This is Maine.

The Dandy Sarah Farm

by Sarah G.

This is Maine. I am used to this scene. Here, there are the usual things you see at a cannabis gathering. Tables with vendors, glassy eyes, flat brims, glass art, and the haze. The air is a heavy heady blue from the expelled vapors of concentrated cannabis extracts and the sound of butane torches hissing punctuates the music with an asymmetric rhythm. Click, Click, Click hiss. No one can dab along with the refrain. But, this time, in this space I made a change. I brought old healers and drums. We are coming back.

Medical marijuana is an industry, with conventions, events, and a lot of cash flow. When you attend cannabis events there are light set ups, meters for everything you could measure, soil amendments, and a lot of men. A lot. This is a modern condition. If you sit for a second with any cannabis enthusiast you know that medical marijuana is old. But the real medicine, the old medicine, is not being administered. The old healers are not the hustling, bustling, click click click hiss guys I have been sitting with these last few years. The old healers looked like me. They were magic. They felt the medicine intensely, like they felt the world, and that is how ailments were treated, and wars were started. Shamanic medicine is performed for the sick for healing and the warriors for fighting. There’s no click click click hiss with the old healers. There’s the old drumming refrains, that have been passed down. The old drumming language doom doom tek brings the beat back. [Doom and tek are the two main sounds of drumming: Doom is the deep resonant sound of hitting the center of the drum and the tek is the staccato tap of the outside edge. It’s drumming language so it is kind of code.]

I’ve been in the industry a short time. I am coming into my third season of a perpetual grow operation, so that is three outdoor harvests. I have a large commercial greenhouse for growing in the warm seasons, and two indoor rooms – one for vegetative state plants and the other for flowering plants. Maine law allows caregivers five patients and thirty adult plants. My husband just became a caregiver this year so our farm usually has sixty adult plants. My husband is the face of our farm. I didn’t ever want to attend events or social groups. I started out growing wanting to sit with my patients and no one else. My first cannabis event was Harry’s Green Love Festival two summers ago, up in Starks, Maine. I am grateful for my husband’s wisdom in showing me cannabis culture first through the lens of Harry Brown’s farm. It was an open and excepting space. Free love was about, but so was consent, and respect. I saw there the Sativa Sisters with their cannabis salves, The Barefoot Truth Dancers women freestyle belly dancers, and the Blue Haired Vagina Lady is the master of ceremonies on the hill. All those women were doing their work, not just standing alongside their male partners. I had peers, but there was still surprise when my husband told people I was a caregiver and he was the patient. Even on the hill, with the hillcats – Harry’s loyal festival attendees, away from the pharmaceuticals and those white-frocked pushers, there was still the click click click hiss of the modern marijuana hustle. And it was still off beat.

I have been to other events, where I was not allowed into sections where seeds were being sold, because I am a grower not a patient. “My family has been working on this soil for five generations!” The man was weaving back and forth slurring. My daughter and I were pitched at last year’s Emerald Cup, at ten o’clock in the morning, by the most drunken bro I had ever encountered. I used to work security at a sports bar. He was standing directly in our path as we were walking through the vending spaces for non-patients. We both did what women do when confronted with what may be a threat, in a space where we are not sure if we are safe. I payed him attention, arched my neck in feigned interest. My daughter nodded and smiled. I asked follow up questions while stepping forward, putting my body between him and my daughter, and used my space to herd him back to his table.

Intoxication is not medicine, it’s not safe, it’s for inflating bravery and fighting a war. I do not want to make war with my medicine. I think the only reason the vendor tried to sell to us was his inebriation, because my experience at most vendors tables is that they are not trying to sell me their light set ups, soil amendments, growing supplies. They offer me trinkets, necklaces, t-shirts and devices to make cleaning up after a grower easier. There is no reason for the way the industry treats women. It’s hippy love that their are slinging, so we should not feel threatened or disempowered. Fuck, they always miss the beat.

I work hard to promote marijuana as medicine. At the small town meetings I go to there is always a man talking. Not well, but with enough authority to hold attention, the room, space. “Cannabis put my Crohn’s disease into recession. It is not heroine. Children with epilepsy are decreasing their seizures from 200 a day to none. Those kids have a life – they are going to school.” People have concerns, the concerned citizens have questions, and not all the answers may come from the guy in the room who has been growing the longest. Here in Maine growers are your neighbor that you did not know had lights on in his cellar, attic, or shed. And patients are old folks that you wave to from your dooryard. You knock on their door when you can’t find your cat. But you still would not know they are treating their cancer, a back injury, chronic mental illness. The concerned citizens are asking about safety and preserving our way of life. The oldest grower in town, the man talking, is singing the cannabis allelujah chorus, but he can’t find the refrain. He’s not got any rhythm. He’s busy with the click click click hiss and misses the balance of the doom tek, and the room can feel it. They are asking to feel safe.

When I talk of marijuana as medicine, I do not forget the old healing. The place where the barefoot truth comes from. If you go visit the Ayahuasca healers still practicing old medicine in the jungle of Peru, they will tell you that medicine is for healing, but it is also for war. Modern people, like Lindsay Lohan, go to the jungle to cure their ennui. It works, but people die there. Kyle Joseph Nolan did. Any medicine can heal, we remember, but it can harm as well. And that we like to forget. Medicine in the wrong body destroys the body. Medicine in the wrong community destroys the community. The citizens’ concerns are valid. They are not calmed by the effectiveness proven by case studies. They are talking about our community, and how it may change if medical marijuana becomes recreational. They can hear the beat of an old drum. People are coming from away, California, Colorado, Oregon, and they want to practice old medicine in their new way. Yes no one has died taking cannabis, but their communities changed. The small town Mainers can hear the dissonance, every missed beat, in the allelujah chorus.

There was a vacuum of knowledge back when the Hearst Company saw hemp as a threat to their paper empire. The rhetoric of cannabis prohibition was compounded by the propaganda from modern medicine that was pushing the traditional healer out of the family and replacing it with a doctor that you saw in the hospital. Hearst and the AMA were not the catalysts in the war against traditional healing they were the death knell. Before we became civilized the craziest crone was the woman you went to see for healing. Old women, who heard voices, felt the world and their patients’ place in it, were not nuts. They were sensitive and travelled the same roads her patients suffered along but felt the ailments and the harm more deeply. They were magic, shamanistic healers. We started burning those women when we left animist pagan worship for the church. Usually, those women were politically powerful, owned property, and their persecutions were aimed at taking that power and property away. That is when the the knowledge of healing got sucked into obscurity. When women asked for their power back, for the vote they were stuffed into asylums and force fed. A few decades ago restless women were just bored housewives hopped up on mommy’s helpers. Now we tell people like me that we have anxiety, depression, P.T.S.D. Cannabis can help us, and others like us. We have access to it again. We are coming back to cannabis. Women like me. I see us here dancing to the old beat doom doom tek.

[The women are from folklore but are documented in things like “the Crucible.” Joan of Arch is a good example of Christian mystical warrior type stuff. There is some documentation of magical healing like with the Hehe of East Africa, where the male chiefs are not as powerful as their majickal healing mothers, but to discuss those people and that history would take way more than 1000 words.]

Cannabis farming feminism is budding in Maine.
Cannabis farming feminism is budding in Maine.

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