(This article first appeared in the Wed Apr 19 2000 National Post.)
Now that it’s spring, I’ve decided to get active in something that gets me closer to nature.
But first, I needed some reading material.
“Do you have High Times?” I asked the man behind the counter in a College Street magazine store. “You know, the magazine about growing pot?”
It was sold out. But under “Hobbies,” in between a magazine about tattooing and another about turkey hunting, was Cannabis Culture, a Vancouver-based magazine.
Let’s be honest. If you don’t smoke dope, you know someone who does. And at the very least, you’ve heard radio advertisements for stores like Homegrown Hydroponics on Q107, which sells everything from growing lamps to nutrient pumps.
I’m sorry, there just can’t be that many tomato growers in Toronto who listen to hard rock music.
I spent Friday night flipping through Cannabis Culture, which has features on pot politics in New Zealand, smoking in Amsterdam and pictures of happy people standing in front of their pot gardens. There’s even a crossword puzzle titled Pot Puzzler. Advertisers, including The Friendly Stranger, a Cannabis culture shop on Queen Street West, advertise such things as exotic pipes and home mushroom kits.
What interested me most in Cannabis Culture was the first eight pages, which listed hundreds of different seeds you can order through the mail. There’s also a number to call if you have questions.
“I don’t get it. Is this legal?” I asked the man who answered the phone in Vancouver.
“No, it’s not, but we really don’t care.”
I told him I would call back after some study.
The Blue Haven Seed “is a very productive plant. Bred for its euphoric anti-anxiety high. It produces a comfortable, enjoyable, yet powerful experience.”
I was also intrigued by the blueberry seed, which has a “very fruity aroma and tastes of blueberry. Notable euphoric high of the highest quality and very long lasting.”
Cultivation of marijuana is illegal in Canada, but records of purchases are destroyed if you buy seeds in the mail, says the magazine publisher.
The magazine also lists these handy security tips: “Do not send by Fed Ex, send a money order. Do not order right to your grow house. It’s wise to have them sent to your non-growing friend’s house or to a post office box. Do not send your full name or address. Initials are enough.”
Next, I needed supplies.
I headed to a hydroponics store on Gerrard.
The woman, smoking a cigarette behind the counter, explained that hydroponics is a very expensive hobby to start, but once I do, I could feed a family of four with my garden.
“Ah, no, I want to grow weed.”
“We don’t even talk about that here. I’m 65 years old, and I’m not going to jail,” she responded.
Instead, I asked someone who grows marijuana in his basement at home for advice.
“It takes years to get really good at it. There are unbelievable amounts of information to learn,” he says. “I love hobbies though and I love to fiddle with things. There’s also something gratifying about a plant that grows so quickly and can look so healthy. I have seen these plants grow to six feet in just over a month.”
The cost saving is also an advantage, he says. “A simple 400-watt light has the capability of producing more than a half a pound every two months,” he promised.
My friend also likes the interaction that the hobby provides.
“It’s wise to check plants every couple of days. And, it’s nice to talk to them and pass along good karma.”