We stand at the dawn of a new era that reminds me of the physical and spiritual qualities that created America. The revitalization of small-scale, localized production is underway. The populace awakens from deep infatuation with petroleum-based mechanization as we witness a cultural rebirth. A new valuation of food, farmers, communities and the environment has recreated the original American Ethos. This is evidenced in the growth of farmers’ markets, CSAs and various other systems of decentralized production that have sprung up to provide quality, localized commodities.
A reinvigoration of rural America has the potential to be elegantly fostered by the triumphant reemergence of the various forms of the cannabis plant as a consummate and vastly productive resource. This has been prototyped in Northern California, a land that is rugged, dry and has seen many of its natural processes denigrated by previous large-scale industries.
The farmer breathes loving intention into what is otherwise a parcel of land. My parents homesteaded a rugged piece of land that had been logged and ranched heavily. Previous occupants in the 1940s had failed to make a go of it because the soil was too poor and the gophers voracious. Northern California was once tall timber and green, perennial summer plants with deep taproots. But land-use policies removed the original timber and then grazed the hills, perpetuating annual grasses that die and turn brown in the summertime.
Cannabis Remained as Other Industries Left the Emerald Triangle
The Emerald Triangle is a region that has seen various boom-and-bust cycles. Mining, timber, ranching — each of these industries has taken a toll on the North Coast. Over the last decades, cannabis has supported a re-invigoration of decimated timber economies, creating a viable means of employment for an entire culture. I can speak from experience that many good things — tree plantings, orchards, gardens, flowers, ponds and tanks — in the area are reincarnations of the cannabis plant, translated through money and human intention into productive beauty.
Cannabis farming developed as a decentralized, highly specialized profession that has provided meaningful employment and supported a local economy of skilled craftspeople, tradespeople, carpenters, builders, stonemasons, shopkeepers, bankers, and more. In the wake of the collapse of the timber industry, cannabis created a replicable production model that can save rural America by supporting existing farmers and creating new ones, providing the economic stimulus that builds the houses, buys the pickups and puts the people back on the land. Further, this stimulus would add tax revenues to government rather than require them.
Back-to-the-Land Movement Preserved Cannabis/Hemp Heritage
Let’s Share the Knowledge Now
It is impossible to legislate morality but quite effective to incentive compliance.
There is an established system of back-to-the-land homesteads that exist in the hills of Northern California, and it was created by a bootstrap local economy that provided work for the people through the means of a small-farm cash crop. This harkens directly to the founding of our country: I assert my stance as a true patriot in production of the plants and animals that thrive on my farm.
For perspective, it’s worth noting that law enforcement pressure kept there from being few successful heritage cannabis farms larger than 2 acres. If we use the license process for cannabis cultivation to ensure ecologically sound best management practices, we give ourselves the ability as a culture to regulate gross polluters. Linking access to a legitimate cannabis market with sound environmental and agricultural practices, we foster compliance through economic incentives. It is impossible to legislate morality but quite effective to incentive compliance.
Though much of our traditional cannabis and hemp knowledge has been bred out of us, pockets of deep culture remain. As cannabis (hemp and sensimilla) return to their appropriate places as some of our most treasured, revered species of cultivated plants. As a cannabis people, if we serve as teachers and share the wealth of knowledge and the spirituality of the good energy that we’ve accumulated over the last decades. We have a duty to the culture we’ve created under prohibition to make sure that it isn’t subsumed by money-hungry corporate sharks who don’t even smoke weed.
It is time to stand for the good energy and represent a holistic future for American farmers supported by the traditional, cultural pockets of cultivation. As originators in the industry, our place remains secure by building the bridges and coalitions to shape policy for the future and guide everyone towards production of quality that is up to the standards we’ve created.
Cannabis cultivation cultures have a tremendous quid-pro-quo opportunity with more conventional farmers throughout the country. We teach them how to cultivate cannabis, they provide us as a fundamentally marginalized populace the political traction we need to ensure a heritage-based cannabis industry.