Summer of Love: Ohio Legalization, Drug Testing, Rogue DEA

It’s officially mid-September and most of us are looking back on a long, dry (or wet) summer filled with good cannabis medicine and memories of having shared it with friends.

So what were the major events or announcements of the summer of 2015? How did medical and recreational cannabis consumers both make advances and suffer setbacks during a summer that continued one of the worse droughts the western part of the nation has ever experienced?


Ohio Leads Red State Legalization

First, Ohio’s privately backed marijuana legalization voter initiative, ResponsibleOhio, will appear on the November ballot as Issue 3. Both proponents and detractors are currently haggling over the exact language that will appear at the voting booth, noting that a tone that leans one way or the other could sway the election—especially in an off-off year in which there are no major federal or state offices up for grabs.

ResponsibleOhio offers the Buckeye State’s patients and tokers the appeal of legal purchase, possession, and consumption, and would even allow those willing to pay a $50 annual fee and be registered in a database (that may or may not find its way to the DEA) to grow up to four mature plants.

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Ohioans who have experienced arrest or incarceration due to possession of relatively small quantities of cannabis can empathize with the need to fully decriminalize the herb for use by both recreational and medical users. The state will save millions in law enforcement and judicial system expenses if legalization occurs and a network of cultivation and manufacturing facilities, dispensaries, and retail outlets appears to satisfy consumer demand and push the black market and Mexican cartels out of many communities.

And therein lies the catch: While Ohio’s highly regulated system would permit up to 1,100 manufacturing facilities and retail outlets to be created, it would limit the number of cultivation facilities to only 10 pre-designated locations throughout the state. These facilities would be owned by the 10 investors who currently compose the ResponsibleOhio PAC and investment group.

Should Ohio’s patients and smokers take the bait, supporting a system that some label a “cartel” and others agree is an oligopoly? (Technically, it isn’t a monopoly because more than one company would control production.) Helping thousands of pot-loving citizens forego the embarrassment and expense of a drug bust and possible jail time is certainly a good thing.

But what about Ohio’s farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs? You know, the mom and pop operations. While it can be argued that inclusion of such small businesses may introduce concerns for product quality and customer service, one thing is certain: Ohioans would suffer higher prices and more limited selection with an arbitrary cap on production facilities at only 10. It’s certainly not a “free market” approach.

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Despite recently obtaining enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, ResponsibleOhio still has an uphill battle. Opponents of both legalized cannabis and corporate monopolies in the state legislature recently introduced a bill that would stop ResponsibleOhio in its tracks. If the bill passes, it would nullify ResponsibleOhio’s effort.

One can reasonably ask, what if both cannabis legalization and the anti-monopoly bill pass? Normally, the bill receiving a larger number of votes would take precedence. However, because of the specific language of each of these bills, the anti-monopoly law would take effect immediately, whereas cannabis would not become legalized until 30 days following the election, on December 3.

The “in force” status of the anti-monopoly law would prevent the ResponsibleOhio effort, regardless of how many votes it receives, from ever going into effect. While some might call this a dirty trick and others will label it business-as-usual in politics, it’s easy to understand how the stakeholders in ResponsibleOhio might feel a bit chapped if each has invested nearly $4 million to be on the losing end of a political pissing match.


Employees Get Help & Harm

In other news, employees experienced both a slap and a helping hand from state governments this summer. In Colorado, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a patient who worked for Dish Network could be fired after testing positive for cannabis—despite the fact that he was a registered medical patient in the state.

The logic of the justices? The fact that the act of consuming cannabis is legal in the state of Colorado, but illegal at the federal level. To defend the behavior, the Court determined that the act must be legal at both the state and federal level. The employer, Dish Network, was therefore acting legally in firing an employee for violating a federal law. Despite the fact that the employee is restricted to a wheelchair, never consumed on the job, and always performed satisfactorily.

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In Washington, D.C., however, patients and recreational smokers got a break when the District passed a law prohibiting employers within its borders from drug testing job applicants and employees. Their logic was simple (and should have been embraced by the prohibitionist justices on the Colorado Supreme Court): If it’s legal to cultivate, possess, and consume an herb, it’s illogical to then penalize or prosecute those same legal activities.

Hopefully Colorado’s legislature or a voter referendum will emerge that directly prohibits cannabis testing on the part of companies or government agencies. Anywhere that medical or recreational consumption is legalized, it only makes sense to also prohibit testing for that behavior.

A recent Court of Appeals ruling in Arizona had made use of the smell of cannabis prohibited as probable cause during police stops, arrests, or investigations.

The court based its decision on the fact that legitimate medical marijuana patients would be deemed “second-class citizens,” “losing their rights to privacy and security, including privacy within their own homes.”

Judge Peter Eckerstrom, writing for the majority, said:

“Medical marijuana use pursuant to [Arizona Medical Marijuana Act] is lawful under Arizona law. Therefore its scent alone does not disclose whether a crime has occurred.”


Federal-Level Shenanigans

Most of the progress being made in the medical and recreational legalization movements has occurred at the state level. While favorable and progressive legislation continues to be introduced in Congress—often with bipartisan support, as is the case with the Rand Paul-sponsored CARERS Act—there’s also plenty of bad news coming out of Washington.

First, Congress tempted cannapreneurs and business owners with the prospect of an amendment that would grant a federal blessing to merchant banking services for the cannabis industry. Unfortunately, the amendment never got out of a committee run by a conservative Republican.

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Without robust merchant banking services, the cannabis cultivation and retail markets will remain the red headed stepchild of the business world. Working almost exclusively in cash (and paying vendors and others in money orders) is not only a ridiculously 20th century hassle, but also dangerous. Cultivators and dispensary owners have enough security headaches, given the value of their product, without having to worry about the theft of their cash.

Congress has also failed to pass any legislation that helps military veterans with PTSD get treatment with medical cannabis. While advocacy groups promote the fact that at least 22 veterans commit suicide each day—many of whom are suffering from severe PTSD and other anxiety disorders—the nation’s leaders are dragging their heels.

There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that cannabis is one of the most therapeutic treatments for veterans who have suffered from severe trauma and have returned to the civilian world. While war veterans both suffer and die, senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle continue to bury their heads in 20th century ideology and an anti-progressive mindset.

Another blow for PTSD: On July 15, the Colorado Board of Health voted 6-2 against including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on the list of medical conditions recognized by the state’s medical cannabis program.

Other federal-level shakeups included the firing/resignation of former DEA chief Michele Leonhart, mostly over the Mexican cartel-funded prostitutes who were cavorting with DEA agents in Columbia—not her prohibitionist zeal for ignoring the medical benefits of cannabis and prosecuting growers, patients, and dispensaries.  Of course, a vote of “no confidence” by 20 lawmakers on the House Oversight committee certainly didn’t help Ms. Leonhart’s chances of surviving in the organization.

The new DEA chief, Chuck Rosenberg, made headlines in early August when he admitted that heroin is more dangerous than cannabis—and then promptly put his foot in his mouth by saying that he wasn’t an expert on the topic. Thousands of cannabis activists world-wide cried foul, asking “Don’t we want drug experts running our Drug Enforcement Administration?”

Speaking of the DEA, which falls under the Department of Justice, two Representatives from California, Democrat Sam Farr and Republican Dana Rohrabacher, lashed out at former Attorney General Eric Holder with a letter in April, basically asking why the hell the DEA was still investing federal tax dollars in going after individuals and businesses in states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis.

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According to the Justice Department, the law prevents it “from impeding the ability of States to carry out their medical marijuana laws, not from taking actions against particular individuals or entities, even if they are acting compliant with State law.”

However, this clearly isn’t the spirit of the law. In April, Rohrabacher and Farr sent a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder to clarify their position and the intent of the law. “As the authors of the provision in question, we write to inform you that this interpretation of our amendment is emphatically wrong.”

The new Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, has yet to speak up regarding the DEA’s role in states that have legalized cannabis and where, culturally, it is a common and accepted medical therapy or recreational activity. How will she respond to Reps Farr and Rohrabacher?

With the DEA basically telling members of Congress that it reports to a higher authority (called the Controlled Substances Act) and the Schedule I status of cannabis, Lynch will inevitably be pressured to take action or speak up on the topic and address the concerns of representatives from the most populated state in the nation. Farr and Rohrabacher will no doubt pressure her on the issue that the DEA is, basically, breaking the law when it hassles patients or dispensaries in states like California, Colorado, and Washington.


States Push to Eliminate Federal Interference

In early August, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) approved a resolution asking Congress that federal laws “be amended to explicitly allow states to set their own marijuana and hemp policies without federal interference.”

With efforts like the CARERS Act in Congress getting little traction (despite some big name backing from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul), progressive state legislatures are asking the feds to make it official. Essentially, state governments are asking Congress to officially step back from any interference with state laws intended to legalize cannabis and provide safe access for both patients and recreational users.

Of course, with progressive states pestering the feds for true independence when it comes to the legalization and regulation of cannabis and a thriving cannabis marketplace, there are also the Luddite states. New York, for example, over the summer chose only five companies to win lucrative cultivation permits to build large facilities in the state. The Empire State’s medical program is so restricted, however, that many observers and advocates claim it will be nearly worthless.

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Meanwhile, both Kansas and Oklahoma sued Colorado back in the spring, claiming that its legalization will result in plenty of cannabis product making its way across state borders. Colorado responded by saying that Kansas and Oklahoma are free to also legalize, obliterating cartel control and black markets in both states and, with it, any fear that illegal contraband is crossing over their borders.

The two states are also suing the federal government on the grounds that the lazy feds are being negligent by allowing states like Colorado and Oregon to legalize and regulate a thriving and rapidly growing cannabis market. Of course, it’s a market that caters to the desires of consumers and contributes tens of millions of dollars in tax dollars to the school system. It also results in decreased crime rates, lower teenage usage levels, and fewer traffic fatalities (going counter to prohibitionist predictions).


That’s enough for this blog post. Next week, I’ll tackle the dearth of cannabis research and how other federal shenanigans, including the sluggish progress of the CARERS Act, has maintained the Schedule I status of cannabis and prevented any significant research or human trials into its efficacy in the United States.


Gooey Rabinski is a counterculture writer who has contributed to magazines such as HBK11RenderHigh Times, Cannabis CultureSKUNK, HeadsWeed World, and Cannabis Health Journal. He is currently a contributing writer at Whaxy and the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinsk

The Culture High: Ignorance, Inc.

I recently watched a very interesting documentary on Netflix entitled The Culture High. While it seemed to center on the issue of marijuana legalization, it wasn’t your average documentary.

The film spent a significant percentage of its two interview-packed hours digging into the mechanism behind prohibition, including government lobbying, the pharmaceutical industry, and influence peddling.

This innovative documentary also carefully examines how the media deals with all of this, intelligently pointing out that big media is like big oil: In most respects, it’s just another corporation. As such, the media primarily serves its shareholders and stakeholders—not its consumers (its customers, after all, are advertisers; confuse the two at your own peril).

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If you decide to give two hours of your life to this innovative and thought-provoking documentary directed by Brett Harvey—which features exclusive interviews with everyone from Sir Richard Branson to rap artist Snoop Dogg to Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Lester Grinspoon—there’s one inevitable takeaway: We are a dualistic society with false perceptions. White hats versus black hats. The good guys versus the bad. Republicans against Democrats. Liberals pitted against conservatives. Sounds a tad overly simplistic, doesn’t it?

If you think so, you’re right. In fact, it’s so simplistic as to be false. Which means that many of your beliefs are based on bullshit. Sorry. I wasn’t trying to piss in your Cheerios today. Just thought you might want a reality-based discontent instead of a fallacious satisfaction. If not, my bad.

Screw the Facts

The Culture High drove home the point that we live in a culture of misinformation, disinformation, and intimidation. And who loses in this scenario? Typically, the facts. This was epitomized by The Culture High‘s coverage of how Professor David Nutt, a psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist in the United Kingdom, was fired for being good at his job.

When acting as the government advisor for the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs, Professor Nutt conducted a study that reported that the most harmful drug was alcohol and that cannabis was much less detrimental to individual health and society overall. “I thought I was being encouraged to tell the scientific truth. And then, suddenly, one afternoon, I got a phone call saying, effectively, you gotta resign.”

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Corporations and government often purposefully boil down issues to their base elements—typically losing accuracy, context, and intelligence—and then present an overly simplified version of issues to the media and, thus, the masses. I often tell my teenage children that there’s rarely any black or white, but a thousand shades of grey. Think about that.

It’s not two categories. Two categories is a myth, a childish encapsulation of a false reality. Instead, it’s a thousand nuanced layers. It’s complicated, whether we like it or not.

Those not willing to plug in their brains will never see reality. But our brains don’t like a thousand nuanced layers. And why would they? Complexity hurts. It takes time. We must expend resources and brain energy to survey, analyze, and understand the complexity. Those thousand shades of grey don’t sort themselves, after all.

Maybe, however, this is an approach we should all take. Regardless of how we do it or the amount of time it takes, we all need to get beyond the ignorant duality of a culture and a corporate media that attempts to limit our brains to being low-level storage devices, not processing chips.

We’re supposed to ferret away sound bites and headlines, reserving them for election day or our time at the supermarket or when surfing Amazon.com. But we’re not supposed to read between the lines. We’re not supposed to question authority, do our own research, think for ourselves, or form our own answers.

Do Yourself a Favor

Do yourself a favor. Take two hours of your life and watch The Culture High this weekend. In many respects, it has little to do with medical marijuana or the legalization of cannabis. At a higher level (sorry), it’s about unplugging from the mindless drone of corporate media and shallow politics. It’s about thinking for yourself.

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I’m not going to tell you to support medical marijuana. I wrote Understand Medical Marijuana; of course I’m pro medpot. But I will encourage you to think for yourself. Don’t mindlessly ingest and shit out anything you hear on Huffington Post or Fox News or MSNBC or anywhere. Think. For. Yourself.

And if you’re not interested in thinking for yourself, well…it makes me wish I’d gone into marketing or politics and embraced the dark side. ‘Cause you’d be the first prey I’d target.


HBK11RenderGooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle and an active freelance writer.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey Interviews: David Gans

Endarkened forces are bearing down
On us unconforming souls
Waving flags and bashing fags
And burning truth like coal.

             Lyrics from It’s Gonna Get Better by David Gans


You may or may not have heard of David Gans. If you’re of a progressive mindset, don’t trust your government, believe in enlightened approaches to social justice, think romance is often a comical game, and are just generally fed up with the bullshit from Corporate America, you probably already like Gans—you just don’t know it.

A California native and lifelong resident, Deadhead documentarian Gans has enjoyed a multi-faceted career in both journalism and music that has spanned nearly four decades and includes books, albums, and the Grateful Dead Hour, a nationally syndicated radio show and his day job for the past 22 years. His songs are an eclectic collection of intelligent, socially conscious, and political rabble rousing tunes often doused in biting irony.

GOTV07_millmanDuring his career, Gans has interviewed some of the biggest names in popular rock music. Artists such as Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, the Talking Heads (the topic of one of his books), Jerry Garcia (the topic of several of Gans’ album and book projects), and the Doobie Brothers gave their stories to Gans for magazines such as Rolling Stone and Musician.

In the fall of 2007, David Gans and I spent some time backstage at the Fall Hookahville music festival where he was performing. We discussed the Grateful Dead (the topic of most of Gans’ work), his latest album, and national politics—while exploring the libertarian values espoused in his music.

Gooey Rabinski: What is it about Jerry Garcia and this god-like magnetism?

David Gans: He was a ridiculously charismatic guy. His musicianship was superlative. And his song writing and the character of his performance were just incredibly attractive to people. A lot of people who like to get really really high–in a positive way, not stupid fucking drunk people—but people who took acid as a tool of self-discovery and to widen the doors of perception and all that…it’s not that they took it seriously, but it was, in a way, a spiritual pursuit.

Going to see that band and hearing that guy play, he could take you on trips and just amazing places—if you got that. The people who didn’t understand Grateful Dead music and just thought it some stupid stoned hippy music, they never got it. But the people who did get it really got it. It could really take you someplace.

When Jerry was paying attention, when he engaged with the music, it really was deep shit. So I totally understand people who would follow him to the ends of the earth. There reached a point somewhere along the line when the legend started to eclipse the man. I think Jerry got kind of tired of being Jerry Garcia pretty early in the game.

GR: Do you think that coincided with the band’s commercial success?

DG: Yes and no. That was really a whole other thing. I think Jerry sort of withdrew from that reluctant guru role much earlier than that. He had that thing like Bob Dylan had of being somebody where everything he said was taken so seriously that an offhand comment would become a moral lesson in the world. I think he began to realize that, when he spoke from the stage, people were listening a little too intently.

GR: It’s almost like a Jesus Christ syndrome in how people regarded Jerry….

DG: Yea, Jerry was dealing with that as well. Because he had all these people who got really really high and really into what he was doing—and took it more seriously than he took it. And more seriously than I think he thought it was meant to be taken. The power of that alarmed him some. He didn’t want to be responsible for telling people what to do and he didn’t want people interpreting what he said as being powerful instructions.

I have this feeling that’s one of the reasons why he and Bob Dylan connected so well. They were two guys who had had way too much attention. That, you know, Dylan was famous in the early ’60 and late ‘60s for having that guy Alan J. Weberman going through his garbage and divining stuff. Dylan also changed the world and he kept sayin’ stuff that mattered to the world and he kept making observations.

GR: But just because he drinks a pint of milk every day doesn’t mean that cows are god….

DG: Well, right. People were taking his stuff way too seriously. Just as a practical matter of how to live in the world, not being able to go down to the corner and have a beer I think could get to you after a while. But Jerry was an unbelievingly engaging guy. When he had the charm turned on—which was most of the time I ever saw him—he could talk about anything and not just be bullshitting, you know? He was interested in stuff…he was well-read…he watched movies…he watched TV. He knew what was going on in the world and he cared about what was going on in the world. He could talk intelligently and inspiringly about it.

I think the Grateful Dead and the whole San Francisco hippy movement thing really did, for a while, think they could change the world. And then reality closed in and they realized that, not only could they not change the world, but they couldn’t even live the way they started out to live.

When the Grateful Dead started being a touring band—in like 1968—I think the whole nature of their family existence changed. ‘Cause they started out as a neighborhood band living communally in this big social experiment with all these other people and they ended up…. Being on tour is like being in a space capsule, but it’s launched on earth. You’re not really in the world. You’re carrying this complete environment of your own around with you. And part of their mission in those days was to bring that thing to various places. They were going to turn New York onto it.

Twisted Love Songs album coverWhatever notions they had about a social experiment fell by the wayside. And this is just my opinion from years of observation. I wasn’t there at the time, but I had seen how it went down and what became of it. I just think the practical matter of being a touring band and keeping your music fresh and dealing with that audience and stuff became their reason for being. All that early stuff that they thought was going to be so cool ended up being less important than keeping the show on the road.

GR: I’ve heard your latest album, Twisted Love Songs. In It’s Gonna Get Better, you label politicians as “pious thieves.”

DG: People have been beating god to death to get what they want from the world. An example is this guy [Senator] Larry Craig from Idaho who pleads guilty to this crime of soliciting sex in a public bathroom—and this is a guy who has spent years advocating loudly and passionately legislation to punish guys like himself.

What does that tell you about that party and those people? The ugly, violent, moralistic nature of that party provides this incredible cover for economic crimes. You know, they get everybody all hung up about sayin’ “fuck” on the radio….

GR: Or a tit at half time….

DG: Yea. You know, there’s all these things regarding public morality—which they’re so hypocritical about–but they’re just ways of distracting people from real crimes. They’ll police our behavior in private and with each other, but they won’t police people’s terrible economic abuse of one another in the marketplace. They keep trying to forget the role of the state in regulating toxic emissions into the environment and abuses of financial instruments to enrich people at the expense of others, and then they want to creep into everyone’s bedroom and find out who’s fuckin’ who up the ass.

It’s just so completely wrong. That they’ve managed to acquire this much power with that as the lever of it is just absurd and criminal to me. So that’s what that song’s about: They’re pious thieves.

GR: But can we really get rid of them? Everyone says, “back in the good ol’ days,” but I believe that there was no “good ol’ days.” There’s been corrupt, evil motherfuckers forever. Egypt…Greece…Rome…England…we’ve always had an evil ruling class. As we do now.

DG: America was supposed to be this experiment in social equality. And the Constitution is a beautiful, absolutely brilliant and humane document that has been neglected, forgotten, abused, and raped by these people. Particularly the Bush Administration, which is the worst thing that’s happened to the planet in I don’t know how long.

GR: But what do we do about it? I hear all these simple solutions, such as “go vote,” and none of them sound quite right.

DG: Well, voting is a part of the solution. Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” That means embody those values that you think matter. You can’t live a completely pure existence. One of the great pitfalls of trying to do that is to demand ideological purity of everybody. You just can’t be 100% ideologically pure in this universe.

GR: So what do you like to do most? Write music? Play music? Write? Or is it less about the medium and more about the topic?

DG: Well, getting to be a Grateful Dead expert wasn’t really what I intended. I was a general interest journalist for ten years—’76 to ’86—but then, toward the end of that time, I accidentally got a book deal and wrote Playing in the Band.

GR: Your music encompasses the way many Americans and Canadians feel since Bush came into office.

DG: I grew up in a time when we thought music was going to change the world.

GR: The late sixties?

DG: Yea, pretty much. The Beatles got everybody’s attention and then started doing something constructive with it, which was great. Everybody wanted to hear what they were doing and, as they grew up, they started writing music that meant something more than just mating rituals. Which is what all the early stuff was.

GR: Like Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis?

DG: Well, you know, music was about raw energy and it was about sex and shit, but people came along. The folk singers tried to change the world and Bob Dylan tried to change the world and the Beatles were pop stars who had a much bigger audience than the folk singers and they started doing socially responsible stuff. That’s when I came of age.

Solo Acoustic album coverGR: At the beginning of your first set [at Hookahville], you mentioned democracy. Has America ever really had a democracy? It certainly seems like we might not have one now.

DG: Well, they’ve done their best to get rid of it, but I think it might survive. I don’t know…history is all about survival of the fittest and the brutality of people in defense of their own property and in reaction to their own fears going back to the beginning of history. America was founded on these principles—and operated in spite of these principles—since day one.

A lot of people have been screwed over and a lot of people have gotten rich off the backs of other people in the name of American values. But I think, on a whole, it’s been a pretty successful experiment and, if we’re careful and if we’re positive and if we’re proactive, we can save it from the degradations of the kleptocrats. The Bush people are just the worst in terms of not giving a rat’s ass about who’s lives are made more miserable by their profiteering.

GR: You said earlier that you think Bush has been….

DG: Way worse than Nixon.

GR: Worse than Nixon?

DG: Well, we hated Nixon with a passion in ’74.

GR: But he created the DEA….

DG: Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency. Nixon went to China. Nixon did stuff that….

GR: So you’re saying he gave a damn?

DG: Well, Nixon was pathological, too. Believe me, man, Nixon was a sick motherfucker. But he was politically expedient. In those days, you could do more things. With the rise of the religious right, the fundamentalists and the profiteers have formed this incredible unholy alliance. The fundamentalists provide this great distraction, this cover.

Everybody’s arguing about a titty being seen at the Superbowl, but the debate about toxic waste and economic justice is relegated to the middle of the newspaper and not even covered in the evening news because all these other circuses are crowding it out.

I’ll rave about this shit ‘til the cows come home, but when I get up on stage, I try to make a little subtle reference to it here and there and just tell my story and let people get some value out of it—and maybe some inspiration.

GR: ‘Cause certainly if we look at the 2000 [U.S. presidential] election with Florida and then the 2004 election with Ohio….

convcoverNeighboring camper/pot salesman: How are you guys doin? I don’t mean to interrupt, but I have a bag of [Crutchster’s] Dumpster…a bunch of little bottoms. A quarter is $60. Perfect for rollin’ joints! I just got a huge pile of it.

GR: I might want to swap you for some hash.

Salesman: What kind of hash?

GR: Afghani.

DG: [Laughing] I’m not in the market ‘cause I’m flying home Saturday morning.

[We talk briefly with the guy selling pot and then return to the interview.]

GR: Is it fair to say that, within a reality of not being 100% ideologically pure, that one votes with one’s dollars?

DG: Yea.

[Gans, an old school master of journalism in almost any medium, has also produced or co-produced eight other albums, including Grateful Dead: So Many Roads, a five-CD collection spanning Dead shows between 1965 and 1995.]

GR: It’s nice to know that yuppies can also get stoned and trip and listen to good music….[laughing].

DG: It’s not about yuppies. Everybody in the world should hear that music, you know? The fact that they’re putting a record together that’s sold in a place where lots of good music is being sold these days. And because the regular retail record business is completely falling apart.

You just have to try to make things better in any way that you can and try not to make things worse and—you know what I’m sayin’? You can’t say Starbucks sucks and the Grateful Dead shouldn’t do business with them, because they’re trying to sell their music and get new people to like it, which is something we were always trying to do, too. When we were young Deadheads, we wanted to evangelize this to the world.

Okay, now they’ve found a way to get [this music] in the hands of people who would never run into the Grateful Dead in their ordinary travels, but they see that at Starbucks and they check it out.

Like this thing came up recently where the Grateful Dead put out a CD that’s being sold at Starbucks. It’s a double CD and it’s kind of an introduction to Grateful Dead music. It’s kinda neat. It’s not a record that I need because I’ve been listening to the Grateful Dead for 35 years.

But a lot of people are totally up in arms. They’re asking how can they get in bed with Starbucks, these corporate criminals. I know there’s some truth to that, that there are things that Starbucks has done in terms of being predatory in locating their stores and stuff, but I also hear from some people—and I’ve not done any direct research on this—that they’re very good employers. That [Starbucks] treats their workers well and their workers are stakeholders in some way and have good health plans and such.

And Bill Graham flew them to Canada that one time in ’67. The went up there with this intention. But over time, a rock ‘n’ roll tour just becomes this thing of its own and that became what they were.

GR: You articulate those values well.

DG: Well, thank you. Mission accomplished [laughing].

Anybody who expects me to take their faith as the truth is going to have a problem. If you believe god did this and god made that and god wants you to do that…then fine, you do that. But you don’t get to tell me how to behave because your god believes that shit, because I don’t believe that shit.

All of Western religion is based on stories that were told and written down years after the events took place and it’s all people telling other people what to do and you have to ask, what’s in it for them? The patriarchical god doesn’t do me the slightest bit of good because I don’t know him. And I’m not taking anybody else’s word for his. I think it’s a criminal thing to go around trying to run the world and telling people to deny their own nature on the basis of some shit that’s been told for 2000 years and passed along by people with a vested interest in continuing to be in power.

That doesn’t mean that I hate religion, it means that I hate religious fanatics who want to run the world in their image. That’s one of the things that my songs get a little gnarly about. I’d like to inspire and persuade people, but you don’t do that by telling them what to think. You do that by showing them how you think and setting an example. That Ghandi thing again: Be the change you want to see in the world. So I try to live a life that’s not lethal to anybody else.

The Works of David Gans

Books

  • Conversations with the Dead (The Grateful Dead Interview Book)
  • Playing in the Band (An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead)
  • Not Fade Away (The Online World Remembers Jerry Garcia)
  • Talking Heads (The Band and Their Music)

Albums

  • Twisted Love Songs
  • Solo Electric
  • Solo Acoustic
  • Home by Morning
  • Live at the Powerhouse
  • Grateful Fest 6 (Live at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park)

HBK11RenderGooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle, and is a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.

Gooey Interviews: Bushy Old Grower

[This article was originally written in February 2007 and updated August 6, 2015. All photos captured at the garden of Bushy Old Grower in December 2006.]

BOG, or Bushy Old Grower, is a cannabis gardener in Northern California. He has decades of experience in breeding, cultivating, and helping patients who use medical cannabis—especially those who want to emulate him and be independent of the black market and grow their own.

Author of Bonanza of Green, a book that documents his personal stage-based grow process, BOG is known for several potent and top-shelf strains, including Bogglegum and Lifesaver.


Their names call to me like the Siren’s song: Sweet Cindy, Bogglegum, Lifesaver, and that oh-so-intoxicating Sour Bubble. All are strains bred by Bushy Old Grower—better known to many as BOG. A Michigan native who now resides in the Pacific Northwest, BOG is a well-respected grower and breeder who has produced a line of top-shelf strains based on Bubblegum (unlike some breeders, BOG fully discloses his crosses).

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Finely grown examples of BOG’s strains are sought by connoisseurs, med patients, and edibles bakers throughout North America. They also fetch a competitive price on the dispensary and retail markets and are sold by the likes of Canada’s most finicky mail order weed services. BOG is one of the more spiritual breeder/gardeners on the scene; his Buddhist and American Indian principles guide much of his growing and breeding. Interestingly, it was first German Shepherds, rather than cannabis, that spurred him to indulge in breeding.


I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with BOG and his wife at their rural mountain ranch in December 2006. The following interview is an excerpt from that weekend.

Gooey Rabinski: You’re known to many people in the pot culture for your breeding skills and seeds. Do you still sell seeds?

Bushy Old Grower: I don’t really sell seeds in the way we were known for as far as sending them to a distributor who then markets them as BOG Seeds. No, we’re not doing that anymore. My genetics are safe…I’m keeping them…I have friends who are using my genetics. But at this point, I’m trying to be more public and get out there to promote my book a bit and be like anybody else in a state that allows medical usage.

GR: You mentioned your book, Bonanza of Green. You’ve been growing and breeding for decades. Does your experience culminate in this book?

BOG: I believe so. Early in my life, at 21 years old, I realized that my dogs were a part of my family. I’ve always had large German Shepherds that I love very much. I’ve bred them and I’ve found that, often, if you have a really special pair of parents, you’ll end up getting really special offspring. I don’t really look at breeding as something that’s rocket science. When you mix a couple of strains or you isolate a certain phenotype of one strain, what you’re doing is kind of a crap shoot. Hopefully you come up with something that’s unique enough and worthy enough that other people want it, too. That’s what I gradually evolved into doing.

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Just growing my own marijuana, I ended up making my own seeds and—before I ever heard of them—I was making my own feminized seeds. That was something I swore off before I ever sold any. I don’t consider it reliable enough. There can be too many problems with feminized seeds.

People kept telling me that I had a book in me, and that I really outta write it. All I ever taught was the basics of growing in soil, indoors. I had found that that was a safe, easy way. It was the way I knew how to do it. I’m pretty much a self-taught guy.

The goal with Bonanza of Green was to write a simple beginner’s book. Things like filling a Dixie cup with potting soil and putting a hole in the bottom for drainage…just some of the things that a lot of people who are trying to grow need to know. I just feel that teaching people to grow is like teaching someone to fish. They can actually take care of themselves if they learn how to grow.

GR: What do you think about the scene on the West Coast?

BOG: Look at what they did in L.A. The Feds—the DEA—came in and basically robbed medical marijuana clubs that were totally legal in the state. No charges were filed against any individual. Basically, they just seized it because they can do it. Because of their Supreme Court decision, they can come in and harass. It’s the same thing that happened to Eddy Lepp with the largest marijuana grow in history…in America…with 32,000 plants. Two years in a row they popped him. The guy still has his whole farm and ranch there [in Lake County, California]. I don’t think [the Feds] want to get all the way to court with some of these cases where somebody is going to fight to say “this is my religious right.” And it is.

I’m a founder and member in a church that has documentation for ancient usage of cannabis and holy rituals and it’s no different than any other church. The church has these rights and the good news is that there are decisions being made and it looks like the religious rights will be upheld. And that’s on a federal level. That’s not just state medical laws.

GR: Let’s talk a little about Bonanza of Green. It’s more than a book; it’s a system of growing that, in your opinion, makes more sense than some conventional methods.

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BOG: Bonanza of Green, or BOG, is a production-line system. It consists of separate vegetative and flowering rooms and continuous production so that it’s not all-at-once. You have plants at many different stages. You always have part of your flowering room getting done. Every time you harvest some plants from flower, there are vegging plants ready to move into the flowering room. Today may be the day you either plant some seeds or take some clones. It may be the day that you transplant some small plants into bigger pots. It may be the day that you move some plants into flower.

This system also has a couple of other benefits. A lot of people grow in a way that they have all of their flowering room coming mature at one time. They have a lot of smell as the plants mature and dry. For some, that’s a security risk.

GR: There’s a difference between four or five plants coming up and 30 plants coming up.

BOG: There sure is. Four or five is a lot easier to conceal and manage. Instead of having a whole lot of weed, all at one time, you’ve got some fresh all the time. I’d rather always have some fresh around.

GR: What was the first strain you developed?

BOG: It was a pure Bubblegum called BOG Bubble. It’s yummy stuff and quite a large yielder. And, you know, a lot of people had kind of put Bubblegum behind them. Bubblegum had been a really big thing in Holland. It was like the number one commercial clone in Holland for a long time. When I did my breeding and all my work back at the start, I didn’t work with other people’s clones, like a lot of breeders do. I didn’t have access to them. I was off on the fringes, you know? Up in my cave, in the mountains. The best I could do was get some seeds.

In the case of BOG Bubble, I took clones of the first group of seeds that I got. There were two different kinds of plants in them. The results were kind of variable, like a lot of people’s seeds are [laughs]. What I was calling pure Bubblegum may have been a Bubblegum/Kush cross. It’s hard to really know the history of everything that’s done in the breeding world. It took me a while to figure that out. But my Bubblegum was a pretty pure Bubblegum because the clones that I had selected tasted like Bubblegum and produced good, reliable Bubblegum seeds. Whereas the other clones seemed more potent and rare. The rare one is what eventually became Sour Bubble. It was a selection out of this…probably a Kush Bubblegum cross.

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Some people would have said that making seeds from seeds had already weakened the lines that I was working with. It’s a myth, though. And I’d be willing to argue this with anybody. When you make seeds from a batch of seeds, those original seeds are often not stabilized at all, and are often first crosses. You really can’t expect a lot out of them. You get those seeds and then you can work with them to stabilize them. That was done for many generations on the BOG Bubble and then Bogglegum.

Bogglegum was the second strain I created, which was Bubblegum crossed to an NL5 [Northern Lights #5] in the form of a real hardy plant that came down from Canada. So that was a cross between one of Amsterdam’s best stains and one that’s very well known from British Columbia. Bogglegum is really easy to grow and matures pretty fast.

GR: What did you create next?

BOG: Most of the time, in my breeding, my best friends and people who later tuned out to be good breeders themselves would send me their best strains and I would end up crossing it to my Bubblegum. That’s what happened with Subcool’s JCB that I brought in and crossed with my BOG Bubble. That was a great combination that produced Lifesaver. Lifesaver was touted as a medical strain by a lot of people because it has a numbing effect…your teeth get a little numb.

GR: The Sour Bubble is really a standout strain. Tell me more about it.

BOG: We’ve maintained the same clone for about six and a half years now. That clone is my elite clone mom. Most breeders claim that they have a few. But this one I actually came up with myself from my own breeding and I have to say that anybody who has ever tried it loves it and that’s pretty much all I’m gonna grow. I’ve decided that the whole evolution of the BOG strains is getting right back to the start. Sour Bubble is really the side of the Bubblegum Kush that I liked the most all along. So that’s what we’re doing now and everybody’s real happy with it.

When I get trim from the Sour Bubble, I make the best hash. I make bubble hash using ice water and it’s definitely a marketable commodity. The better quality your trash, the better quality your hash. The better quality your strains or clones…it all adds up. When you have something that’s really good, you’ll never have any problem selling it. Even if it doesn’t yield as much as something else, it’s really nice to have that one thing they can’t get enough of.

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GR: I’m really impressed with Sour Bubble. The first time I smoked it was with you in San Francisco after I’d been smoking with Eddy Lepp and Jack Herer and a bunch of hardcore tokers for five days straight. After a marathon like that, it’s really tough to get something to stand out. Between you, your wife, and me, we only got through half a joint of that stuff. It cut right through everything else.

BOG: I remember, you were pretty lit on that joint, Gooey. You were pretty happy. A lot of times I get that reaction. Sour Bubble is considerably stronger than any of my other strains. My other strains are no slouch; usually they compare pretty well to the good stuff that’s going around. But Sour Bubble…we got it tested in a college lab and we’re going to get it re-tested with chromatography real soon. But we came up with 32 percent THC in Sour Bubble.

GR: Wow. That’s like Trainwreck….

BOG: There may be a couple of strains that claim to be a little higher than that, but most people would call me a liar. But it’s high just because there’s an awful lot of resin on a bud. My next highest strain would be like Lifesaver at 25 percent.

Basically, genetics are a very important thing in the quality and the yield. Now I’m not tryin’ to tell people that they need to go out there and find the last pack of BOG Seeds somebody claims they have, okay? But besides method and technique, genetics tends to be the biggest factor in how well people grow. There’s no purpose in putting a lot of work into something that doesn’t have much potential. And that’s not the grower’s fault. If you grow something from poor genetics and it comes out mediocre, that’s the best you can do!


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All text and photos Copyright © 2003-2016 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer and instructional designer who has contributed dozens of feature articles to magazines such as High Times, SKUNK, Heads, Weed World, Cannabis Health Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself. He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana (2015 Edition), available on Amazon Kindle, and is a contributing writer at Whaxy.com.

His marijuana-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.