It is 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 22. I had flown into San Diego from Detroit the night before after finally getting my medical marijuana certification in Michigan, on 4/20. I’m here with two friends. We’re the three amigos: the Todd Man, aka Todd Durban, aka T_dOG (cannabis artist-at-large); Master G, my old friend and chronic sage, and Big Ben, a traveling nurse from Philly via Thailand. We stow our bags in the trunk of our jet black Prius and prepare to drive to San Bernardino for the 2017 High Times SoCal Cannabis Cup. But hold on … my buddies need to pre-dab. Okay by me, but what was I thinking? 10 a.m. We’re still almost ready to depart. Right? Then, one more rip. Okay, two. Finally, at 11 a.m., comfortably dabbed, we pile into the car and go north on I-5.
So, Here’s how I ended up at the 2017 High Times SoCal Cannabis Cup.
A passion that eventually led me to California started last summer. A close friend has a medical marijuana recommendation and grows his own plants. Mike has Behcet’s Syndrome, a rare, painful, chronic disease affecting the vascular system and other body parts, whenever it feels like it. Mike tried every chemical drug the doctors prescribed but only cannabis helped him get through the day.
Mike discovered he had a green thumb, so he decided to enter his buds in the High Times Midwest Cannabis Cup held in Clio, Michigan, last year. His strain? Girl Scout Cookies. Knowing my skills as an artist and brand developer, he asked if I would design a label for his entry. I said, “Absolutely.” He didn’t get a medal, but was awarded honorable mention, and people said they liked my design. I was inspired. And then I had an epiphany! I would draw EVERY STRAIN KNOWN TO MANKIND … or at least die trying. Yee-hah!
After successfully funding my cannabis-related Crowdfunder project and receiving some good social media coverage, I was ready to do some serious Research & Development to learn everything I could about the booming cannabusiness industry. That’s why I’m in California, now driving on the freeway, still awake and appropriately baked, heading to San Berdoo, an impoverished city in a metropolitan area known as the Inland Empire, 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
The trip from San Diego to the Cup takes two hours. After a little delay processing my out-of-state medical marijuana certification, we’re finally inside the National Orange Show Events Center, experiencing the mix of peace, love and dankness. The people are smiling, joyful, the vibe is kumbaya, and the edibles, terpenes, buds, shatter, sift and herbal massages are to die for. I do know that it wasn’t because of all the THC I’d consumed … but the feelings were real. So were the conversations I had, the handshakes, the hugs, the fist bumps … it was truly a world I want to live in.
I was drawn to a vendor’s booth by the sight of a stoner’s delight: a marshmallow-chocolate concoction created by Baron’s Confections out of Los Angeles. Originally caregivers for oncology patients, these dedicated and caring folk turned their culinary skills into a delicious edible business for all to enjoy … medically and recreationally. The mouthwatering sample was beyond delicious.
I spent most of my time at the 2017 High Times SoCal Cannabis Cup carefully inspecting the dozens of beautiful buds on display. And this being the first year of California legalization, we were allowed to get our minds blown by sampling way too many strains to remember. What a thrill it was to be among like-minded folks partaking in God’s wonder plant without being arrested and ending the evening listening to the headliner at the event, 50-cent!
Seriously, friends, cannabis culture is not only here to stay, it is, in my humble opinion, a more natural function of the human condition. Cannabis and all its benefits bring people and communities together in a more peaceful and harmonious way. Having visited the dark side, one can clearly experience the contrast. Strong, the flower is!
Author Bio: Todd Pearl, aka T_dOG, is an award-winning and published Artist/Brand Developer/Illustrator. He’s also a weed activist and up n’ coming blog writer. Todd lives in the medically legal state of Michigan with his lovely wife and two dachshunds.
He’s currently on a vision quest to draw every know cannabis strain known to mankind. Blazin’ forward.
Twitter: The_Todd_Man @toddpearl8