Posted February 22, 2013, 6:16 pm MT
How I stopped worrying and learned to love reading about marijuana
By Susan Clotfelter
The Denver Post
A marijuana bud growing at Denver Relief’s cultivation facility. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post
I am probably the last person anyone ever thought would be writing about pot.
I was the worrier, the rule-abider, even the tattletale of my family. As the child of heavy cigarette smokers, I was disinterested in smoke of any kind. Beer was the drug of choice in my “Animal House” college era.
But when Amendment 64 passed and I learned it would soon be legal to grow marijuana, I seriously considered it.
I came to Colorado to edit books on medicinal herbs like kava kava and ginger and echinacea. More than a decade after I left that job, here was the ultimate medicinal herb, suddenly become the ultimate DIY project. The “do-it-because-you-can, thumb-your-nose-at-the-feds” project.
Then, of course, sanity returned. Cue the internal dialogue: “Get over yourself. You can barely grow tomatoes in a good year, and your kitchen is where houseplants go to die.”
But my intellect remained in the clutches of cannabis, the plant. Because it’s oddly fascinating, if you find plants fascinating. And the people who produce it, process it, and sell it are also fascinating.
Trimmed marijuana buds hang on wire hangers to dry, looking for all the world like any other herb. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)
On a tour of cannabis-seed websites, you meet descriptions like this one, which wouldn’t sound out of place in a catalog for dahlias or wine grapes:
“Bred in 1994, and improved in 2002, Dutch Dragon is a huge Sativa variety that produces superb yields from long sticky colas. The aroma is very citrusy and sweet, like tangerines, as is the taste. The buzz is a lasting, clear high that increases an appetite for music and pleasure.” (paradise-seeds.com).
But you’ll also find this:
“The Indica Apollo 13 is not only a heavy hitter but, with a main centre cola with few side branches and buds that are pure eye candy, she’s easy on the eyes too! Delivers a heavy high that packs a punch.” (kindseed.com) It’s like Cheech and Chong meets Burpee.
In editing a story for the Home section in which we consulted a professional medicinal-marijuana dispensary manager to answer questions about how a home grower would go about it, I toured Denver Relief’s grow facility. Lit by intensely bright, yellow-tinged lights, the vegetative and flowering rooms were packed with plants. The only playfulness in evidence was the sound system (yes, at one point it was playing the Grateful Dead). “Mother” plants from which cuttings could be taken if a whole strain died out lined the walls, just like at my local herb greenhouse. In the drying room, trimmed branches of pot buds dangled from wire hangers just like they would in a Martha-Stewart-emulating suburbanite’s kitchen.
The facility is also a factory and a business, one operating under the eye of strict state regulations. So each and every plant had its own tag identifying its strain and a unique identifying number; each harvest is weighed and logged. Each visitor signed in and was tagged with a pass. When a plant is harvested, operations head Kayvan Khalatbari told us, the non-THC-containing “fan” leaves that are trimmed off can’t just be thrown out. They have to be mixed with 50 percent waste substances before they can be disposed of. Lists on the walls note signs of nutrient stress that workers must keep an eye out for. (Denver Relief also offers classes on growing your own marijuana.)
Nick Hice, cultivation manager, tends marijuana plants at Denver Relief. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)
And yet, cultivation manager Nick Hice still bonds with these plants. In the video by Denver Post videographer Lindsay Pierce, he talks about them just the way anyone growing roses commercially would.
Sure, there’s a stoner culture that’s idiotic and juvenile and time-wasting. But there’s also plenty of wonder, at least for me, in this subject. A plant that bears its bioactive substances in tiny, translucent, resin-filled glands (called trichomes) that you can see with the naked eye (though they’re much cooler under magnification). A plant that a world power once tried to eradicate. A plant that sprung up in author Michael Pollan’s compost heap. A plant that, when grown commercially, flowers best in an artificially created 70-day equinox.
A plant that, according to Hice, needs to be touched, moved, and talked to.
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How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Reading About Marijuana.