph Diesel invented his famous engine in 1896, he and most engineers back then figured the diesel would run on fuels superior to petroleum, made from vegetable and seed oils; hemp was the most efficient.
In the 1930s the Ford Motor Company operated a successful biomass conversion plant that included hemp. About that time, a machine to strip the outer fibers of the hemp plant appeared on the market, called a decorticator. It could turn hemp into paper and fabrics quickly and cheaply. Hemp paper was recognized as superior to wood paper.
Henry Ford Was On To Something….
In 1941, fulfilling a desire to “grow automobiles from the soil,” Henry Ford unveiled a plastic car. Hemp was a primary ingredient. The car was a thousand pounds lighter than a comparable steel car, and was reputed to withstand a blow ten times as great as steel without denting.
So, what happened? In an effort to discover why Ford had steered away from plastic cars, and what had caused hemp’s fall from grace, I phoned my parents in Michigan. Both of them had been born in Detroit in the 1920’s, so they were right at the epi-center of the auto industry when the plastic car was unveiled and hemp was still a household item.
My mother said that the big industries had coalesced to fight off an innovation that might deal them a death blow in the future. They easily quashed a fledgling industry that posed a threat to their formidable profits.
Well, my mother was right. While surfing the Web, I found the following passage:
“Hemp, once the mainstay of American agriculture, became a threat to a handful of corporate giants. To stifle the commercial threat that hemp posed to timber interests, William Randolph Hearst began referring to hemp in his newspapers, by its Spanish name, “marijuana.” This did two things: it associated the plant with Mexicans and played on racist fears, and it misled the public into thinking that marijuana and hemp were different plants.
“Nobody was afraid of hemp — it had been cultivated and processed into usable goods, and consumed as medicine, and burned in oil lamps, for hundreds of years. But after a campaign to discredit hemp in the Hearst newspapers, Americans became afraid of something called marijuana.”
Today, many people still harbor the fear. We fear what we do not understand.
The Wonders of Hemp
Hemp is a cheap, clean and quickly renewable source for paper, canvas, rope, textiles, clothing, medicine, food, fuel, paint, varnish, building materials and plastic.
A single acre of hemp can produce the same amount of paper as four acres of trees. Trees take 20 years to harvest while hemp takes a single season. In warm climates hemp can be harvested two or even three times a year. It also grows in bad soil and restores the nutrients.
Hemp is softer, warmer and more water-absorbant than cotton, has three times the tensile strength of cotton, and is more durable than cotton. By the way, about 50% of chemicals used in American agriculture today are for growing cotton. Hemp growing requires no chemicals and has few weed or insect enemies.
Hemp seed can be ground up into flour. With its high nutritional value and short growing cycle, it could serve as a food source for the masses in the near future as world food sources diminish.
It is estimated that methane and methanol production alone from hemp grown as biomass could replace 90% of the world’s energy needs. The vegetable source is renewable, cheap and clean, while we all know the petroleum and coal sources are limited, expensive and dirty. By the way, many of today’s race cars run on methanol.
How can a plant with so many beneficial uses to mankind be bad? Because the blossom of the female hemp plant contains a narcotic. The irony is that their fear of that benign drug caused our forebears to trade off a non-toxic resource for a myriad of industries that have polluted our air and water, pillaged our planet and executed crimes on humanity that I believe are far worse than the effects of an herb!
We can keep striding down the path of destruction with those whose voracious greed has devoured so many irreplaceable resources. If a plant could single-handedly heal our world, it is hemp. A gift from Mother Earth. Certainly nothing to fear.