Herbman hustling in Colorado – one man’s journey for legalized marijuana
by Tanya Ragbeer
In 2017, the State of Colorado announced its fifth year of legalized marijuana, a precedence which surprised many Jamaicans who were certain their country would have been the first one out of the blocks. However, it appears the industry has become highly technical, far beyond the current sphere of Jamaican producers.
A former student of Campion College and resident of Mona Heights in St. Andrew parish in Jamaica, Ruffy prefers to be unnamed; he recently moved to Denver, Colorado to pursue the marijuana market.
“The whole thing has become so scientific and technical,“ Ruffy says, “it would require a lot of adjustments in Jamaica, for e.g., bush weed (poor quality marijuana); anything grown outdoors is considered ‘bush’ quality in Colorado. That is the level of production, everything is grown indoors, under ‘controlled’ environments.”
Medical marijuana: very potent
Ruffy, a supplier in the industry, categorizes Colorado weed as very potent. “Dem weed ya now, yuh tek two draw and yuh haffi si down for like five hour! It strong!” On a scale of 1-10, the Jamaican ‘boom’ weed measured at five. Ruffy ranks the Colorado brand at a “10 or a 12, or higher.”
It is medical grade marijuana, a level that can only be achieved “in an indoor and controlled environment,” Ruffy says. The Colorado grade medical marijuana is fertilized and treated with different chemicals.
“That’s why in Jamaica they say in America man go crazy because a pure ‘spray weed’ dem a smoke, but that’s not the case, the truth is they purge everything when they reach maturity and when it comes time to reap or harvest, they just feed the plants plain water and it purges everything that’s in it. It’s similar to when they go crabbing in Jamaica, they just feed the crabs corn meal for a certain period of time to get all the stuff out of it.”
In Colorado, crops are harvested every three months, yielding highly accelerated crops of very high quality.
Huge market of marijuana byproducts
“There is a huge market that goes beyond smoking it. Smoking is the least, the dispensaries blow your mind, the edible market is gone above board ; the candy, dem have all soda — marijuana sodas, ointments for arthritis and all kinds of things,” Ruffy explains.
The ointments are very costly, taking as much as three or four pounds of weed to make one can of ointment. New innovation is unfolding a process that extracts a derivative of the THC called CBD which is the medicinal component.
“People think that you go to Colorado where the weed is legal, but that’s not how it really go, you have to be very respectful of your neighbors and you have to be humble. It’s legal, but you don’t want the neighbors to know that you are doing it,” says Ruffy, who has experienced racism by native Coloradans suspicious of people going there to potentially “destroy the place and grow ganja.”
“I had to reverse my car in for the first few months when I first came here because the last thing you want to be seen with is a Miami-Dade plate, it’s a recipe for disaster, they will pull you over and harass you. Miami people are coming in by the millions and are messing everything up for the rest of us, giving us all a bad name,” he says.
The process of becoming legal to produce marijuana in Colorado is relatively easy, but laws change frequently and varies from community to community.
It takes about $35,000 to set up plus rent, lighting (electricity is high because you have to light the crops), fertilizers, transformers, the house has to be specially wired, separate air conditioning unit,” says Ruffy.
Discretion is advised
Discretion is also important. Many people new to the area don’t understand that without proper filtration, everything smells.
“All it takes is for one neighbor to say ‘I smell ganja’,” which can result in thousands of dollars in fines if you are licensed to have 15 plants and you have more. They can shut you down. “
Ruffy has had his brush with the law. He recalled an incident when he arrived in the state only two weeks, and the house he was visiting, was harvesting and reported by a neighbor.
“The SWAT team with machine guns and everything came down on us all. I didn’t know what to think!” he said. Luckily for them, the police officer was understanding, and said “just so you know, in this neighborhood you are allowed to grow 25 plants.”
”If him come in, wi done because he (Ruffy’s friend) had over 40 plants. I was shi*** myself, I was in Colorado only two weeks, and the house was stink of ganja.”
There are different categories of licensing:
- Personal medical card. This requires a medical condition such as back or eye ailment.
- Licensed to grow by the State of Colorado. “I am licensed to grow, and I am like a bush doctor, I can administer the medication to patients. Administrators can grow.”
- Dispensaries can manufacture marijuana by-products, oils, candies, sodas, etc. According to Ruffy, “That is where the money is, but it’s very high-risk.”
None of this is sold on the streets, it is all highly regulated.
Ruffy is enjoying Colorado for now. “It’s a nice place, people say hello, very cordial.”
The state is prospering, its job market is booming, and the lifestyle in Colorado is very active.
“Everybody is always stretching here, everybody fit,” reports Ruffy.
Very philosophical, he quotes Bob Marley as he reflects on his journey, “You must know what you know and what you don’t know you can learn from a child or somebody else.”
For more on legalized marijuana, click the link: Medical marijuana now law of Florida