By: Jesse Duncan
I was born and raised in Humboldt County, so the Green Life is at the core of my persona. I began smoking cannabis at the age of 15 and started farming professionally some 20 years later. For me, though, the Green Life is not about getting high. It’s about loving and appreciating the plant and honoring the way it centers me and connects me to the higher purpose of saving and improving lives.
After my mom was diagnosed with cancer for a second time and was forced out of the workforce due to health complications, I retired from a decade-long career as a financial advisor to cannabis-caregiver for her and several other female patients suffering from the same. Since she was facing mounting bills and the inability to care for herself physically and financially, I saw cannabis as a way not only to improve her health but also to fill the financial void she was experiencing.
A child of the ’60s and ‘70s, Mom hadn’t used cannabis in several decades, opting to set it aside after my birth. Stricken with chemo-related nausea and becoming addicted to narcotic painkillers, she began using the cannabis I was growing indoors in edible and oil form. Through the use of homemade Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and cannabis-infused foods, Mom weaned herself off pain killers entirely and found nausea relief, pain relief and improved sleep through her cannabis regimen.
Mom died just six months after my retirement from finance due to a heart attack, stroke and meningitis. I decided then that farming would be my next professional pursuit as I saw firsthand how she and the other women I grew for responded so positively to the medicine provided. A few years later, in 2016, I transitioned to commercial sungrown farming, where I have worked ever since. I currently serve as propagation manager for Mazari Farms in Southern Humboldt County, the epicenter of both the War on Drugs and large-scale, high-end cannabis cultivation. As a family farm under the umbrella of the Humboldt Growers Network, we produce premium cannabis destined for retail outlets throughout the state.
For me, the Green Life is about honoring the plant and about being continually thankful that I get to participate in this rapidly growing industry. Never before have I been so passionate about work. While demanding and rigorous, farming cannabis is immensely rewarding. Through loving the plant and the farming process intimately, I find a level of professional satisfaction that I hadn’t experienced in the past. Working in the elements, embraced by the majestic beauty of the county’s mountainous regions, is simply spectacular. Being surrounded by deer, wild turkey, jackrabbits, foxes and other wildlife is more than scenic, it’s spiritual. Growing the world’s most beautiful plant in an effort to save and improve lives gives me a meaning and a purpose that far surpass helping people invest their money. The mountain roads, the blazing moon, the shining stars and the lush hues of different cannabis varietals all speak to me and provide me a freedom, a motivation and a level of peace and connectedness that nothing else has.
The Green Life is about getting out of my own head and about connecting to something larger than myself. It’s about honoring my surroundings and dancing daily with a plant that means so much to me and others. I feel blessed to have found a home in this industry and sincerely hope to spend the remainder of my professional years here. While family farms won’t compete on a large scale, we possess a love and a knowledge base that corporate operators will never know. As we support each other and continue to produce the world’s best cannabis products, we will maintain our foothold in the industry and continue to honor the sacrifices of those who came before us.