Head Change #2 - Smokin' with Captain Cam
Cameron Hattan is a former U.S. Marine and Co-Founder along with his wife Shannon of Fiddler’s Greens. A passionate cannabis educator, road warrior and sailor, Cameron has overseen the business development of his vertical cannabis company through the turbulent PROP 64 transition from medical to recreational cannabis. I spoke with Captain Cam about being a mom and pop cannabis company on Head Change #2.
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Levi: Welcome to Head Change, the podcast that puts you in a better headspace. I'm your host Levi Strom. On today's episode I speak with Captain Cam. That's Cameron Hattan, co-founder of Fiddler's Greens about being a mom and pop cannabis brand. You'd mention making infused brownies and ice cream and I know you've told me about this before and my question is when are you going to do that again? Because we need that!
Cam: When I'm not working 60 to 80 hour weeks trying to survive the regulated cannabis market and I this is the most, you know, everything that I've done in my life and I think no matter how hard miserable, I mean, I've had some the worst shit jobs, imaginable in the world and some of the toughest environments to work in and I think those were just precursors to get me ready for the the dick punch that is cannabis.
Levi: Yeah. It's why we have cannabis so that we can deal with all this.
Cam: We joke we couldn't do what we do without doing what we do. Yeah, you know we come from this outlaw culture where we were always sneaking around and smoking and you'd always medicate in private somewhere where nobody knew and then we got to this beautiful spot where we created our own universe where we can medicate openly and freely and and beyond the open and now we're legal now we're permitted now we're in that space and I can't even smoke in my own damn facility.
Levi: You have to go out and buy your own products, you know from the dispensary.
Cam: We have a space outside of our facility that we call international waters ,where that's a safe space we can go ,but it's like well now I'm back hiding in the bushes to smoke again.
Levi: I don't know what's going on with my mic. It's like every time I talk I feel like there's a weird static energy. You know, what sometimes when you're out at sea shit gets gnarly and you just keep on sailing. So we're just going to keep going guys.
Cam: Yeah, that's that's the way it always is and you know, it's funny as all my years of teaching sailing and running boats the one thing I can guarantee is shit's going to break everything is going to go wrong. But if you know that's going to happen. You've already know, you know, hey, we're just going to take this step we need to do this, you know, stop the water from coming in and start heading back, you know, all the little things that I can't think of everything breaks all the time and that is the Cannabis Industry. Everything's fucked up. The regulations are asinine. It's ran by people who are misinformed disinformed and have no idea what they're talking about. I mean, we have a town nearby here who we were talking to the woman who wrote the cannabis regulations and they banned everything. The only thing they wanted in their town was extracts and edibles and their thought was that nobody's going to steal them and they didn't understand it. And so Shannon went in to talk to the lady who wrote all the regulations explain who we were explained that we grew CBD dominant cannabis that we made it tinctures that we infused whole flower into organic olive oil and that we were organic cultivators. We didn't use pesticides, you know, we were companion planting we're developing biodiversity on our farm and after Shannon explained everything to her trying to find out why the regulations were so draconian and she says well, I have two questions for you first: What's CBD and what's a tincture? And we had to look at you wrote the regulations! You wrote the Cannabis regulations for your town and you don't know what the fuck you're talking about. And that's where we come up against and I've been the angry activist. I've been out there yelling. I've been out there screaming at people going. You don't know what you're talking about. And it wasn't always successful and majority of the time it wasn't and that's when we had to become Educators. We had to learn everything we could so that we could go meet these people on their own level and then give them good solid verifiable information that they could verify for themselves. And that's kind of the Genesis of High Tide Distro of how we became an education distribution company and how we became educators in the space because in order for us to keep doing what we do we had to educate the people in our way to show them what we were trying to do because they were misinformed. 80 years of drug prohibition. 80 years of propaganda and lies and a drug war that has turned. I mean, you know you grew up with Nancy Reagan and Just Say No and you know turn in your parents if they're doing bad things, you know, that's as a kid that takes a lot to get over especially like dealing with my dad, you know, he's now a hundred percent disabled Vietnam Vet. I just had to go home and help him get his leg amputated above the knee mid thigh during the middle of the pandemic and the pills they were giving him or knocking him down and he couldn't think and they're here they're making them in cotton and he was stuck in a hospital bed and just miserable and hurting and foggy and not knowing what was going on and and it was destroying him but he still wouldn't touch cannabis because then the government was going to come take his guns and take his property and he was terrified and like I said he was chairman of the board of Washington State Optometry, and he's educated and has a medical background and no matter the evidence I showed him it was nope that's drug it's wrong can't do it. And that's a lot of what we come up against and so we started seeking out all of the people that were the experts in the field. We started Martin Lee at that project CBD with Sarah Russo and and finding, Dr. Ethan Russo her father who is one of the top researchers in the country and dr. Bonnie Goldstein and dr. Dustin Sulak and dr. Christina Sanchez and everybody knows, you know, Raphael Mechoulam and all these people we had to physically go to their lectures and their seminars and their classes to learn directly from them what was happening in cannabis research what the real information was and then we took that information back with us, and we went and we shared it at dispensaries at veterans groups elder care nursing homes at any place that people would listen to us or where we ran into an issue in trying to forward cannabis in our community. We offered free cannabis education classes and we would sit down and talk to people and find the level of their understanding and knowledge and then give them the next few steps of it and say try not to overwhelm them try not to browbeat them with ya know, no you're wrong, you don't know what you're talking about. But here is the research, here is the evidence, when they say well there's just not enough studies on them. Like well, have you ever heard of William O'Shaughnessy, have you heard about the hemp report that was done in the 1800's by Britain, read that report showing how it's wonderful, it's efficacious. There's no long-term harm. Nobody's ever been killed by it. And then you take that and then you go to the LaGuardia report that happened right after you know, the the tax stamp act which basically made cannabis and hemp illegal in the United States LaGuardia did a report which verified and backed up they hemp report for the British Hemp Report and then you fast forward all of that through prohibition and you get to the actual start of the War On drugs officially titled under Nixon and he commissioned the Shaffer report which was doctors and researchers and everybody in there to do it. And when that came back it verified LaGuardia report it verified the Hemp Act or the Hemp Research Act Indian Hemp Act from the 1800's and they're all saying this is a beneficial plant. This helps people. It makes lives better and even people who abuse it really causes them no harm in their still functioning people in society. But people keep doing this research away and bury in fact Nixon had every copy of the Schaefer report destroyed so he can go on and then Ehrlichman who was part of the Nixon campaign and then later Administration. He was quoted in 1995 in a Harper's magazine article when they asked him about the war on drugs and Nixon's attitude towards cannabis, and he said listen in the Nixon campaign and 68 in the Nixon Administration after that the two biggest hurdles they had to achieving their goals was the anti-war movement and the black community and they couldn't make it illegal to be anti-war and they couldn't make it illegal to be black. But what they could do is vilify behaviors within those communities and make those illegal so they can arrest them and destroy their families and break up their communities and break up their groups and scatter them to the winds. And that's what their world was about and then he was quoted as saying did we know that this was the drugs weren't bad. This wasn't about the drugs. Of course we did and so when we go to these people that are anti cannabis who say listen, there is no medical or logical reason why this plant was ostracized and banned and burned and everybody around it was arrested shot and scattered to the wind there we got to show that the basis of this was wrong. And so from the failed logic at the beginning of this it means why is this a schedule-1 drug now? And we still have people saying that there's no research to show that it's okay like just Google cannabis research and there's thousands upon thousands of reports but the first . . .
Levi: It's laziness!
Cam: Any Cannabis research done in the United States has to be done with cannabis grown by Mississippi University and it's horrible garbage. It's less than 5 percent THC. It's moldy. It's roty. It's got seeds in it, they grind it up to where it's dust. They don't want to prove the effectiveness of cannabis. In fact, the N.I.D.A is responsible for approving all cannabis research in the United States and their mandate from Congress is to show the deleterious or the harmful effects of cannabis. So they won't even approve any research that shows this is what cannabis is good for and great. It's great that we have people like, dr. Ethan Russo on this case because he's figured out how to write a study saying. Hey, we're going to do a study on cannabis showing. Oh, it's bad for this. It's bad for this. It's bad for this but on the flip side that same study is going to show that it's also a benefit here and it's great for society there and for this condition and we know that it does this this and this and it's just it's taking the slow battle of attrition giving people facts and then we come teach these classes and we talk about cannabis to people we don't walk in saying -- Hey listen to us where experts cannabis fixes everything! Like no. These are the facts. This is what actually happens in your body. This is how this is and here's the research report I got this information from. Here is the doctor that I learned this from here is the report that this is from and we make sure all of our sources are open and shareable. And we give them freely away. And that's where the things I love about the Cannabis Industry is it's very inclusive. It's very arms open. It's very welcoming and sharing and loving -- If you're about the plant, but there's a lot of people that come in with bad intentions or they see this as a green rush and that we just throw out seeds and rake in money that you know, that's not what this is about, you know. That's going to happen in any industry, but the majority of people who especially those of us who have survived this long into the Cannabis Industry, we're not making money, we're not rich, you know, that's not here. We're here because we love the plant, we love what it can do and we're here because of passion and that's what all of us and you're the same way and we're both in the same boat. We love whole plant medicine. We love talking to the patients. We love trying to do it better and grow higher quality with less impact on the soil. We're actually we're improving soil. Where we grow cannabis we leave it better than we found it. I've had to start three outdoor farms to match regulations in Sonoma County. I've been zoned out twice and every time we leave a farm we leave it better than we found it.
Levi: Yup. The regenerative farming that is going on with hemp right now on the national scale and that's been going on in California and Emerald Triangle is extremely progressive. I don't think people really realize the big scope of agriculture in America. You know, everything used to be organic right a long time ago. I think the first synthetic fertilizer was invented in the late eighteen hundreds, but these synthetics weren't really used. And synthetic fertilizers they can crystallize and harden the soil but it's really the sprays that are being used, the herbicides, the pesticides that are being that our food that you buy in the grocery store is is probably laden with it, and if you lab tested an orange, you know, a non-organic orange at the grocery store I doubt it would pass California's pesticide requirements.
Cam: In fact, a lot of the things we do a lot of manufacturing work with a lot of other people who manufacture their own products. And the CAT 3 testing we do in California is more stringent than any organic product on the store. In fact, we're seeing a lot of organic products being made in the Cannabis space failing lab testing because they're organic flavorings. Oranges are one of the worst I've seen so many people fail California lab testing because their organic oranges have too many pesticides.
Levi: Yeah. I think people would be shocked. I think a lot of people operate under the false assumption that the FDA regulates everything. I've talked to a lot of Bud tenders about this in the past and people have said oh, yeah, you know, I mean food at the grocery stores regulated by the FDA. It's all lab tested and it's like no, no it's definitely not. Cannabis is being held to the most strict agricultural standard of any crop that's ever been produced in the history of the world. I mean as a farmer, I mean you guys at Fiddler's Greens are vertical so you've been cultivators as well as manufacturers and distributors. So you kind of know the full scope of this business. I guess the only thing you haven't been is a retailer for cannabis. Thank God. Yeah, but you know the challenges that farmers are up against and also the challenges that people are up against new brought up a lot and we need to have like 20 more podcast with you because the history of the legality of cannabis is a really important piece of Head Change and what I want to talk about because this is I believe that cannabis right now in the United States is the most important issue in the world. And on a couple different fronts, but one is on the criminal justice front. We need to decriminalize cannabis today so that people stop going to jail for smoking a joint like you and I are doing and so that people can have their records expunged and they can get back in and they can get their life back on track. You shouldn't have your entire life derailed because you got caught with a little bit of pot. It's absurd.
Cam: You can't get a College loan. You can't go to school. If you have a cannabis conviction.
Levi: That needs to change today. And the other reason why I think this is the most important issue that anyone can be talking about is the full federal legalization of cannabis is is access to medicine for people who need it, and that includes, you know, we all need this plant for sure, but I'm really thinking of little kids that have, you know, epilepsy in have these rare rare seizures that the only thing that's working from them is CBD and they can't get it. Now. We have GW Pharma with some products now out there with Epidiolex, but that took a long time for even that to get through the FDA trials and people need access to their medicine and also Vets, which is one of the things I want to talk to you and you know as a former Marine and I'd like to hear more about your dad is your dad using cannabis. Do you give him cannabis products?
Cam: I do. He has an entire menu of all of our tinctures and topicals and things on the side like I was saying I had to go help him have his leg amputated this year and he has previously had a stroke and a heart attack which both things we know that phytocannabinoids help, they rebuild neural connections. They help the body balance itself. It brings the body into homeostasis and he has been on opioids for so long for his injuries from Vietnam and thirty years of standing on a concrete floor, seeing patients, you know in his iconic his body's pretty battered and bruised and when I saw him it was it hurt so much to see him in that condition stuck in a hospital bed and not able to move and just out of it from all the opioids he was taking just to not be in pain and he self-medicated my entire life, you know, he's always had to self-medicate just to function and it was amazing that I went up to be with him. And while I was there he couldn't sleep and he was almost in tears and I gave him some of our OG Rogue, which is OG flower, it's a high THC infused into the olive oil and I gave him yeah, maybe 10 milligrams before bed was saying can't sleep and every night he can't sleep it gets worse. And so I finally after a couple drinks admittedly. I got him to take, you know, maybe 10 milligrams an hour later he goes. I'm not feeling anything give me more of that and I'm like, okay, so I gave him another 20 milligrams. I'm like, he's either going to have a bad time or this is really going to help and I was prepared to sit with them and because I've overmedicated so many times and you know the good and the bad of it is it makes you really introspective. It makes you look at your life and go. Hey, I've been kind of a dick. I need to kind of adjust what I've been doing.
Levi: Yeah life gets shoved right up in your face
Cam: Cannabis teaches you lessons. And I gave him another 30 milligrams as we probably had 40 milligrams total of whole flower cannabis, but he slept and he slept well and the next day his eyes were brighter. He was more coherent. He was there with us and present. And he felt good and so we did that for a couple days. But then after he started feeling better, he's like, oh, I don't need this anymore and he walked away from it. So it's going to be one of those to keep going and you know, and he's always afraid that the government is going to come and take his guns and arrest everybody. Epilepsy and things like that, that's actually where we're getting a lot of the good data and research right now because we have groups like Whole Plant Access for Autism on Facebook, and that's Jenny Mia and oh my goodness, she's going to kill me I forgot her name, but these two ladies are both parents of just special needs children and they've started the support group where they are trying everything real time and they're taking notes and logs and they're showing hey cbda works great for this type of epilepsy. But if you give it to a child with this type of level up see they're going to have cluster seizures and then for these kids over here, you need these amount of terpenes, but if you give them a low dose of CBD along with pinene, or limonene they're going to be you know, a hyperactive tasmanian devil on your hands. But if you give them more linalool and you give them CBG with CBD on a higher dose, then you're not going to have the stimming you're not going to have the seizures and so we're really looking to these parents and these mothers in these groups that are doing the real-time research so we can take that data and share it because we're not getting the real research we need done by our government.
Levi: You're right and it's kind of the wedge. It's like the foot in the door because no one can argue with helping little kids, you know and people shouldn't argue . .
Cam: Babies and puppies, you know Jody Starr everywhere he goes, we're saving babies and puppies. Do you hate babies and puppies?
Levi: Right, and it's true and you know, a lot of people can argue a lot of people think we'll be don't you know, I want to unpack a couple things because one of the things that I think is is happening is, you know, vets are federal employees, so there's a lot of worry about cannabis which is federally illegal and an access to this so instead they go down what is legal to them which is prescription drugs, opiates that are very harmful very addictive and alcohol and alcohol and painkillers when combined are lethal we have a tremendous amount of over does overdoses in this country from that combination and from opiates. So we're forcing a very at risk population with former vets into legal channels that are far more harmful and then if they do want to access safe whole plant medicine they have to pursue illicit channels. So it's something that we really need to pay attention to. But yeah, thank God for the research that's coming out.
Cam: And risk losing their pensions and their benefits and everything if they're caught.
Levi: Right. The odds are stacked against cannabis and why -- that's one of the big questions that I want an answer to. Is why in 2021 is cannabis still illegal? I was reading some stats. 83% of vets want legalized cannabis. A majority of Republicans now, 51 percent of Republicans want to legalize cannabis. We all know us hippies want it legalized. So what are we waiting for? What's the holdup? Is this going to drag on for another 40 years? Is that what we're up against? Why I know this is a huge nut to crack but it needs . . . profit motive?
Cam: Cannabis has been in the U.S. pharmacopoeia from the mid 1800's on and for almost 75 years cannabis was in the majority of all medications you can get from a pharmacy. If you go back and look at it. It was one of the primary sources in the American pharmacopoeia as an anti-inflammatory as a pain reliever as a calming agent. It's in every type of patent medicine that was ever used and what we see started happening and where it came from was there's a guy named Anslinger and he was a Treasury Agent and he was part of the prohibition agents. And so when prohibition was ending his department was getting cut and they're all going to be turned loose and so all of these law enforcement agents who are corrupt to begin with under prohibition we're going to lose their jobs and they had to find something else to rally around and Anslinger decided that cannabis was the thing and he actually has quotes of him before he started the war on cannabis saying that oh, it's poppycock, it doesn't cause, everybody says that it riles people up and it gets them angry and it's bad news. I don't see that from this plant and then once he realized he can weaponize cannabis in order to keep his job and to start enforcing what he sees as social correctness. He was very angry had he was very racist especially against the black Jazz musicians at the time and there's a great book out there by Johann Hari called Chasing The Scream and I believe they may even made a movie about it with talking about Billie Holiday, but when he first started going after this we also had you can have to edit this part get a little brain farty.
Levi: Nope. This is the good stuff. Yeah so The Marihuana Tax Act so that that was kind of like the first big piece of legislation that put a really heavy tax burden on cannabis. Before the Tax Act in '37 you could actually get a medical prescription for marijuana from the from my understanding of history.
Cam: I don't even think you needed it and it was called hemp then it was never called marijuana until Anslinger made it that . .
Levi:And they spelled it M A R I H U A N A
Cam: And marijuna had nothing to do with cannabis even in the Mexican vernacular. It's always been cannabis or hemp or Indian Hemp and that's how they got the bill passed to outlaw it is because if they were to said we're going to outlaw hemp there wouldn't have been anybody in the government that would have voted for it because it was one of the prime products. In fact on the old $20 bills they were made out of hemp with the picture of a farm farmer harvesting hemp and to be a colonist in the United States in the sixteen hundreds you are mandated as a landowner to grow x amount of hemp for the crown for your taxes. Hemp was used as a currency and it's been grown all the way through but when Anslinger got going on it, then he started going with all the yellow journalism and they started I'm just having a brain fart moment this morning. What was the newspaper magnate, back east?
Levi: Hearst. William Randolph Hearst.
Cam: Hurst? Yeah, William Randolph Hearst. Well, he owned all these newspapers and he had large tracts of forest to harvest and to log to create the paper for it. And at this time the decor decatur was coming about which was making the processing of hemp for cord fiber much easier and faster. So he threatened his paper mills and at the same time Dupont was coming out with nylon, which was going to replace rope and so they started this smear campaign and that's where you start seeing Reefer Madness. That's where you start seeing the articles one of the first ones that came out was about this Mexican family in Texas that was poor and so they started eating the local weeds in their backyard. And now the whole family is clinically insane and you know, you hear the old newsreels with this and from the Loco weed marijuana and if people would have said hey, this is hemp, they would have known it was bullshit. But that's where it started and it was anslinger and Dupont and Hurst and then also starting to get get into that's when we started having the they outlawed cannabis and by 1940 had it completely removed from the pharmacopoeia for the United States and then they needed a resurgence of it during World War Two. So there's a film that came out were time film called Hemp For Victory where they came out and talked about getting your permit to go help because the Navy needs lines for the ships and sales and bags in canvas. We need all of this and then as soon as that was over they actually destroyed every copy of Hemp For Victory to cover up that they needed to legalize marijuana to win the war effort.
Levi: Well, you're a sailor. I mean hemp is still used, hemp fiber for rope.
Cam: It's the best it has salt water where in fact, I think it's USS Constellation back East it still has its rigging and sails made from hemp and the term canvas was actually a derivation of the term cannabis hemp has been used. It's wonderful for cocking the Ships that the lines don't corrode in the salt water. In fact, I have schools. I have schools of hemp twine right here that I use for lashings when I was on my boat kindred spirit. I did all of my mousing in my rapping from my anchor chain to my road is all hemp.
Levi: Yeah, I mean this is what's really crazy and like I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but this is a conspiracy that Industrial Hemp okya. Hemp that's grown for fiber that doesn't even produce any psychoactive cannabinoids at all, is illegal or was up until 2018. I mean 2018 the u.s. Farm bill finally legalized Industrial Hemp that's cannabis with less than 0.3% THC.
Cam: Well, in fact was written by a Canadian botanist that has nothing to do with the delineation of any form of cannabis that 0.3% means nothing. It has no bearing on anything. So basically what the farm bill did was make THC illegal.
Levi: So right exactly, exactly and before, so the 1937 Tax Act there was there was kind of this coalition of forces on the one hand you had Hearst and his paper mills and his paper production and hemp was a major threat to paper mill production because it you can hemp is the fastest growing plant on land. Trees take forever to grow. It's obviously a much better choice for paper material for paper pulp. So Hurst had a lot of money and used the Reefer Madness kind of use the power of his media empire to demonize cannabis and very racial tones that has carried on so has the illegalization of industrial hemp and a friend of mine recently put it this way, he said, isn't it kind of funny that now we're legalizing hemp right when basically everything's digitized. I mean the paper industry is pretty much done. You know, I mean, there's very little the government probably still prints out more paper than anybody, but I think there's something to that. I think there's literally something to the fact that the powers that be friendly said -- profits on paper are now so low that it's not really a concern. Let's go ahead and legalize industrial hemp and we'll probably wait for Big Pharma to finally have all of the research and patents on cannabinoids, which they're doing as fast as they can.
Cam: The government already has patents on cannabinoids as antioxidants.
Levi: As soon as they know that they can make sure that they can funnel any of the money that comes out of this industry into their hands they'll legalize cannabis. And this is the big fight of our times. I mean, you're a mom and pop cannabis brand like me and California is making it really difficult to be a mom and pop business in this state. You almost have to have millions of dollars of funding hundreds of millions of dollars of funding to really compete and that's what they want because then they can funnel it into the correct channels, they can they can they don't want people to know that they can grow a plant in their backyard that can probably replace nine out of their 10 medications, you know, if not, all of them.
Cam: That's an important thing that we feel should be in any decriminalization or legalization bill is personal grow. Everybody should be able to grow their own plants. It should be ubiquitous and we hear about oh that is going to be crime. There's going to be crime around grows and around here I have neighbors that have signs up on their fences says -- no commercial pot in my neighborhood. Where my farm is bio diverse no pesticides and I look over up there grape vines or whatever they're doing and we have people out there spraying and tilling and tearing up the soil. I think everybody should grow this that way it's who's going to steal it when everybody can grow it a little bit reduced a lot of crime in it.
Levi: Absolutely and there's still that stigma against this plant. I mean Jeff Sessions the former Attorney General said not that long ago the only bad people smoke marijuan.
Levi: And a lot of people unfortunately still believe that and I think I think the Christian Community is still really grappling with this. I know there's a lot . . .
Cam: Which is great because cannabis is in the Bible. There's a mistranslation in the Septuagint from the Greek where calamus and Canaboson where cannabis was used in the Holy Anointing Oil the Tabernacles of the rabbi's they were burning cannabis flower and seeds as their incense. It's all throughout there and then What is it Genesis 1:21? And God said I give to you all seed bearing plants and I love going at my dad was very religious. And so I used a lot of that to be able to say look it's been around. It's not a new thing. It's not scary.
Levi: It's not and I think when when you provide people with good information, you know, when you need to talk about the studies from from real doctors and real researchers that show how beneficial this plant is and how I virtually has little to no toxicity it starts to change people's minds but it really is like a battle for hearts and minds because of the amount of propaganda and the decades of demonizing, you know this plant for personal use or for industrial purposes. And that's what still just mind-boggling to me is that you know, like Kentucky now right talk about flipping the switch. You got Mitch McConnell and the Senate, his state of Kentucky used to be the largest grower of him back in the day. Well, they want to be again, they want to grow they want to grow a lot of industrial hemp and they want to grow a lot of him flower that can be processed into CBD oil because it's lucrative, you know and money talks and eventually the money is going to I think overwhelm the business community and people, you know, the green rush has already happened and we've kind of seen the first wave or two of that in California, but there will be more once the federal legalization is eminent once it's like, alright, this is happening the next year or two and I don't think we're there yet. We're going to see another green rush a bigger one. And now we have Canada and Mexico legalized on both our North and South border, which is going make things very interesting with import and export. It's just coming to the point where we have to change the federal laws. The people don't want it this way the business community largely doesn't want it this way, but there's still I don't think people fully appreciate the power of the propaganda campaign against this plant how successful it was. I mean, if you want to look at how to wage a successful marketing campaign, look at how the government has at least a negative marketing campaign, look at how the government has demonized marijuana. They did a great job of it. I mean they put their best and brightest minds on that job to make marijuana public enemy number one to make people question its scientific validity still hear this bullshit all the time. Andrew Cuomo just said marijuana's a gateway drug like two years ago. Okay. These guys should know better . . .
Cam: It's a gate way out of drugs.
Levi: It's a gate way out of drugs, exactly.
Cam: And they've also found you know these guys when they did the Just Say No campaign. They have statistically shown that in communities where they had Just Say No programs they have a higher drug use out of that. It soured people. It showed people the government lies. It's blatant out in the open everybody knows somebody who's smoked pot and nobody's ever died from it, nobody jumps off a building, nobody does these horrific things The War On Drugs says. New York just legalized and you know they made it so you know you can smoke cannabis publicly wherever you smoke a cigarette. That's going to be a game changer, because you know all of them, millions of people in New York they can't grow enough in New York for New York. So this is going to be you know, hopefully the impetus to interstate commerce once we get interstate commerce it's going to be, let's keep Idaho out of this and God bless Idaho, you know, I grew up there I went to the University of Idaho. I have a lot of family in Idaho, but man set me up. The one thing they are doing is they're making dispensary owners in Oregon and Washington rich, you know, they've got that Prohibition in Idaho and then right across the border you've got dispensaries and those are the highest selling dispensaries in those States
Levi: Interesting. Yeah, people are coming across the border. Kinda like how you use to go to Canada, you know to drink when you're under age is the drinking laws.
Levi: So you I was looking at your Instagram you've recently started selling flower because I know like me you've really been dedicated to tinctures and a variety of the minor cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA, but you've recently started selling your Captain's Stash flower, which is I think really cool. What made you decide to start selling flower?
Cam: Well we started with flower and we've always done flower. And then when we got into making tinctures and the medicinal side and the Healing Balm it took up so much of our effort and we turned our entire cultivation space over to those strains and we wanted to grow consistent strain-specific flowers. And once you develop something like that and you have medicinal patients, you need to keep a reliability and consistency. So we can't go sourcing clones and things like that from different places because they might have a different cannabinoid or terpene profile and we have people that depend on what we're putting out. What we started doing is we over the years because we couldn't find a distribution or anybody to represent Fiddler's greens and what we did we had to go out on the road and do it ourselves. Like you know, we live on the road knocking on doors talking to purchasers talking to patients and we were out on the road doing this and knocking on thousands. I've been in over a thousand dispensaries in the last 10 years and we found that we couldn't find anybody to represent us the way we needed to be represented. So we went back to doing it ourselves and we develop relationships with the stores. We develop relationships with the bud tenders. We offer free cannabis education on dosing and cannabinoids and how to choose the right product. Not just hey buy Fiddler's we're the best, we say -- this is the way we find a product for ourselves. This is how you should find a product for you and then developing those relationships. We started talking to all our fellow community members and they're finding they had the same problem being small batch craft farmers or people that didn't have large funding. For them their only option was to sell their flower at a discount to somebody who just going to blow it into oil or it's going to be white labeled into somebody else's thing that nobody knows who the farmer is or the Appalachian and so as a continuation of what we're doing with our CBD and Fiddler's Greens we started rallying these small family farms saying we know you don't have a budget to brand your own flower and by packaging and have your own distribution team in your own sales team to get out there, but what we can do is we can take the Fiddler's brand and we could say we want to have the Fiddler's family of farms. We want to find the people that are doing it the right way that care about the plant that are part of the community want to give back to the community and we want to make sure that their front and center and represented all the way to the end consumer. So we are taking some of the best flower who can find that small batch craft organic sun grown grown by beautiful families here in Northern California, and we want to make sure that there's a clear channel for them to get to the consumers and that the consumers can go, oh you work with Soul Spirit Farms and Walter and Judy up inTrinity County 20-year regenerative soil. Everything is solar and wind driven and they raise their own food and they do glamping on their site, you know, we want that to come through other than somebody saying, oh it's a bag of weed. I want the indoor that's 22 percent instead of the outdoor that's nineteen percent. And so that's the that's how we started the Captain's Stash doing the flower and you know, where smokers to and you know, every time we see each other we all pull out the jars of what we have or what we've been given and we all share and it feels like we're doing that down the road and we also think that now as things are starting to go more legal nationwide that you know, indoor is wonderful. I love indoor there's good stuff, but there's no terroir. There's no appalachian. The same indoor that you can grow in the desert here, you can grow an Oklahoma, you can grow in New York. You're not going to see any variation in indoor. Everybody's going to be buying the same lights using the same system to feed. And they're going to be doing the same turn. But when you grow like David's Thunder Wookie or his strawberry banana or one of these great cultivars here in the Petaluma windgap. You can taste the difference of that flower growing in the sun and the soil and having, you know, everything the cannabinoids and terpenoids our responses and defense systems for the plant. So in the plant is predated on by insects or deer or the wind blows where the soil you know, how is your your your mycorrhiza in your soil biome how Is that living that's going to affect the flavor and the taste and you're going to find unique strains that excel really well and unique terroir. We want to make sure that that gets saved preserved and move through so everybody can see where that comes from. Like here, our AC/DC that we grow for our tincture. If you grow it indoors, it's like an octopus on quaaludes it just lays there you have to trellis it up. It doesn't want to do anything and it you would think it's a really weak genetic. But you put it out here in this hard clay soil with this heavy hot windy days in these cold foggy nights and she stands up like she's a rock star. She's out there just huge and she has a cannabinoid profile the CBD level and it's been going up every year that we've been growing here. And we want to make sure that that kind of flower gets represented to the market, because when we walk into a dispensary the first thing a purchasing manager says is, I don't buy anything under 20%
Levi: Which is stupid.
Cam: Well then you obviously don't understand cannabis.
Levi: Yup. You know a lot of it, a lot of people say that's just what cutomers want, but the buyers acting as a middle man and buyers typically are heavy smokers and heavy THC consumers. So their tolerances so high.
Cam: Uneducated. You know all of us. We are all heavy smokers. We can smoke all day every day. We can do dads we can smoke hash we smoke whatever we want. But our favorite strain here is Forbidden Fruit, it's 13 to 15 percent THC, but it's got this broad terpene profile. That's that's what makes everything, you know THC is THC.
Levi: It's like being a teenager, you know and you go to the liquor store and you want Everclear because it's got the most alcohol, you know, and it's like I want to get effed up and that's what it's all about smoking weed can be about that. That's fine. But you can also in kind of have a more adult experience and enjoy the subtler effects and and people also to understand that just because the THC is lower. doesn't mean you're going to get less high? It really depends on the terpene profile and you know, I went up for harvest up to Mendo and tried probably nineteen different strains many of them testing into the mid 30's 34 percent THC strains and those are fine. You know, I enjoyed them, but my favorite one was one that was 14 percent THC literally it because it was just such an enjoyable smoke and I didn't get paranoid. It was just a nice high and I think there's a lot of people out there that have probably tried cannabis and are afraid to try it again because it's too strong and they need to try some of these lower THC. I think there's a huge future for lower THC varietals that the current dispensary model is not doing a good job of representing. We need we need like a farmers market model where the growers can go direct to the customer and say here's my jars of all my different strains with the test results right in front of them. They can try a little bit. You know, they can walk around like you walk around the farmers market now and you can try a little sample of the green juice smoothie and you go and try this guy's plum and you walk around the market and you try everybody stuff and then you go and buy what you liked. What that's what we need in the cannabis space the dispensary model is not serving the community or the grower, especially at all.
Cam: That's what I feel like we're doing for people is we're going out and finding these farms we're going out and meeting these people and finding these amazing cultivars and then we're curating them and bringing them into people and hopefully, you know, I will have to do that for people that they'll be able to go to the farm. Well now you can go to Walter and Judy's farm and camp there. It's traditionally cannabis wasn't this high THC. It was more of a balance 1:1 ratio, in fact, if you look at DEA reporting up through the mid 90s, the average THC content of flower that was confiscated or seized was less than 5% If I percent THC in there and it's interesting that when cannabis went into prohibition and they started sending helicopters and the military out here with the C.A.M.P. raids that it wasn't safe to grow cannabis naturally outdoors anymore the way that it has throughout all of human history, so they said we're tired of getting shot in the face. Let's move this indoors. And so cannabis got switched indoors. And I liken it to the bootlegging movement of prohibition because when prohibition happened it didn't make sense to brew beer. It didn't make sense to make wine because it was such large quantities of low alcohol percentage. It didn't make sense to ship that much. It was too dangerous. So they started making moonshine and bootleg liquor that was highly concentrated highly potent that they can hide and smuggle easily. I see that is the same way with cannabis being grown indoors people. And trying to get the more bang for their buck and make it easier to send, you know, a hundred back, you know somewhere else. And they starting breeding the CBD out and the THC up even if they didn't know that specifically what they were doing they were trying to find that more potent flower and now I think we're coming back to balance and everything cannabis is bringing our body into homeostasis and balance. We need to bring cannabis back to homeostasis and balance.
Levi: Right? Yeah. I couldn't agree more and you know right now I'm thankful that hemp is legal and you can sell these CBD Rich varieties, but the ones I really am interested in are are the like one to one ratio strains, you know, 5% each 7-8 percentage each the people who have never smoked a 1:1 you gotta try it.
Cam: These are our pre-rolls. You've smoked lots of these. This is a one-to-one strain and four years ago we were putting the terpene profiles on this. Yep, because this is what we love to smoke and you're absolutely right. It's going to come back and when we open it up and allow everybody to do it you're going to have those people grow in the high fuel jet gas going full speed out there and then you're going to have the people that are drawing the nice little larfy outdoor stuff that you know, as a delicate little smoke and maybe not intoxicated, but we're going to fill the entire spectrum of cannabis products and there's going to be a market for all of it. There's going to be a need for all of it. We just wait for one time for the conservatives to not be for the free market if they need to be for this free market. It's going to so many jobs. Allow everybody to grow its going to change the face of communities, especially if we start growing food as part of our biodiversity in our cannabis, you know, I see cannabis cultivation as a way to change the face of our communities to make them more functional and smaller groups. We don't need to be shipping our food across the country. We don't need to be you know, having centralized processing centers, you know, if we brought all of those things back to the community the jobs will be in the community. The cultivation would be in the community and any excess could be shipped off but I think cannabis in the cultivation is going to change the way we view how we're going to function in society.
Levi: I think I think you're right. I think I think cannabis is once we kind of can as a society work through this and get this right. I think it's going to lead to a lot of other things, an agricultural renaissance America used to be a huge agricultural power we still are but we must have become what we shifted to a manufacturing power now. Really we're really just like a data-power. You know, we collect the world's data basically and we spy on everybody. Right and the model we're living under is not sustainable and I think cannabis is something that as a really divided country we can actually agree on because even if you don't like to get high yourself or aren't into it, you can't argue with the job creation the revenue growth and then sure is personal freedom personal choice. I'm an adult and if I want to use this product that is mind-altering I have the right to it shouldn't prevent me from owning a firearm or violate my constitutional rights. I shouldn't have to pee into a cup to get a job because I choose as an adult to use a mind-altering substance that I enjoy that has medical benefits, you know, we're still living under this repressive prohibition mentality that I think once we're actually released from it's like for anybody in this Is probably a stupid example but I can't help but think of it. If you've never been to New Orleans and then you go to New Orleans for the first time and you're like I can smoke in the bars and I can just take my drink to go and walk down the street to the next bar and it's like why isn't it like this everywhere? This is so fun. You know, like why are we being treated like kindergarteners as grown adults that are driving cars that are flying airplanes that are owning firearms. Why can't we have the right to use plants and substances the way that we choose. I mean, I'm all for legalizing all drugs personally. I'm a complete libertarian on this.
Cam: Dr. Carl Heart has some great information on that. And also I can't recommend Chasing The Screen by Johann Hari enough.
Levi: Yeah, I wrote that down. I'm definitely going to check that out. I feel like I know, let's see. I know we've probably gone over a little bit but this is all sense good stuff, and I didn't really get a chance to talk to you enough about Vets. So I want to bring you back on me. We can talk about that another time. Maybe we can dive into you know so much about the research. I know you've spent a lot of time going to these conferences and listening to these doctors and researchers speak and I think you have a lot of valuable information to share and I think your approach it from a really sane perspective and you're also a fun and cool person to talk to Cam. So I would love to have you back on the show.
Cam: These are the conversations that we've been having for years and you and I met and we do we make very similar products. We do a lot of the same things and I've never seen you as competition. And I don't think you've ever seen me that way, even though we are, you know, competing for the same shelf space. That's one of the beautiful things about this. There's no way in the world. We're going to fill the void that is needed for cannabis products and medicine and the more that we can support you the more it's going to improve the entire community and we've had these conversations for years on how can we move forward as a community? Not how am I going to get my brand off the ground and how am I going to get am I going to get mine? And I don't see it the people who are all about. How do I get mine in this industry? They're finding themselves more and more isolated. And the people I think it's taken us this long to all of us that had our brands in our farms. We were all running out there trying to get established and trying to get into this booming industry. And now we're seeing that I think it might almost be a benefit that they've tortured us so badly in the rollout of California regulation that is forcing all of a small family product makers and farmers to rally together and support each other and form community groups. We just founded the very first cannabis Grange hall in the United States here in Sebastopol. We got the S.C.G.A a we're all out there every day were writing letters to each other we show up to community groups and because we're seeing the bullshit they're putting us through its forcing us to wrap our arms around each other and a lot of the corporate interest coming in there just looking at the bottom line. They don't get it. They don't understand it. So that means they're not at the table.
Levi: Yep. Yep. No, I think you're right. It is hardening us. You know, I mean, it's like I've been watching The Last Dance. It's like the bowl is playing the Pistons for all those years, you know, getting their ass kicked like we're all we're getting hardened those that are going to survive are going to come out the other side, you know, some some battle-hardened vets for sure.
Cam: With big empathetic hearts.
Levi: That's right. That's right. And but I think you know, I just just to kind of touch on this a little bit before I let you go but I don't you know, I it's so important to me and I know it is to you guys to to preserve the heritage of this industry that's existed on the west coast really for a long time and all over the country every other sections of this country. That really do have a cannabis heritage including the Appalachia including New York, but I don't think anywhere really competes with California, especially Northern California and people that don't know the quality of Sonoma just a plug you guys a little bit. Sonoma grows some of the some fire and if you've never tried sonoma sun grown flower anybody that's listening to this should go out and buy some Captain Stash or find a farm that's from Sonoma and give it a try and then the next week try some Humboldt's sun grown and you'll begin to actually understand the terroir and the subtle differences and nuances of soil of you know, one farms biodynamic and other ones, you know regenerative another one's this or that and you really start to dial in you know, like hey, I can really tell the difference now between Mendocino County weed and Humboldt County weed. There's a real different flavor profile and there's a difference between you know, Willits and in Laytonville and you know, and you know, all the Appalaca's inSonoma that to me is so exciting and so fun.
Cam: And the strains are going to thrive in those areas.
Levi: Right? It's we're like were the wine industry was in the 70s right when people are trying to grow Cabernet in Monterey County and it didn't work now Monterey County grows some of the best Pinot Noir in the world, but it took him I'm 30 years to figure out what varietals of Pinot to grow in that region that worked well with the soil with the climate and the same is true for cannabis when you're actually growing the plants in the ground, you know, not not in store-bought Fox Farm soil, but actually using the native soil using low-impact farming methods that when after you leave you've left the environment better. Yes, that's what's different about people like us and the commercial minded people because we're actually doing things that are more expensive more labor. The reward is not short term, but we know it's the right thing to do. And so we're investing in ourselves and our community and in our environment and I think that wins. I think at the end of the day as long as we don't let this period right now shake us out if we can stay strong together. I think at the end of the day the customer if you put a small family farm Organic certified, you know flower in one hand versus commercially grown flower in the other and there's a story behind the one I think not everyone simply we're going to want the jet fuel. That's great. But other people are going to want hey, I want to support that farm. I want to support that region. I really like the way the flavor is I like that. They're not using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and I can taste it. I can feel it in my throat when people are when people are using a bunch of fertilizers. Don't flush their Hydro System. Well enough it can really burn your throat. We don't have to worry about that stuff when your grind naturally you let the plant have a relationship with the soil with the microbial life with the insects you facilitate that relationship and give it the best shot but you're not dominating it, you know, there's this there's this and this is again for another podcast, but the mentality behind indoor hydroponic growing is all about yield and it's all about money and that's great. I don't shame that at all, but there is another market and there's another customer that wants to know that they're spending their money on people that are doing it the right way that care about the birds the bees and the flowers and the trees and a little thing called love because it's all about that at the end of the day.
Cam: When we walk into a dispensary and we're talking to one of the first things we say to them is you as the budtender are going to decide how this market is going to go. You the budtender are going to tell the customers whether they should buy this corporate weed over here in the fancy packaging. That's all jet fuel and high speed or are you going to tell them? Hey, this is a family grown farm. This is sun grown. This is it's up to the bud tenders and now we got to take it to the consumers because like we said the consumer, you know, generally they're uneducated. They don't know that you know, they just don't know what they don't know. And so I think the more we educate them, I think that market where people are going to care where their food and their cannabis come from people are going to care about out the farmer or that it's local those things are to become more important than THC percentage.
Levi: Rght and when somebody buys the small farmers small brand that you're right that money stays in the community rather than going to somebody in Canada, you know or on the east coast an investor and I think that's really important because you know, then the money goes back into your local school districts and the tax system it goes to your neighbor down the street so that you know, he can be a better dad a better person a better member of their community all this stuff really adds up and I think you know in the world of Amazon and big box stores and global supply networks we've totally lost touch with that but I think COViD has been a serious reminder that we need to bring some of our supply chain back it we can grow our own food. We can make our own we need to make certain things in this country so that we're protected and independent from global pandemics from you know, God forbid wars and things like that and growing hemp, like you said during World War II they brought it back because it's so productive because you can grow so fast and requires little water and fertilizer and can produce strong fiber same for new soil. It's necessary. I mean it is we we need to go back to the old days when we actually are giving people money to grow hemp. I mean, can you imagine that like, you know how many millennials like me would love to get a grant to go out and start a hemp farm I bet they would have just they would have applicants like you wouldn't believe people that want to get out of corporate life people that want to get off of their computer people are craving a return to nature. They want to get their hands in the soil. It's good for us. It's what we're supposed to be doing and but you're right. It's up. It's up to us as a community to kind of educate and let people know that there is a difference and hopefully we've done a little bit of that today. I really appreciate you taking the time to be with me today Cam.
Cam: Always man, I can't wait till you see each other again in person
Levi: Definitely will have to have to smoke some of that Captain's Stash and maybe swing the golf clubs around a little bit like cavemen.
Cam: Getting better. I think I think when I played with you is like the third time I ever played golf.
Levi: Yeah. Well, I think I've only played one since then and I still suck so I got to get out there at the Eli and Jody again.
Cam: Meeting Jody at five.
Levi: Are you? NIce. Well tell them what's up for me send them my love and Shannon to and let's do this again. I'd love to have you back on.
Cam: Absolutely I loved it at thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
Levi: Alright. Take care. Bye.
Levi: Thank you for joining me on Head Change, the podcast that puts you in a better headspace. I've been your host Levi Strom. Be sure and join us next time for another episode, and until then. Peace.