When we First Met
The singeing burn in the back of my throat made me cough and cringe, but it was a far cry from the pain I’d sought relief from – a pain you couldn’t see by looking at me, only within me. The burn was good; it reminded me of the cigarettes I’d grown used to using to try and snuff out this feeling. But, standing on my back porch, in consult with the trees, I couldn’t say I’d felt any different. No fireworks, no roller-coaster thrill, no sudden urge to eat brains; they must’ve been full of it because I found nothing in my first minutes with cannabis worth returning to.
I said farewell to my silent companions, concluding I would stick to smoking cigarettes, washed my hands and face to mask its smell and returned to my work.
Sitting at the dinner table, marinating in the work of calculus 3 and matrix algebra, I had a funny feeling. Not the kind where you think you might be sick, but I really felt funny. Everything that entered my mind felt like they were straight from the minds of comic geniuses. No work was getting done that night, perhaps there was something to it, I’d thought. I spent the remaining of my evening playing video games, thinking I’d somehow have better luck there. I didn’t and I spent most the rest of the night laughing at myself and enjoying the experience. It was a moment of joy in my life that I hadn’t felt in years. It felt like Christmas morning again, except the gift was me; it was life.
The day I met cannabis is a time I can hardly forget because it marked a shift in my perspective I’d always been sure would never take place. I’d been warned of its danger by loved ones and I respected their truth in the highest regard. I’d chosen to disregard it today - I didn’t care. I’m not sure what I was looking for as I decided to pick up the discarded bag of what appeared to be grass cuttings; I’d only ever heard stories of the elusive substance. My struggle with loneliness and sadness led me to feel as though the risk wasn’t there. I’d come to learn that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and began my cliched yet unique experience of experimenting with cannabis as a young adult.
A Growing Relationship
Cannabis has remained a strong influence in my life ever since I first met her. I can recall numerous times I’d declare that I’d know it the rest of my life. My enthusiasm and gratitude stem from the challenges that experience with cannabis has helped me to overcome. It has helped me to stop smoking cigarettes, overcome depression, to find sleep, and regulate my mood. It was soon easy to see how it can be described as an addictive substance once the euphoric experience takes place, however the best blessings take place afterward. For me, they follow in the next day when I return to work or struggle with an emotionally taxing task. My patience and perceptiveness begin to have higher thresholds and I take longer to consider the feelings or actions of others. I take the time to realize the smaller things, like the breeze and warm sun on my face, or the fact that my co-worker is having a bad day. Often times these experiences would go unnoticed by me as my mind was focused on less tangible and suspicious topics. Cannabis brought me back to center. It turned me around and let me see what I’d been missing.
“One of the greatest gifts of cannabis is that she allows us to step off to the side, literally and symbolically, and see things differently for a while. This is called liminal time, or liminal space, from the notion of limen as threshold, or the place where one stands between the known places. Here one takes a time out, just musing on the sidelines of quotidian life….
That is one of the gifts that cannabis offers. To be a muse for those of us who wish to contemplate and understand, or perhaps spend a little time just appreciating the mystery of it all.”
(Cannabis and Spirituality, An Explorer’s Guide to an Ancient Plant Spirit Ally, by Stephen Gray, Park Street Press, 2017, pg 28)
My connection to cannabis had been profound and it has only grown deeper as I return to it. Sometimes I’d seek its company for the euphoric experience, but recently seeking balance has afforded me insight unto myself and my relationship with cannabis. I realized I functioned better when I didn’t over consume cannabis, and I began to appreciate the days I didn’t consume it. My experiences ultimately led to a passion to learn more by cultivating it, teach what I learn, and help to correct inaccuracies and misconceptions that surround it. The passion to learn more about the plant burned within me like an inferno. The feeling often returns to me when I meet a new spirit in a cultivar, more commonly known as a strain, or when I experience a moment of success. This passion continues in my breeding projects and mission because I have experienced its benefits and I want to return the gifts of the plant to others. I believe that the best gifts cannabis has to offer are those that do not revolve its medical or recreation use, but instead in the use of the plant to reverse the damages to the environment, and replace them with sustainable methods and resources that can be found within the hemp plant.
Hemp Then and Now
Hemp in Colonial Times
Hemp cultivation had been a staple of colonial agriculture, so much so that cultivators were actually penalized for not growing the crop. This changed drastically when the plant started to incur taxes for its cultivation following the “reefer madness” propaganda scheme that waged war on it and its users. The hemp grown in colonial times, when compared to what is called “hemp” today, is strikingly different. Hemp that had been cultivated in colonial times had nearly zero percent THC or CBD. Both of these chemicals that are produced by the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids, have origins in species that were bred specifically for these characteristics in order for their use in spiritual and medicinal practices. The endocannabinoid system, which was discovered recently, discovered to be the pathway by which cannabis has the effects on the user. Colonial cannabis had such low presence of these cannabinoids in them that very little effect if any that was palpable by its users.
Hemp Cultivation Today
Through the use and promotion of modern hemp I believe more people are becoming aware of the spirit of cannabis in a controlled manner that will lead to increased support of cannabis and exciting innovations in the hemp industry. Additionally, hemp will allow us to transition from methods that are damaging to our environment, such as plastic and fossil fuels, It can help us transition to the use of more sustainable resources and practices that will be beneficial and useful to heal our planet. Hemp technologies require a great deal of effort and resources to deliver a product at this time due to the methods with which it is provided and the restrictions that have been placed on itI believe an ideal hemp company is one that requires a low carbon footprint, the ethical and eco-friendly production and distribution of goods. Because of the change in legislature, there is going to be unprecedented opportunity in Texas to establish hemp businesses. My concern is that a majority of the entrants to the market will enter from other states to expand or for the primary reason of making a profit. I believe that the ownership and regulation of hemp businesses is a major responsibility in the current climate. Hemp offers a great deal of opportunity to bring new technologies and products to the public that can aid in reversing pollution and climate change, however if it isn’t done right, the cultivation of the plant itself can undo much of those works. Data has shown that the indoor cultivation of cannabis requires a great deal of energy; over 1% of the entire US energy, approximate 40.3 million kilowatts per year,] are consumed by cultivators in the country. Additionally, a great deal of them use the application of greenhouse gases to increase yields. This practice and others have serious implications for the future of the commercial hemp and cannabis markets and their energy usage moving forward.
A Look Into Texas' Future with Cannabis
This May Texas passed HB 1325 which would make the cultivation, regulation and sale of hemp products legal in the state. This bill was passed at a time when the medical cannabis market is somewhat vulnerable due to the signing of the 2018 farm bill into law. Though there were multiple bills aimed to expand the medical cannabis market submitted for consideration in the house and senate, there were many not signed into law. The medical cannabis industry did see some advances in legislature that allows more patients to have more access to medical cannabis, however with advancement of HB 1325, it creates an interesting problem. The medical cannabis in Texas allows for no more than 0.5% THC in all of their cannabis products when most other states where recreational or medical cannabis is legal allow for levels to be between 9 and 99%. Hemp is federally defined as a plant of the Cannabis Sativa species with a THC concentration less than 0.3% and is now federally legal to sell in stores in accordance with the 2018 farm bill.
This means that the medical cannabis that requires a prescription to obtain and is comparatively more expensive than common CBD oils has only 0.2% more THC than the same CBD products you can easily find and buy on the shelves of CVS pharmacy. This detail when added to the barriers of access to medical cannabis in Texas means that patients will be more likely to buy a product that is regulated, less expensive and more easily accessible. The medical cannabis market in Texas is sure to see some more struggles before growing to the heights observed in states where it is better supported by state laws, however there remains much opportunity to have success in hemp and build preparedness for when the Lone Star State fully embraces cannabis.
Hemp can and should have a presence in the market that promotes the sustainable use of resources and the use of practices that minimizes damages to our planet and I believe that the planet can best be helped in healing by the general public that interacts with her every day.
From the coffee we choose to drink to the clothes we choose to buy or homes we choose to build, hemp offers opportunities to reverse or minimize the impact we our technologies have had on the planet that have led to the imbalances we are seeing today and will continue to see in the future. I am committing myself today and every day forward to promote and make changes with the help of the hemp plant will focus on making advances to make these, and other benefits of its use possible. It is our sincere hope that the majority of the public will align in our efforts to curb our negative impacts on the planet, learn to utilized improved methods, and embrace the hemp plant for its ability to help us in healing our planet to allow it to provide healthy lives to those that come after us.