You might be perplexed by the title of this article, but I assure you, my friends, your eyes do not deceive you. I am a preacher who grows cannabis. Furthermore, I am a preacher of one of the strictest Fundamental Christian churches on the planet. Like many of you, I have heard the Zealots misgiven convictions that weed is of the Devil, but I can assure you, my fellow travellers, that the Devil never created anything. Only a loving God would bestow such a gift on His children. The Bible clearly defines the results of sin: “For the wages of sin is Death” (Romans 6:23).
How many of you worry about overdosing on your favorite herb? Have any of you ever heard of anyone dying from cannabis? There was an article in 2013 that told of a fellow who was crushed to death by 500 kilos of cannabis when he hit a tree during a police chase, but I don’t think that one counts, do you?[i]
The Demonization of cannabis came about because of a few very wealthy and powerful men. Before the Marijuana Tax Act and Harrison Narcotic Tax Act of 1937, cannabis and hemp oils were in all types of over-the-counter medications. It was in the medicine cabinets of most homes, even preachers. But this is a long story for another day. Today, we are talking about how a Fundamentalist Christian preacher came to be a serious grower.
I will start my story from the beginning.
I remember sunny, summer afternoons, hanging out with my buddy at a little park near my hometown where we spent our youth. This is the same friend who, in the 9th grade, introduced me to Mexican weed and Cheech and Chong albums in the same day.
We often talked about our lofty dreams of what we would do when we were old enough to escape that place. On one particular, lazy afternoon we were laying on our backs in the grass, soaking in our buzz from the bag of Colombian Gold we had just spent half our paychecks to score from the one and only local pot dealer. We were reminiscing over my favorite dream, which stemmed from an old tale my grandmother read to me as a child, called ‘Johnny Appleseed’. I wanted to be like that mythical character who strapped on a bag filled with apple seed and traveled the world, planting the seeds that would become future orchards to be enjoyed by generations to come. I wanted to be Johnny Potseed and travel the world planting pot seeds.
I visualized the lost youth wandering the world that might find my little patches of beautiful weed. It would become their little Shangri-La, their own little paradise of escape they could retreat to when their world was collapsing in on them.
Now I sit here on my couch, some 40 years later, having travelled the world and seen the places my buddy and I had once dreamed of. I still miss my friend who didn’t make it to share in my dream. His world took him, way before his time.
As I traveled this big blue marble, some little part of me must have remembered the dream of Johnny Potseed, because the seeds of every little pack of weed I picked up along the way found their way home. I used to send these little packages of dreams home to my father, who must have been moved by God to save them. This is the same father who throughout my youth thought it was better to consume your troubles with life-stealing alcohol than to give them over to the evils of weed.
Fast forward in time to 1990. My world travels are behind me and I bear the internal wounds of war and the chaos of my troubled youth. I am married to an even more troubled firecracker of a woman whose body was riddled with scars from joint replacements that resulted from endless dislocated shoulders and falls during epileptic fits that damaged her body, jaw, and bitten tongue.
You get the picture, ‘Big Pharma’ had failed her, but I had read that epilepsy could be managed with cannabis and it was already a big part of my life. However, I could not afford the level of cannabis needed to treat her seizures, so I started some plants in a little back room in the house. I soon learned that keeping such things secret was next to impossible.
Smells of ganja filled the house and soon every loose-mouthed buddy was blabbing about my garden to every soul they met. My options were limited, but by this time it was mid-summer so I quickly found a remote location in some local woods by a stream and that became their new home while I built a secret room to continue the grow.
One trusted friend remained with me to begin the excavation of a hidden space under the house. I only had one short summer to pull a mountain of sand from under that old house. We dug a passage under the foundation and built concrete supports. We pulled two rooms of dirt from under that old shack, one bucket at a time. We constructed forms for walls, mixed concrete in a wheel barrel by hand and poured one bucket at a time.
We returned to our remote hideaway in the woods as the first snows were falling. All but one of the plants we had set out were gone. We brought home this single female and put her in bucket #3 of a new hydroponics system, bugs, and all.
Any of my old friends, from that time, who might happen across this article, will be instantly transported back in time with me to the memories of #3. Just the other day I ran across an old friend I hadn’t seen in 25 years. The mere mention of #3 made his eyes glass over and I swear a tear might have formed in his eye. He was a bit surprised that someone he thought was lost to religion was growing weed again.
In the early ’90s, #3 was a rare find in a small town. Our little world of weed had closed in on the drudgery of cartel, compactor weed. I was growing every seed I could find in desperation of finding strains that would stop the seizures. One strain wasn’t enough and my skills did not yet include cloning. Old #3 was a massive Kush-like plant and I managed to resurrect her once under 24/7 lighting, but all of her seed progeny came from cartel crap males and none ever produced a thing worth keeping. Magic seeds were few and far between and European seeds were only in High Times and inaccessible to a guy like me.
In 1992 I moved to a new town to continue my college education. I found another old house to fix up and in 1993 I began excavation and building of a new grow room. By the time it was finished the internet was starting to get its wings. I had finally managed to land some elusive European seeds after several failed attempts.
Nirvana was one of the early birds on the web. Ben Sensi had these Holy Grail seeds that were serious bucks. Finally, after many wasted dollars on lost shipments, my packs of Hashplant and Hashplant x G13 had made it. The plants were in the new room that had taken over a year to build and raised the level of my yard by two feet. They were beautiful and fat, almost mystical.
Unfortunately, the dream didn’t make it to flower. A bad friend decided to heist a bank, and being a known associate, I was awakened late one night by a troop of FBI and police wanting to tear my home apart to find the hiding thief. Unfortunately, I had gone to bed that night without closing my entrance. My only fortune was in that there was no warrant for a grow room and they left it untouched. “Nice crawl space you have there. It will be empty and sealed with concrete when I return tomorrow to look for your friend.” That FBI agent was a man of his word. It was the end of my dream, or, so I thought.
This is where God begins to move in my life. I had become a Christian in 1979 but it was in a bad church that didn’t follow God’s Word. Unfortunately, there are more bad churches in this world than good ones, but that’s a sermon and we are not here for that. I had drifted from God and I wasn’t living for him.
After losing my dream to grow, my wife of six years ran off with the pot dealer down the street when God called me into the ministry. It may interest you to know that God wants us to follow the laws of man so He forced me to build a concrete barrier between my dream and me, but seeds are not illegal, so He left my obsession for seeds untouched.
Now that cannabis had been removed from my life the trauma of my past reared its ugly head in the form of PTSD. Despite not being able to keep a decent job for the last eleven years, I had no idea that the events of my childhood and war had damaged me to such depths. Six years at university as a psychology major resulted in the knowledge that PTSD was a big part of my life and that cannabis had been somewhat successful at keeping the really bad symptoms at bay. But, God took care of me as long as I stayed faithful to His service, and time passed by.
Fast forward to 2008 and 420, the laws of the land were changing, cultivation became legal for medical use and because it no longer violated the law of man I was free. God no longer held me back from my dream. I immediately dusted off my collection of the legendary hybrids I had been drooling over for almost 13 years.
This is where I took a wrong turn. I had read such wonderful things about all these old school hybrids that I couldn’t wait to get some of them started.
I was now preaching in a small mountain church, so it was tricky at first. I had learned about the endocannabinoid system that every animal on the planet has. God had revealed to me, during some research, the deception of our government and that the cannabis I had loved since my youth was a gift He had given to His children to keep them healthy and free from so many of the serious ailments that now plague mankind. So I began adding small bits of information to my sermons under the guise of easing the unrest legal weed was expected to cause. It took a couple of years and the loss of three members to opiates and cancer before I came completely out of the closet. One was my friend and was only days from transitioning from opiates to CBD when the opiates took his life.
My first couple of years of growing went poorly because the transition from my old method, hydroponics to soil was a bit rocky… forgive the pun. The one thing that I noticed about the harvests right away was that I was plagued with paranoia and panic every time I dosed.
I began to hear of strains like Harlequin that offered relief from pain and that is what I truly sought. I have some seriously compressed discs in my L4, L5 vertebrae that are worthy of opiates. My doctor wanted to put me on Oxy or some other deadly pharmaceutical. But part of the trauma of my childhood had to do with my wicked stepmother’s addiction to these pills. I was terrified of becoming my own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde like she had.
This quest progressed over the following 12 years. I had become obsessed with the pursuit of high CBD strains and spared no expense to find them. But, regardless of the strain, the paranoia and panic remained on some level. And trust me, my library has well over a hundred of the finest CBD strains available.
I began to question if God had released me to become a preacher who grew pot in the closet. Even though it kept my life free from opiates, I feared God was closing that door. After all, these strains allowed me to keep a sober mind and retain the ability to function as a man of God.
I had not yet realized that I had made a terrible mistake from the start. I was convinced THC and THCV were causing this problem, but I was wrong, it was polyhybridism.
Many old-school hybrids were originally created by taking two stable Landraces and breeding them to create a new strain that contains the traits of both parent strains. P1 + P2 = F1.
Unfortunately, this F1 is not a stable strain and the effects are not clean or free from anxiety producing effects. It takes many generations to stabilize a new strain. What has happened is ‘wannabe breeders’ have been blending hybrid upon hybrid, creating polyhybrids that contain dozens of strains that were never given the generations needed to stabilize, creating a high unsuitable for anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar and other anxiety disorders.
It was my botanist friend who explained it to me after this endless string of hybrids, I had been growing, brought my PTSD to the point of mental collapse and inches from hospitalization just a few months ago. It is reasons like this that landrace preservation groups are popping up everywhere.
I know what some of you are thinking, what happened to all those landraces I collected all those years ago? To be honest, I thought they were lost. Little did I know, until my father came to live with me because of old age, he had saved all my seeds in an ice-cold bank vault. He had also rescued all the seeds I saved from the bags I had bought during my youth from a police raid on my little room in the garage when I was 16.
My evil stepmother had found my paraphernalia and called my father at work to tell him she was calling the police. He knew where I kept my weed and being in a small town, was able to beat the police to my little room he had built for me in the garage to live in and to escape my stepmother.
He never told me about this until 2007, when I discovered the treasure he had kept in his safety deposit box for all those years. Plus he had added all the little packages to the box as I sent them to him over the years I was traveling the world.
The reason I bring this up now has a lot to do with where this story will take us in the future. I extend an invitation to you to stay tuned and see what’s next….