Just as the last shaded snow piles melted away and green hues returned to our landscape, the season of smoke and fire devastation began. Contrary to this column’s title, and despite the handful of new pot shops in Taos, high times have been in short supply this spring. I’ve been contemplating the messages Mother Nature has been sending us with different emotions: fear, sadness, anger, helplessness and overwhelming gratitude for the brave people, many with out-of-state license plates, who ran into the forests to help.
Another natural force prevailing now in New Mexico has served to counteract my fire-seasonal affective disorder: the moment to plant cannabis outside. Whether you’re a home grower like me or a recently licensed producer, optimism and excitement are abundant in the garden. For thousands of years, cannabis has evolved in nature to express itself and interact with our senses in so many profound ways. Even as a juvenile, the plant has an amazing energy, especially when it’s growing in harmony with other living things. Much ado has been made about the ecological impacts of indoor cannabis production, where everything is engineered to simulate outdoor-like conditions. But cannabis grown in soil under the sun doesn’t require energy-intensive lights, artificial climate systems or synthetic fertilizers. In fact, cannabis is great at absorbing carbon, and thereby offsetting emissions in the atmosphere. Cannabis has the power to expand consciousness in lots of directions.
My favorite thing about building a cannabis company in New Mexico right now is meeting growers working tirelessly in concert with the environment to prepare their gardens to grow with the rhythms of the sun. While the market for seeds and starts has struggled to find its footing in regulated distribution channels, the outdoor growing scene is shaping up to provide a needed response to the plethora of commercial indoor weed in dispensaries today. Be patient, earth-conscious cannabis consumers — fresh, high-grade sun-grown is on the way.
In the meantime, outdoor cannabis growers have an opportunity to engage the community and communicate their values and approaches to cultivation. You won’t find freshly harvested cannabis at the farmer’s market this fall — state and local regulations only permit sales at a licensed retail site — so growers will need to navigate the unfriendly waters of social media and come up with alternative ways to create brand awareness in the regulated market. Prohibition may have forced anonymity, but those who built a reputation for growing excellent cannabis in secrecy know how important stewardship of the environment is to the quality of their flower. You can taste the difference, and sun-grown farmers are poised to fill the demand.
The fires remind us, that more than ever, we need to work toward a healthy balance with Mother Nature. We all breathe the same air, inhabit the same planet and are relying on one another to honor the natural order as our greatest gift. It’s high time we put consciously-grown cannabis where our mouth is.
Steve Weiner is the proprietor of Taos Cannabis Co., a craft cannabis shop opening soon in downtown Taos. Learn more at taoscannabis.com.