Kevin Jodrey is an internationally respected authority on cannabis cultivation and co-founder of The Ganjier. He has over 30 years of experience in the cannabis industry. Kevin’s diverse experiences include having been invited to speak at universities, consulting with TV networks, headline speaking at major cannabis events, consulting with professional cultivators about their farms, consulting with European seed companies, serving as a judge for cannabis competitions, and owning and operating medical dispensaries.
Featured in the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and more articles and radio shows than he can count, Kevin is the most well-known and respected cultivator in Humboldt County, placing him at the epicenter of the modern cannabis movement.
I sat down with him and asked a few questions about the launch of TheGanjier.com, the website in general, and his background.
Q: Are you excited about the launch of TheGanjier.com?
A: Yeah! When I first got into the business, people never wanted to talk about cannabis. People would drive from the Bay Area and SoCal just to consult and chat for a few hours. Finding reliable information, finding the needed experts and specialists, was too difficult. All roads would lead back to me. If people needed an expert for something other than cultivation, they would still come to me to find that expert.
That’s why I’m excited about The Ganjier, and that’s why we’ve made the vision comprehensive. In a single place everyone can have access to the experts that are out in the world. They don’t have to drive hundreds of miles to meet me, just to ask for a referral to one of these experts. It’s 2014, just go to TheGanjier.com and you’ll find who you need.
It’s fascinating to me because I’m going to be a reader, too. Cannabis is so massive in its entirety. No one sees the trillion dollar picture. No leader has stepped up.
The quality of the contributors at The Ganjier is important. The number of people who have so much to say but haven’t had an unrestricted platform is amazing, and the people who’ve had coverage up till now have had too much.
Before, when you were in the cannabis business, you needed to do it all. Cultivation, propagation, distribution, cloning, process… like nine different jobs in the real world. Otherwise professional survival rates were low. If you couldn’t do it all competently, it was hard to stay in business for very long. If you could do it all competently, the burn out rate was tremendous. This limited how much we as an industry could move forward.
Now, you don’t have to do it all yourself anymore. That’s opened the doors for greater specialization and greater innovation.
Q: Of all the things you’ve done in your career, what is one professional accomplishment you are particularly proud of?
A: Serving as an Emerald Cup judge is one of the highlights of my career, especially serving as a judge in 2013, the first year the Emerald Cup was at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The Emerald Cup is the world’s premier organic cannabis competition. The depth of talent and skill that is on display is stunning.
It’s emotional to see the “mom & pop” organic cultivators come out into the open, to leave behind the secrecy of the last 70 years of prohibition, and to receive the social recognition they deserve. These people are all Ganjiers. Their genius and their greatness is equal to that of the best wine producers and craft microbrewers.
Q: Where did the word “Ganjier” come from?
A: One day at Wonderland Nursery we were trying to think of a good word to describe the people involved in cannabis. I came home and talked with my son about it in the kitchen. His first response was “What about Ganjier? Like sommelier for wine.” It was perfect. I loved that it used “ganje” from the original Sanskrit for the cannabis plant.
Q: What makes you a Ganjier?
A: I’ve had a fascination with Cannabis since I was young. I remember reading an academic book for college students about drugs, when I was 10 or so. I didn’t understand all of it, but I did understand that cannabis was very different from the rest of the things in that book. That it didn’t really belong in that book at all. The pictures of the cannabis plant in full flower were beautiful. I grew up in an urban area, and something about the beautiful pictures of cannabis in a field by itself just struck me. It lit a spark.
I joined the Coast Guard and was a diver. Sometimes we engaged in drug interdiction, and I saw more cannabis than most people have ever seen. Once we uncovered a barge with an international ship of 100 tons of finished product. It’s one thing to bust a grow and find 1,000 plants, but it’s another thing to find 200,000 pounds of finished product.
This helped me realized the massive quantity of people consuming cannabis, and that my consumption wasn’t wrong or immoral. Society was wrong for having bad laws that were also immoral. I decided to leave the Coast Guard. The day I left, I started indoor cultivation in California. This would have been around 1988.
I’m a career cannabis cultivator and culturalist. The root of all culture is agriculture. I have 36 years of being involved in the business, but that isn’t what it means to be a Ganjier. It’s the appreciation for the plant and dedication to excellence that matters. We’re all Ganjiers. I was talking with cultivators and they said, “We’re pot growers” and I asked them, “Did you choose that name for yourself?” They said “No.” So we started using Ganjier instead.
Q: Are you a Master Ganjier?
A: No. I am not a master Ganjier. I realized I wasn’t because I don’t know everything there is to know about cannabis. Primarily, I know commercial propagation. Secondarily, I know commercial and artisanal cultivation. It actually made me happy to know I’m not a Master Ganjier. We’re all Ganjiers, we’re all equal, and there is no one in charge.
Q: Are there any Master Ganjiers?
A: I’m not sure our industry has produced a Master Ganjier yet. That’s exciting to me, because it tells me just how much progress we can still make. We have not peaked. We are not at the pinnacle of cannabis knowledge and development. We’re just coming out of the “dark ages” of prohibition. It took centuries for a Michelangelo to emerge after the Dark Ages. The best days of cannabis culture and knowledge are in the future.
What I hope is that we educate people from what we do, but I also hope to learn. I’m still just a neophyte in some aspects. We’re all trying to grab onto the same comet, and if we all do, we can all really take off together.
If we start sharing knowledge now, and all the Ganjiers in the world start coming together, then in the next generation we may see the first Master Ganjier. The world’s first Master Ganjier may not yet have even been born. A few decades from now, when the first Master Ganjiers emerge, we will be at the start of a new cannabis culture renaissance.
Q: What makes cannabis such a special plant?
A: Cannabis is a bridge between diverse people. It unites people with a common experience and a common love for agriculture, cultivation, and beauty. It helps people to connect with each other, and humans have a need to connect. I think it helps people see what is really important. Living a healthy organic lifestyle, growing healthy organic plants, and helping those that are sick and in need, this is the better way to live.
As a grower, I’m a steward of the plant. I work for cannabis. When I realized it’s the most cultivated plant on Earth, I realized I was also just a link in the cultivation chain. People have been cultivating it before me and they’ll be cultivating it after I’m gone. Those that came before me were also Ganjiers. So I wanted to be a good link and focus on sustainable, long-term growth. I’ve never had a desire to be in charge or be a king in the field. I only want to be good at what I do so I can focus on the plant. Even when we compete in cups and are competitive, what we’re really doing is showcasing the glory and beauty of nature.
Q: So, I hear you like kettlebells. How did you get involved with them?
A: I realized at one point that I was no longer the vital young man I used to be. I saw a kettlebell advertisement early on, before most Americans had even heard of them, and ordered one. I did one set and it destroyed me. I hurt so badly afterward, but I didn’t want to give up on it. I knew if I put it in the closet I would never take it out again.
I buckled the kettlebell into the front seat of my car so that I had to see it every day. If someone wanted to roll with me, they’d have to sit in the back seat. They’d ask why, and then I’d have to explain. This went on for about a month! I did that until I was no longer afraid of the kettlebell. Now I love it.
I was one of the early adopters of kettlebells in the U.S. and was hired to launch a weightlifting competition. It was interesting to do something big and exciting in my life that didn’t involve cannabis. I traveled to Europe and Russia, met with sport scientists and world class athletes. I won the U.S. National Weightlifting Championship and the 2012 Kettlebell Club Amateur award. The number of clubs I’ve coached around the country is unreal.
It opened up the athletics door for me. I found a sport my body liked and I liked. I wasn’t very athletic when I was younger, and there weren’t any other sports I was interested in. At one point I was the fifth largest distributor of kettlebells in the U.S. Now I catch competition when I can. I have a four time international champion who puts together my daily training regime.
People in Humboldt knew I was into kettlebells and they kept coming to me to ask for help. So, I started Redwood Kettlebell Club to help everybody who asked. I also lead a free kettlebell program at South Fork High School. Every day from when school got out to about 5, I was there. There were a tremendous amount of kids who didn’t have a place to go. It wasn’t like when I was their age, when school ended you went to work at a job.
Teachers as well as students learned the kettlebell. It was neat to watch students and teachers doing things together, because lifting kettlebells is really a community activity. Even when we do our workouts alone, the whole community is being healthy together.
Not all of them worked out. Some of them would get picked on in other places, so they came and did their homework. They didn’t have to work out. It was protection from bullying. Bullying is a real thing in schools today and is fundamentally wrong. This program exposed people to healthy athletics. Eventually I had to stop the club and school program when I began as cultivation director for the Humboldt Patient Resource Center in Arcata CA, because the commute was so long.
One of my dreams for the future of cannabis is that it will help schools obtain the funding needed to restore athletics & arts programs that have been cut.