Botanical Epiphany by "Limber Marks"
The author has been using Cannabis recreationally for over thirty years. Due to the highly toxic and corruptive forces of this intoxicant, he has suffered dearly. After obtaining degrees from N.Y.U. and R.I.T. with honors, he was instrumental in the continued prosperity of his family’s commercial printing corporation in NYC. Servicing multi-national corporations and prolific artists like Andy Warhol, the companies success allowed him to retire at a early age. He now lives in the Sangre De Christo Mountains of New Mexico, skiing, mountain biking, rehabilitating abandoned dogs and hybridizing various strains of Cannabis. He believes others should be as unfortunate to suffer such a squandered life from the ill effects of this plant.
It was a cool sunny late September New York afternoon in 1977. A lone plant about 12 inches in height sat motionless in front of my friend and I. We pondered it. After all it was a joke. I planted the lone seed in a tiny container 3 months past with no understanding or premonitions as to what to expect. My friend replied, “let’s smoke it”. “Are you nuts” I answered. For sure, this plant, although the product of a Cannabis seed I had planted , could not actually be the real thing. It could not possibly be that easy. He clipped the strange unrecognizable bud from the top of the plant, brought it into the house and placed it in the toaster oven. It dried quite quickly under the waffle-cooking like conditions. He then crumbled it into the bowl of my beautiful 2 foot high glass bong, lit the lighter, and began what would turn into a life long odyssey for me. A botanical epiphany had occurred.
I was 16 years old and I had unknowingly stumbled into what would be my “Botany of Desire”. Like the co-star of Michael Pollan’s book, Cannabis and I would begin a symbiotic relationship for the next 32 years. My parents had never used Cannabis, however, my father owned a printing corporation in NYC and he was familiar with its social use by his high profile artist clientele. My parents liberal backgrounds and life-long ultra health conscience awareness would set the table for me. My voracious appetite for understanding this strange herb would be both bridled and encouraged by them. This balance, like the Hydrogen and Oxygen of our planet and all the universal balances that allow life to prosper, allowed me to prosper in life and in all of my endeavors.
That next spring I made my first conscious effort to cultivate Cannabis. I procured some seeds from some exotic Hawaiian Marijuana. Luckily, I grew up in the affluent social circles of a NYC private high school, I had access to such fine strains of pot and I was not relegated to using the seeds from the commercial Mexican and Columbian Marijuana’s of the day. Nevertheless, luck turned into fate and fate spelled doom for my first agronomical attempt. You see, I had a crude word-of-mouth education about growing. I understood about male and female plants and even understood that senseamillia was actually sin semillas (my paying attention in spanish class was paying off), but no one had enlightened me about light. It seemed this simple weed actually had some complexities in its genetic code and its life cycles were dictated by the length of the growing period. Needless to say, my tropical Hawaiian seeds grew into 7 ft. behemoths and I recall the 3rd week in October when the plants just began to show flowers, a prolonged and formidable frost sealed their fate – ground up, cooked down into terrible tasting somewhat impotent brownies. My first crop was a utter failure.
Rather then give up, I decided to research this subject and quickly I found myself engrossed in the reading of “The Marijuana Grower’s Guide” by Frank & Rosenthal. This literature became my bible and I still retain the haggard copy I first acquired some 32 years ago. Even today as I compare notes and philosophies with Cannabis botanists from UC Berkeley, to the Netherlands to Vancouver, BC, I find this book to be as informative and complete today as it was 3 decades ago. It revealed to me the secrets of the plants life cycles and how the three different strains of Cannabis: Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis were each equipped to prosper in different environmental conditions. I then searched out the Afghan Indica Marijuana seeds I would need to be a successful grower in the Northeast U.S. climate. My trusted NYC high end reefer dealers were more than happy to take my cash as a retainer to keep and hold any of the rare seeds they might encounter from their exotic asian varieties they were selling at the time. Selling seeds was hardly chic at this point in time and as far as they were concerned I was paying them for something they would usually just throw off the balcony.
For the next thirty plus years I would continually hybridize and experiment with different strains of Cannabis – a never ending pursuit for the most potent, the prettiest, the most fragrant, the most enlightening, the most body numbing, the most creativity inspiring karmic beautiful energy producing specimens I could create. It became a passion but never a occupation. I enjoy supplying my friends. They supply me with the critical feedback I need to keep improving my product and I supply them with the medicinal therapy they need to maintain sanity living in the worlds most stressful metropolis. My compensation is sometimes a 1990 Chateau Margaux or dinner at Peter Lugar, but these materialistic gestures although appreciated, pale in comparison to the most rewarding experience. Childhood friends sitting around smoking my latest creation and hearing their praises and admiration.
My relationship with Cannabis has been “highly” influenced by my being a producer, like the relationship a vintner has with his wine. I take pride that I use the earth’s universal light source “the sun” and simple compost (actually it is a bat guano based Carbon/Nitrogen mix it took six books to perfect). Yet, this use of mother nature with a little aid from the extra ultra violet light present at my 7000 foot elevation, allow me to compete with the very best botanists in Amsterdam and Vancouver. Although these hydroponic gardeners have led the way in creating today’s woefully powerful strains like “Super Silver Haze” which I gratefully employ in my genetic soup, their powerful indoor gardens use ghastly amounts of precious electricity, jeopardizing the sustainability of our planet. Still, I am not condemning these growers, but rather the governments which force them indoors.
I have a tendency to obsess over the aesthetics and effectiveness of my product but I will now digress to explore the plant itself, how it has effected my life and why I feel it is important for all concerned citizens to let their voices be heard so this senseless prohibition may cease. I have many fond memories of events which were decidedly influenced by my or our being under the influence. Like Carl Sagan and many others, I am always pondering wether Cannabis use makes things better or just seem better. Let’s see.
One day on board a Holland America ship somewhere off the Yucatan coast my ten year old son and I were searching for my wife. Unsuccessful in our search we were returning to our cabin. As we entered the final hallway I was immediately struck with the intense and pungent smell of fine Cannabis. “Oh boy” I muttered to myself – I knew who the culprit was. I knocked on the door of my parents suite and eventually over the typical elderly television sound level, our pounding was recognized and the door was opened. Inside this lavish suite, kept at a temperature which had us label it “the cryogenic zone” the lights were dim but the spirits were “high”. My son asked his grandfather, “Have you seen my mom and grandma?” After a short pause my father replied, “how could I see your mom, it’s dark in here.” This was followed by a laughing fit that left my 78 year old father writhing on the floor in hysteria. Like any ten year old, my son did not need any intoxicants to follow suit, and they both rolled around the floor in hysterics. I just stood and stared, the levity escaped me, but the precious moment of bonding between them put a smile on my face. My father passed last year at the age of 83 after a 10 year battle with prostate cancer. A man who was subject to a childhood in the depression and the horrors of WWII in the South Pacific – he became a captain of industry, self educated, athletic and a health nut. He first began using Cannabis to alleviate the effects of chemotherapy. In the last few months of his life, with the myriad of morphine and pharmaceuticals at his disposal, it was Cannabis that gave him the only glimmer of light and helped him muster any thought of nourishment. It saddened me and the wonderful hospice people, there are so many other brave and beautiful people in this world who are not privy to this tiny morsel of pleasure during one of life’s darkest moments.
It is universally accepted (if you live in the right universe) that Cannabis accentuates things. Funny things become utterly hysterical, interesting things become fascinating, and all things pleasurable, well, they become more pleasurable. The down side is…well, I’m not sure, what the down side is? Like anything used in extreme excess it’s bad for you but so is vitamin C. So, we as a people have decided to condemn something because it “makes things seem better”. Seems crazy to me, and if I take a puff or two, even that crazy “seems” crazier.