What makes a criminal? What defines an outlaw? These two terms have similar but very different connotations. Criminals break laws because they hold their purposes higher than the law. Outlaws break laws that are unjust and fight against oppressive systems.
Cannabis created a modern-day Robin Hood story with a dynamic and powerful plant as the main character, supported by a cast of merry men and women. Our culture evolved a means of existing outside a system of unjust law; we built beautiful representations of human effort and intention, manifesting good energy that radiated far and wide in Food Savers and turkey bags.
We are supporters of the counterculture, the independent thinkers; of the manifestation of good energy that comes from consuming cannabis. Tending and stewarding ground so that it becomes more fruitful and bountiful instills a parallel process in the heart and soul of the tender steward. A fruitful bounty pours forth, love, happiness, purpose; the manifestation of loving intention.
As Damian Marley says, “I’m putting in the hard work, and hard workers deserve all their props and perks.” Folks who think cannabis farming is easy should come shuffle five gallon pots, prep beds and pull weeds with us for a few days. The time has come to return the honor and accord to farmers of all stripes (and take stripes off of some of our farmers); this process must begin with cannabis farmers because we have been stripped of so much, defined as criminals and deviants.
Cannabis Farmers: Honorable Outlaws
One of the most magical transmutations of energetics has been the proud Outlaw nature of cannabis culture. We took the negative “criminal” label and worked to uphold our sense of honor, integrity and grounding with positive self-definition. Outlaws must have honor because they work in long-term relationships that produce results but carry great risks.
In Outlaw society, there is no “order” to appeal to, so Outlaws build their networks with common codes and understandings. Big money moves through the cannabis industry, most of it on handshakes between people who have worked together for years but sometimes don’t even know each other’s last names.
The Farmer-Outlaws of craft cannabis culture found that there is deep strength that comes from maintaining a relationship with the land and the crops which it provides. This knowledge of self and farm laid a solid foundation on which to build our argument.
There is an interesting dialectic at work between our ability to now represent ourselves and the heavy-handed and uneven enforcements we’ve faced over the decades of Prohibition. I wonder to myself, would the steel of our strength have been forged without the furnace blast of military force applied to our simple, peace-loving people?
Hemp Production Was Banned to Stimulate Urban Growth
As farmers, we produce a crop that has been revered by humans for eons. In the early American colonies, hemp was a staple crop for farmers, and as recently as the end of WWII, America was known for having the finest hemp cultivars in the world. Deliberate policies by a number of bad historical actors subverted the incredible boon that hemp provides farmers, shifting the balance of power from an Agrarian, land-based populace to an urban class of owners which has now become “the 1%.”
A hundred years ago, farmers purchased few things and produced many. Now, most farmers produce one type of thing and buy every other thing under the sun. Deliberate policies got us here; deliberate policies can get us to a better future that supports stable, happy communities that steward the environment for economic benefits to all. We can produce much good and bounty; farming should yield over time better soil, spirit and soul.
“Cheap” is Far From “Good”
Our cultural and social policies have beaten farmers down, demanding “cheap product” instead of “good food.” The message loud and clear is “cut corners and do anything you can to make it happen as cheap as possible.” We push farmers so hard that most of us can’t make it farming and have to work an off-farm job to support our calling.
It is an honor to stand as a Farmer Representative for Quality; cheap creates things like soil loss, nutrient pollution, and massive corporate farms worked by machines and underpaid workers who are poisoned as they produce “product” that isn’t fit for human consumption.
“Good” creates and sustains small, happy farms worked by happy people. Good is healthy, happy animals expressing their instincts in settings that allow them their natural habits/habitat. Good is quality food and medicine, grown with compost and love by people.
We have a deep cultural understanding of Good; we all have our “Comfort Foods,” we’re “As American as Apple Pie”, a “Meat and Potatoes Culture.” Coupling the Jeffersonian ideals of smallholders and localized production that provided the “Good” things in traditional life with the advances of modern technology applied on small-scales will make our future “Great.”