A Cannabis Story

Like many others I have a storied history with the cannabis plant.  I retired after a decade of financial advising in 2014 to cannabis caregive for my dying mother and have been growing full time since then.  Both personally and professionally I hid my use for years.  Until far too recently I was a full grown man behaving like a damn child, sneaking around and lying about who I was.  Almost seems laughable…except it’s not fucking funny.  It’s sad and it’s criminal and it put me in a crappy emotional space for years.

For a decade I sat behind a desk longing to do more.  I wanted to farm professionally and with respect to capital markets and personal finance, I wanted to engage people more like myself.  I wanted to use freely and perhaps most importantly, I wanted to shed the negative internal dialogue that held me back and prevented me from operating at my highest potential.  I know that cannabis makes me healthier, but it also makes me kinder, more understanding, more appreciative, more connected to God and nature, and far more loving and empathetic.  To be denied that, by statute, enforcement action, or because of misinterpreted negative externalities or someone’s own imposed morality is both cruel and intolerable.

Things really began to change for me at Tech conference in Oakland.  I knew nothing of the event until a day or two prior and was right in the middle of harvest season when I got the invite.  I was feeling busy so declined, but was mystically nudged in the right direction and changed my mind later the same day.  The experience was amazing.  At conference I learned about the cannabis Movement for the first time.  I was lucky enough to be in a room where Wayne spoke passionately and was introduced as the very first 215 patient in Cali.  I was amazed by the overall love for cannabis and by the caliber of professionals who were leaving other industries to play with us. 

My Central American sweetheart and bride of nearly twenty years calls me a loser for growing and using cannabis and believes I am taking my family to hell as a result.  Some of you may know how that feels and it hurts, a lot.  Nonetheless I will march on and the reason is simple…In 2014 my lack of knowledge and understanding contributed to the unpleasant and tremendously sad death of my mother.  Had I known then that high ingestible loads of THC and CBD oil could have saved her, I would have responded very differently.  Instead of using cannabis to replace opiates, ease her pain and combat the ravages of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I would have used cannabis to reverse her cancer and allow her light to continue shining.  She was a gift to this world and loved kids more than anything else.  To see her life cut so short and in such a terrifyingly painful and sad way was more than I could handle.  I sunk into a deep two year depression and were it not for the grow-room, the life giving beauty of my cannabis clones and flowers, and my desire to improve lives, there were many days I would have simply stayed in bed.

All of this breaks my heart to this day and angers me deeply.  Mom’s death, while certainly not my fault, is now my cross to bear at some level.  Because of this experience though, I believe ever more in the free flow of credible information and in my role in the Movement.  I want to actively participate in saving lives and took a meaningful step toward this end in both 2017 and 2018 where 10% of my personal crop was donated to a woman fighting cancer.  This season I will do the same once a needy recipient has been identified. 

Near mom’s death I began farming full time and was kicked out of my own home for four months, forced to live alone and away from my five kids at the time.  I was eventually allowed to return home, but because a lack of regulation and other factors has led to a somewhat dangerous growing environment in Humboldt County, my small 16 light medicinal operation came under attack and was ravaged by criminals.  The high THC flowers stolen were destined to improve and save lives, not make me excess profits.  Heartbroken and afraid as I came under repeated attack, I closed shop and transitioned from organic indoor growing to organic sun-grown farming on a small commercial scale, operating in the 10,000 to 20,000 sq ft space. 

While I no longer financial advise corporately, I have served as a private financial consultant since retirement.  While my money-centric consulting platform serves both cannabis professionals and those from other industries, my newest offering thru Nor Cal Financial and Cannabis Consulting is pro bono and is designed to help small and mid size farmers achieve financial success in an increasingly competitive market. 

In the spirit of full transparency, I won’t pretend that my relationship with cannabis has always been a bouquet of roses.  Like my mother and many family members before me, I am another talented and passionate individual plagued by the affliction of addiction.  I am one of the 9% of users who are physically addicted to cannabis and tolerance break for me means smoking flower only instead of dry sift or oil topped flowers.   If I were to not use for a few days, as I did last week, I can’t sleep, I can hardly eat, and stimulus is overwhelming.  I’m not proud of this part of myself, but have learned over many years and after much trial and error that cannabis is the one substance I can use productively.  Abstinence doesn’t work for me as I really get enormous physical, spiritual, emotional, and interpersonal benefit from using cannabis, but excess use is also damaging.  Fully aware that I can become someone who’s very existence revolves around using cannabis, I approach my use with an added level of respect and caution. 

I have also felt the sting of the law.  In 2002 as I was nearing college graduation, I was caught growing four marijuana plants at my mother’s home.  The Sheriff’s office confiscated my product, ransacked her house inside and out and came for me six months later.  Several squad cars and multiple officers showed up unannounced and cuffed me in my undies outside my apartment at 6:30 am.  Of the course the wife and two kids were home and the landlady who lived next door was as well.  I spent the day in jail and was subsequently forced to quit smoking, go to a detox facility for heroine, meth, opiate and alcohol addicts and enter a 6 month prop 36 drug deferral treatment program.  All of this made quite a stink when financial advising and I had to threaten litigation to keep my job with a Wall Street Investment Bank when my fingerprints trigged a booking report.

In my wife’s defense, cannabis hasn’t always been the healthiest of things for me.  While I used to righteously debate and contradict the merits of her views, I have learned better over time.  As I’ve grown up and matured emotionally, I’ve come to better understand and appreciate the criticisms associated with cannabis…things like laziness, negative health consequences, greed, addiction, violence, illicit activity, and environmental degradation.   For those reasons I share Green Flower Media’s desire to help professionalize and de-stigmatize our industry.  I want everyone to have safe access to high quality cannabis products around the world and have decided to make this my life’s work.   As more and more top tier professionals confess to using cannabis and dedicate themselves professionally to the Movement, the more consumers will be empowered, vindicated, and celebrated.

Jesse Duncan

Mountain Grown

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