It’s been a funny few months for our friend Todd, the man best known as HempsterLuna: ever since he decided to move away from Colorado, he’s had to adjust from a lifestyle that allowed him to walk out the house with ounces of bud or plants under each arm to being too terrified of reprisals that he won’t even leave a roach in the ashtray.
Having moved to Minnesota, straight into the heart of Trump territory, he suddenly found himself surrounded by people who consider cannabis to be a sinful sign of a broken soul. He didn’t feel comfortable being himself because people were so negative towards the whole idea of recreational (and to an extent medical) cannabis that he became too scared to smoke a bowl before he went out in public for fear that people would judge him for being stoned. Now, he is left to question how to best proceed when his neighbors are totally spooked by the whole idea of being associated with him. He explains that Minnesota is a strange blend between the atmosphere of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul where they speak of decriminalizing small amounts for personal use) and the reality of the rest of the state where cannabis is totally misunderstood (and where many people won’t even watch the news if they are with friends in case it sparks confrontations). From a very liberal atmosphere in Colorado to an incredibly conservative and closed-minded population in Minnesota, the shift has, understandably, been something of a shock to the system.
What makes his situation even more troubling is that now he finds himself facing the reality of a medical marijuana license from Colorado which is due to expire by the end of July. If he re-applies for a license in Minnesota he will find himself mostly limited to cannabis vaporizer cartridges which simply won’t provide him with the range of medicine he needs. Previously, he has extolled the virtues of using a variety of strains throughout the day to ensure that an individual can meet their own specific needs, but what options does he now have? As an example, when he first began to settle down he met a new friend who was in possession of a medicinal card and they explained to him that they had found that the prescribed cartridges did not provide sufficient relief from their ailments. Being the kind-hearted soul that he is, Todd didn’t hesitate to offer them some indica kief which he had in his stash. They were amazed by the benefits it provided without delivering any negative effects and they couldn’t understand why the official medicinal systems were failing them. He explained that this is the reason that people need to always seek out the truth for themselves and why people need to know more about how the plant can be a good friend to them when it is used properly. As we already know, he is a true caregiver and the inability for him to provide care to those in need is something which troubles him greatly.
What he finds most surprising is that the University of Minnesota has been working on cannabis research for the past thirty years, so surely the state should have access to all of the relevant information which would allow them to make an informed decision. This type of information is essential for the legal side to gather pace and help people fight for legalization, but it seems that Minnesota is not forward-thinking enough to make a significant change. As it stands, people can access vape cartridges and some oils and topical creams but no flower. Add to this the cost of medicines at around $80 per cartridge (which can be used up in a couple of days by some patients) and, in Todd’s experience, it’s simply too great a cost for a lot of people.
Due to his reputation and previous work within the industry, Todd has to be very careful about what he says and to whom as he believes that he will be perceived as someone who is trying to work beyond the confines of the system. With this in mind, he has deleted his Instagram account and tends to stay away from much of the scene he loves because it makes him feel sad that he is missing out on all of the things he has previously been involved in. That’s not to say that he has cut himself off completely, but he has to be far more careful these days. From his perspective as an outsider he still has a few thoughts about how the industry is changing and the knock-on effects of its evolution.
In his eyes, the move towards legalization in California has caused issues in other states. Legalization has had a massive impact because many dispensaries stockpiled large quantities of bud in order to meet perceived levels of demand, but many ended up with excess amounts beyond what was needed or was realistically manageable. With much of this bud having a limited shelf life, it was inevitable that people would look for alternative routes of retail and this meant that vast quantities began to leave the state illegally and flooded the black market. Because there were time pressures involved and many businesses were already profitable, the wholesale and subsequent retail prices were below the average for illicit street cannabis, but the standards were much higher. Todd sees this as a form of trickle-down economics which benefits the consumer, yet the same cannot be said for those who have invested money and time into setting up their own grows. A price war is the kind of thing that can bury small businesses as they find themselves having to sell at a loss simply to avoid an even more catastrophic situation and many of his friends and acquaintances are now finding themselves out of work when they expected to be living large of the back of the green rush.
Further to this, Todd noted that the fluctuating prices on the West Coast have shown that CBD strains are not as cost-effective as THC strains. Many cultivators are now apparently considering a potential switch to the hemp plant for CBD (which is totally reasonable in essence, but there would be no entourage effect that many people require for their treatment) but this means that we have to accept that when cost effectiveness becomes an issue it will impact dramatically on the strains that people choose to grow. Todd wonders if CBD will become a totally separate business which will be dealt with exclusively instead of being spoken of under the umbrella term of cannabis as medicine. With High-CBD clones becoming the industry standard eventually, hemp will become more standardized and some companies have already started to move towards this direction; he believes it is probable for all medical CBD to follow this route eventually.
With the American Dream starting to fall apart in the traditional avenues of big business, a large number of large coverage real estate locations are now sitting empty in Minnesota. Todd perceives that these could become easily converted into grow locations (presenting high profit margins for the owners and ease of access for the cultivation side of things) but it would require that the industry was opened up effectively to ensure that it can make a massive difference to the communities around them. Imagine how much of an economic boost a state could see if it revised the usage of pre-existing sites and allowed more forward thinking to replace outdated means of creating a profit.
He hopes that once the dust settles it will lead to a range of approaches and potentially he believes we could see a final industry where small scale growers can operate in the same way that boutique craft beers work within the mainstream alcohol market. Of course, this is entirely dependent on whether or not the current (or next) government allow for this level of freedom instead of aiming to establish totalitarian control to make sure that nobody else has a chance to make money beyond a select few members of the big business elite.
His current view of America is that the era of Trumpism has made it some parts of America to become an increasingly scary place because people are being swayed by the needs of big business dressed up in the guise of benefits for the people. People are becoming afraid of having open discussions because they are scared of repercussions from those who hold opposing views and many of the promises of Donald Trump in his campaign are sadly holding true. The chickens have come home to roost, as it were, but Todd firmly believes that this is not what the majority of the people want the US to represent. The younger generation is horrified by what they have been seeing and they are mobilizing en masse to make sure that there is a plan to move forward after the current administration comes to an end and Todd believes that the diversity of individuals will be a key swing point over the coming years. He hypothesizes that this is why Trump has started to talk about ‘setting the plant free’ and worries that this is just the same as when he was focusing on the gun advocates in order to get the NRA voters on his side prior to election. He discussed his thoughts on the idea of whether it is it just a lie to manipulate the cannabis vote or if he is actually likely to make good on his word so that he can massage his ego and claim sole responsibility for the victory instead of recognizing the efforts of everyone else over the decades gone by. Todd went on to indicate that it’s hard to know if and when Trump can be trusted or whether or not he should even be credited with any level of success. He is also worried that it seems to be more common than ever for people to be turned against each other on any number of fronts through the usual weapons of mass distraction.
Suspicions always sit around what the ultimate goal of those in power (especially those in Congress who are heavily invested in the prison system and the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to their stock options), so he asks if there is more money in keeping cannabis illegal than there is in creating a taxed and regulated industry? In the meantime he wonders how the market will operate while we await a shift at the Federal level. Todd thinks that the interstate re-sale market model (with strains and medicines being shipped across stateliness and then redistributed through official outlets) is most likely, yet it is undeniable that this is likely to favor the large scale aspects of big business and this could stifle the level of creativity within the industry. One thing he is sure of is that the entire industry will become increasingly geared towards terpenes as that is what the younger market are demanding – he sees that people don’t fully understand it yet, but when they experience the reality of it it’s mind-blowing.
As it stands currently, he is taking some time to refocus his energies and his new grow has nothing to do with cannabis. Todd now has a one-acre garden of legitimate organic produce which he is utilizing to allow a farm-to-market system which can also be applied to supplying his local food industry with no need for a middle man. For now, Todd is looking to go legit with vegetables and he is hoping to make a name for himself by applying his knowledge to a different type of horticulture. In the next few months he is looking to set up an expanded grow in abandoned air hangers on a disused airstrip by converting them into organic grow centers. Who knows, when and if the state goes legal he can maybe shift his focus and have an already established plot where he can cultivate some fresh new strains. In the meantime he is honing his skills in a different way and hopes that he doesn’t lose his magic touch.
Who knows where Mr. Moon will end up next, but I hope that his new venture brings him happiness and good fortune until the next viable venture in cannabis comes his way. Maybe he can come back to reinvigorate the scene in his own inimitable way? For now, I salute his belief that re-education of people in non-legal states is needed to help people learn the truth; we have to move forward together and keep fighting the good fight. While he tries to keep a low profile it’s not always easy and he knows that he has to stay legit to avoid getting himself into trouble, but people’s medicine should always come above profits and, no matter what, this is the truth that he will always believe in.
Originally published in Weed World Magazine Issue 136