Inside Medical Marijuana,
America's Most Outlaw Industry
Buy it here!
Praise for Pot, Inc.:
"Greg Campbell manages to sift through both sides' mythology about medical marijuana with style and grace, giving Pot, Inc. the essential quality any work of art about marijuana must possess—it's funny."
—Dan Baum, author Nine Lives and Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure
"At once wry, self-aware, and supremely well-informed. Read this book for a glimpse at what might soon—or even now—be happening in your neighbors' house."
—Tom Zoellner, author of A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America
"This is a fascinating account of a hidden world in American suburbia ... Greg Campbell immerses himself into this wild west subculture with both enthusiasm and fear, which makes Pot, Inc. such an entertaining and harrowing read."
—Gilbert King, author of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America
By almost any measure, I'm the last person you would suspect of growing pot in his basement. I had my time in college to become familiar with how bongs work, but it had been a long, long time since I had any desire to light up a fat doobie and get stoned. The reasons are simple: I'm a terrible stoner. Marijuana makes me sleepy and paranoid. I'll take a beer any day.
my attitude changed in the summer of 2009. In Colorado, where I live,
medical marijuana had been approved for use since 2000, but hardly
anyone, it seemed, took advantage of the permissive law. For one thing,
state law means nothing when compared to federal law, under which
marijuana for any use is still quite illegal. Few people were willing to
risk a few decades in the federal penitentiary testing to see just how
seriously the DEA might pounce on local medical marijuana providers.
That changed in 2009, profoundly. A series of court cases challenging bureaucratic regulations that had been imposed on the otherwise vague and permissive law were successful, clearing the way for largely unregulated marijuana sales to qualifying patients. The only barrier continued to be the federal government, which, in October 2009, signaled in a memo that is by now surely regretted, that federal prosecutors should lay off pot businesses that are in compliance with their state laws.
of course, set off a tsunami of activity, and depending on your
perspective, it was either Nirvana or the Apocalypse. In the 13 states (now 16)
that had voted to allow medical marijuana, it was like a pipe bomb had
been detonated, one with shrapnel named Purple Urkle, Kandy Kush and
AK-47. Dispensaries popped up almost literally overnight, with lurid
neon signs and names like Dr. Reefer and Canna Mart. Suddenly, everyone
who'd grown pot in their basements, or in a stand of woods on National
Forest Land, had the chance to go legit in practically the only industry
in the state growing like a wildfire.
That's where I came onto the scene, a dude with barely any knowledge at all about marijuana and none whatsoever about how to grow it. But so what? I was hardly the only neophyte who'd decided to make a leap into the multimillion-dollar marijuana industry.
I am, however, probably the only one who decided to write about it. My newest book, Pot, Inc., chronicles my journey into ganjapreneurealism. Along the way, I learn not only how to grow killer pot — and, incidentally, how hard and stressful it can be — but I also gained an invaluable education into the truth about marijuana's value as a medicine. I discovered vast ignorance about pot's centuries-old therapeutic value (an ignorance the government is desperate to maintain) as well as my own unexpectedly personal connection to its medicinal value.
Pot Inc. will be available April 3, 2012.
From Chapter 2, “Rocky Mountain High,” in which the Author and his Friend visit a Physician regarding certain Maladies for which they believe Cannabis to be the Salve, but also to obtain an Official Recommendation to allow the Author to cultivate Cannabis in his abode—namely, in an unused Storage Room in the basement of his suburban Home, with which to begin his Investigation into the suitability of its use as a Medicine …
Getting the doctor to agree to recommend marijuana was more than just a rubber-stamp formality. A prospective patient had to at least follow the script dictated by the state of Colorado itself and claim to suffer one of the eight qualifying illnesses, which were listed right there on the form that awaited the physician’s signature. The woman who was denied a recommendation, and who caused Nick to rethink which illness he suffered from the most, had tried to argue that smoking pot helped her cope with stress. While that may have been the case, and might have been approved had she been in California, where the law gives doctors greater leeway to recommend pot for anything they feel it might help, stress is not on the list in Colorado. The doctor had no choice but to turn her down, and she left The Med Shed in tears.
I was confident that Nick would succeed with the achy-joints idea we’d agreed upon because my own appointment a few minutes before had gone perfectly, even though no one had provided the physician with so much as a semiprivate space to interview his patients. I sat next to him on a folding chair in the middle of the room, surrounded by eavesdroppers. Our medical complaints would be aired communally. Luckily, there was no physical exam or taking of vital signs. It wasn’t that sort of appointment.
I’d rehearsed my story all morning: I suffered from a painful back as a result of an extremely uncomfortable transatlantic flight in 2001.The backrest was broken, the flight was crowded, and I slept for about six hours jammed into an awkward position, forced into a cramped little space by the heavy woman next to me who overflowed her seat. Halfway through the flight, I also managed to crack a molar on a peanut, which led me to favor one side of my jaw when I chewed. A dentist told me the screaming headaches I suffered were probably caused by temporomandibular joint disorder caused by the broken tooth. I hobbled off the plane with a swollen face, looking like I’d had to be subdued by the flight attendants. My jaw fixed itself, but my back has never been the same.
Because it was entirely true, the story seemed very reasonable as I ran through it in my head, but saying it out loud in front of this doctor, I realized how ridiculous it sounded. Yet there was no denying that for several years, sitting, standing, or lying in any one position for too long could be agonizing. I went to a general practitioner, who prescribed the Ambien to help me sleep through the night, and she referred me to a specialist, since the injury reoccurred on my way back from several weeks in Africa. She was worried I’d developed some exotic disease. The specialist ran bone scans and blood tests and took X-rays, but could find nothing wrong. He suggested exercise and yoga.
“Did any of that help?” The Med Shed doctor asked.
“Not really,” I replied. “Sometimes it helps for a little while, but sometimes it makes it worse.”
I also described a brief trip to Amsterdam during which I took a few puffs of a friend’s joint and then slept like a baby.
“Oh, so you’ve used marijuana for this,” he said.
“Only that once,” I answered. “Since I was in Amsterdam, I thought it would be a good time to try it without getting into trouble.”
That last bit was an especially clever flourish, I thought; despite how suspicious my tale sounded, I didn’t want to give the doctor any reason to suspect that he was giving some stoner a legal pass, even though three Advil and a glass of wine are all I need to sleep through the night. If I didn’t spend six or ten hours a day typing cross-legged and hunched over my laptop like an orangutan, I’m sure I could cure my back pain for good.
He checked the box for “severe pain” and signed his name at the bottom. It was the only way I ended up knowing his name because he never introduced himself. The appointment took four and a half minutes.
“Good luck,” he said as the next patient took my seat.
With that, I was legal. Or at least I thought I was. Truthfully, I wasn’t 100 percent sure. It still seemed unlikely that the ratty paper I folded up and put in my pocket would be enough to keep me out of prison if I were caught growing marijuana in my home, which was shaping up to be my plan. I wasn’t asked about any other drugs I might be taking, or asked to detail my medical history, or required to sit before a panel of psychiatrists to prove my sanity.
I knew my challenges weren’t over, though. There was one group of people I had to convince I wasn’t crazy: my family.