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Cannabis and the Cavendish: A Cautionary Word

We must never allow a concentration of commercial strength to permanently destroy the Cannabis plant. 

One of the more unfortunate aspects of legalization is the increasingly obvious reality that the ones who will profit most are not the ones that risked their lives during (and had their lives ruined by) the Prohibition of Cannabis. While draconian stipulations in many states prevent lifelong Cannabis activists from entering the marketplace, those with corporate and political connections get a nice head start.

Meanwhile in the evolving marketplace, acquisitions have been rapidly increasing, and consolidation will continue to occur. After full federal legalization the most powerful companies in the world, the household brand names we all know and patronize out of necessity, will begin buying out even the largest of the Cannabis empires.

These powerful companies essentially run our government already, and it won’t be long before the usual suspects that deliver everything else are also delivering your favorite flowers, extracts, and edibles. Many dispensaries will then be forced to close in the same way so many classic American companies have folded since the advent of online shopping.

Of course, the point is not to shed tears for the dispensary owners or to resist the inevitabilities accompanying legalization, but to get as many people as possible to pay attention to the entering of bad actors to the industry. If profiteers that care only for money and not for the plant are allowed to control as much of the Cannabis industry as they control of other industries, the Cannabis plant as we know it will be destroyed forever.

To illustrate this point, consider the Cavendish banana. The Cavendish is the banana every American sees in the grocery store labeled simply as a banana. Most are naturally unaware that there are actually over 1000 varieties of banana growing around the world. The only reason most Americans know the Cavendish and nothing else is because it stays fresh for a long time and holds up well during shipping, allowing for low costs to the consumer and max profits for the distributors. At some point some corporate chieftain decided that Americans were pretty much only getting Cavendish bananas and that was that. But the comparison between Cannabis and the Cavendish doesn’t end there.

The thing about Cavendish bananas is that they do not have seeds, they are clones. Sound familiar? Clones are a primary means of ensuring that the Cannabis plants you intend to grow have excellent genetics. These massive Cannabis companies taking shape are inevitably going to go down the same path. They will want to control and standardize their product in the same way a fast food restaurant tastes the same whether you are in California or Carolina.

And now consider the increasing number of companies that genetically alter nature’s varied and perfect creations: the monstrosities they create cannot produce their own seeds, thus stripping farmers of any bargaining power or alternative but to buy more from the company. Even the farmers that avoid that perceived life of servitude will just be sued into submission when a gust of wind cross-contaminates their crops. How long before that all happens to Cannabis if corporate greed is left unchecked? How long before every Cannabis plant in the country is held under lock and key by mega-corporations, genetically modified to not produce seeds, microchipped, and left completely subject to the whims of whatever political party happens to be in power at the time? This is obviously a worst-case scenario, but every gain could be reversed permanently overnight.

On a smaller scale, it kind of reminds me of what I will term The Great Humboldt Big Bud Flood of the mid-oughts. For a quick explanation, I was living in Arcata at the time, and there was a strain called Big Bud that was exactly what it sounds like: the plants grew extremely large buds. And since virtually everyone in town grew weed for their livelihoods, that was what most people decided to grow. At that time, you didn’t just go looking for weed, you went looking for weed that wasn’t Big Bud. Not that it was bad, it’s just that variety is the spice of Cannabis, so to speak. And keep in mind we are talking about Arcata, the heart of Humboldt County, California, the very heart of the real resistance to Cannabis Prohibition for almost a century. If something like that could happen to the good people of Humboldt, certainly a coordinated cabal of corporatized Cannabis conspirators could create a calamitous catastrophe for the plant.

One of the most wonderful things about the Cannabis plant is the variety: the variety of strains and the variety of products that can be made. And if there is one thing I am absolutely sure about, it’s that if we allow the control of the Cannabis plant to fall into as few hands as we have let slip the internet or our food supply, that variety is going to disappear.

Tend your kitchens.

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