Ritual Cannabis is set to be licensed this week, just over 26 months after we stepped foot on our five acres in Klickitat County, Washington.
We found this place after a wandering 3-hour drive east and then south of Seattle. We knew that we wanted to be close to wine country, that the plants longed to be in the ground and under the sun.
There was a working well, the remnants of a concrete pad where a trailer had once stood. The land was shaped like a diamond, zigging and zagging all the way down its southern face, opening up to the beauty of Goldendale below.
We knew that the girls would flourish in the arid desert country, and that we wanted nothing more than to bring gently trimmed, sungrown cannabis flower and irresistible infused baked goods to our customers, to friends new and old.
We knew that we wanted to create a brand that could embody all of what cannabis had shown us. Truth. Healing. Openness. Connection. Spontaneity. Curiosity. Potential. Authenticity. Kindness.
She is Zooey, our farmer. She served in Iraq as a combat photographer before coming out as transsexual in 2014. I don’t doubt for a moment that her drive to cultivate a plant that literally saved her life is matched only by her gratitude for the opportunity to give back. She loves to teach people about cannabis, really lights up when she feels that she has a good mastery over a topic. (This also happens at the mention of a Star Trek television series, or when we pass a Datsun Z tucked into the back of a neighbor’s yard.)
I am Michael, our baker. I have been working as a creative arts therapist since 2005, and am an educator and artist. I was 7 or 8 the first time I was allowed to ride my bike out of our Central Florida subdivision. I didn’t go fishing with friends. I rode as fast as I could to the grocery store, and raced home with the ingredients for a butter cake with chocolate frosting. I pureed raspberries and ran them through a sieve, and placed the cake on a spidery web of vibrant red. I felt so alive as I ate dessert with my family that night. I’ve always loved making people happy, making people smile. There is no greater joy that I know than when a friend gets to nibble on one of my salted chocolate chunk cookies right out of the oven.
We’ve learned more than we could have ever imagined in this process, and we’re just getting started. We’ve had to become so many things: architects, electricians, plumbers, engineers, expert and efficient communicators. We’ve given our lives to manifest this dream, financed by the kindness, generosity, and belief of our family, friends, and community.
We are more excited than words can express, and equally grateful for the magic that has brought us to this week.
Still, we have a lot of questions about this whole thing.
What does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
What does it mean for us to start a cannabis business in America right now?
Who gets to say who is allowed to grow cannabis post-prohibition, the legal way, after so many have spent so much of their lives in prison for doing the exact same thing?
What does it mean for a society to make this shift, to change the rules overnight? (OK, maybe it’s taken a little longer than that).
What do we make of what came before, or what comes after?
Why are so many different people across cultures so fascinated by this plant’s ability to heal people? Why is that we place such weight on the impact of cannabis on the body, but less so on the heart, on the spirit, on the mind?
* * *
I have been wondering all of these things with the constant news of yet another police shooting, another impossible number of people mowed down by violence. As we mourned the 558th death by police officer this year in the US, yet another tragic, unconscionable killing of a person of color, I found myself paralyzed by anger. Sadness. Fear. Confusion.
I’ve written posts on social media, hashtagged this and that, and grieved with friends and family at the way that things just seem to be stirring up, getting hotter. I know that violence, racism, power, privilege, and oppression have long shaped this country into what it is, and that right now only feels different because technology and the internet has worked to shine a brighter light on injustice and inequality.
Still, I can’t remember how long it’s been since Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Freddie Gray.
I can’t recall much now about the details of San Bernardino. Sandy Hook. Columbine. Newport. Denver. Orlando. Ferguson. Charleston. Lately, it all threatens to be felt exactly the same, like all of this hurt and pain is just one thing. One entity. A singular new normal.
But my paralysis turned to action when I remembered that this blog lay in wait, mostly empty and unsure of what it might become.
As Ritual Cannabis begins this new chapter, and we prepare to put plants into the ground this week, I am reminded exactly how radical it is to legalize a psychedelic. I am reminded of the radical nature of not checking out but leaning in right now, the power of the present moment. I am reminded of the radical idea that we might all have the potential to reach out and tell someone that we feel their pain, and that we might even have the space to hold it for them. I am reminded of the power of community. I am reminded that Ritual Cannabis does not have to be like every single business that came before it.
As we prepare to enter into the market, we are committed to doing so in a way that reflects who we are and what we stand for.
We are queer. We are curious. We are concerned.
But we are hopeful.
We are Ritual Cannabis. Stay tuned to the website for news, original essays, poetry, art, and inspiration as we go beyond with you.