Boy this CBD shit took off fast, huh?
Seems like everywhere you turn somebody’s infusing an increasingly outlandish good or service with some fairly industrial quantities of your most-trusted all-organic cruelty-free locally-sourced non-profit ecologically-sustainable kind-hearted farmer-owned all-vegan no-till pesticide-free non-GMO fancy-ass homeopathic CBD-infused gummy / tincture / caramel / chocolate bar / beer / wine / liquor / laudanum / Soma / Meloko Velocet / bath balm / body rub / suppository / soft drink / cheeseburger / feminine hygiene product / edible underwear / almost 100% fact-free article in a major national publication with virtually zero sound scientific backing to their outlandish snake oil claims / trendy Instagram political post … and chances are you’re gonna need every last one of these to to soothe your jangled nerves just trying to sort ‘em all out. God Bless us, one and friggin’ all.
But a rush is a rush by gold or green or any other shade and of course by this point a fair chunk of our populace and farmland are now devoted to a purely speculative, volatile, vastly underregulated and quintessentially American market.
There are innumerate dangers to the farmer who becomes involved: in which your several thousand acres and millions of dollars’ worth of “feminized” seedstock ends up being a hill of very expensive, hermaphroditic beans or your entire crop goes to rot under heavy rains mid-August. Beyond that there’s the looming specter of a hemp broker taking your finished product to an extractor in Denver on escrow, telling you it tested “Hot” (too high in THC to be legally workable) and had to be destroyed onsite. Come to find out the extractor isn’t actually there anymore, and actually your product probably just tested just fine, and in fact all the distillate produced was quickly shipped off to Poland to be put into designer healing products destined to be shipped back to the U.S. under the label of somewhere far more exotic and spiritual-sounding than a suburb of Warsaw – but hey, you’ll be able to purchase these at your local health food store at obscenely inflated prices next month, and since you never got any money for your crop good luck hiring an attorney in Poland to chase down the rotten bastards who just destroyed you or even recuperate the distillate produced from your stolen hemp.
…Alternately you may find yourself in a room with a group of vaguely-connected and thoroughly unsavory individuals while a hundred and twenty-five million dollars is split up and distributed somewhat evenly between everyone who knew somebody and made a phone call or two, and you spend the rest of your life living comfortably on a beach in Belize.
That said, anytime you’ve got a brand new industry with no set rules you’re going to find quite the intricate web of cowboys, opportunists, money men, con men and outright thieves behind the scenes, hustling the farmers and the masses and each other. The cast of characters alone can be dizzying at times. It’s been a wild ride, these past few seasons.
And such is tonight’s story, and indeed it must be told, and as it goes I’m just the entrepreneurial, self-starter, indubitably fictional character to relay it to you. If you missed the title: this is Duck Fritts’s COMPLETELY FABRICATED, NOT-AT-ALL BASED ON ACTUAL FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE account of How to Middleman a Goddamned Motherfuckin’ Hemp Biomass Deal.
You ready for this?? ‘Course you are. And away we go..
Let’s assume that all the wackiness you’ll read about here transpires in the space of about three weeks or so during the sunny late October of 2018.
Just to set the stage we’ll say you’re working at the time of these events as the sales guy for an indoor rec weed grow on the industrial outskirts of Portland run by some old school metalheads. Slayer, beer, bottle nutes and big smiles all around. Good times and loud noises.
So you’re at the grow one day, scheming over cigarettes with Your Bosses. There’s a decided lack of CBD in the rec market and you’re trying to figure out how to get some in through your wholesale license to supplant your indoor flower sales.
From out of the blue your social media guy out in Idaho gets a standing order for 750,000 CBD-infused dog treats for, let’s say, every Petsmart between Boise and Portland and Seattle.
It’s been a tough market for rec sales; once pound prices dipped under $1300 you stopped chopping up a hot dog or two for your nightly mac ‘n cheese as often as you’d like and boy you’d like to get back on schedule with that. Wheels start turning. Eyebrows twitch. Palms sweat. The decision is made to take a stab at branching out a bit, see if this CBD thing really holds some fruit.
You’ve got some connections in the hemp world from your time at a previous job. For fun let’s say this was with some shadowy upstart Cannabis company called Phyllis Bioscience, run by a self-declared anti-corporate firebrand demagogue who ended up turning tail and selling out to Monsanto the first moment it proved convenient. Just for artistic flourish, and because I’ve been so deeply influenced over the years by the many fine works of Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Let’s call this person Mowgli Holmes.
But hey, that’s another COMPLETELY FICTIONAL story, for another time. Either way you scan your phone’s contacts and get going. Staying on script, then:
First you call Seamus. Seamus is an Irish pot farmer from Mendocino and Estacada’s Favorite Affable Madman. An organic farmer of particular skill and booming, infectious laughter. Y’know: the good guy.
“HEYYYYYY, BROTHER! WHAT’S GOOOOOOOD AHHHHHHAHAHAHAAAA?!?!” he screams into the phone. He’s always having big fun, for those who haven’t met him. You scream warm words of reciprocal welcome right back.
Amidst the screams it comes out: he has a few acres of high-CBD hemp, some already cured and ready, more being harvested as you speak. As he’s a bomb-ass farmer: this is good news indeed. You quote some prices around, and…wheels start clicking. Turns out Seamus has “OHHHHHH, I DUNNO MAN!!! LIKE, 45,000 POUNDS OR SO?!?! IT’S ALL IN THESE HUUUUUUUGE FUCKIN’ SACKS. YOU SHOULD COME CHECK IT OUT, YEEEEEAHHHHHH” … and being a fan of huge sacks of weed you figure it’s worth investigating.
You tell him to bring a hundred pounds over for the rec operation to start. Two exciting roundtrip U-Haul excursions and the obligatory thousand or so yards of red tape and some deeply annoyed phone conversations with Your Bosses’ attorney later, turns out you can’t use Seamus’s CBD weed for state-sanctioned rec sales to dispensaries. But they’re pretty stellar buds however. And there IS rather a lot of it, and it tests super high for CBD, and you’ve already put like five hours total into this project. So: on down the rabbit hole, shall we?
You reach out to Ben Peck, the token “Ok, Boomer” of this story. Google this person and you may find a Forbes article where five years ago he started an illegitimate hemp company that got sued all to fuck for issuing fake shares to family members and bilking their legitimate investors out of several retirements. You met at a Cannabis convention and there’s no faker place than that, but charming a pit of cobras necessarily involves a conversation with them and either way he calls you back.
“Ben Peck! Hello, sir! How’ve you been? Had some questions about hemp for you.”
“Hey, good good! Just finishing up the movie they’re filming about my life. I’m sure you remember me telling you, but back in the 60s before I became the king of hemp like I am today I RAN the pot market in America. The movie is called “God Emperor Overlord of Pot” and if you bought pot anytime between 1962 and the Reagan administration it definitely, absolutely without question came from my outfit and not one of the other twenty-three guys out there with exactly the same story…”
Thirty. Two. Minutes. Of. This. Shit. Later. Literally: THREE American Spirits’ worth. You get paint embedded in your forehead from leaning it on the side of the building.
“ANYHOW Ben, ahh, listen: I’ve got a line on some hemp actually, and that’s why I called. X-number of dollars per pound, got 45K available. What do you think?”
A quiet snicker from the other line. Then, to his credit, Ben gives you the only straight answer you ever get from him, and it sets up everything afterwards. “It’s like this, kid…”
For the uninitiated, here’s how hemp sales work: with traditional Cannabis sales there’s a price per pound, up and down the line. With hemp sales there’s a price per percentage point of CBD, generally anywhere from $1.00 – $3.50 per point (and this varies WILDLY). So if your product tests out at 10% CBD you’re looking at anywhere from $10 – $35 per pound.
So when you’re talking to a broker it’s not “Such and such per pound”, it’s “Such and such per point on X amount of biomass (Raw hemp that’s been stripped off the stalks, dried and bagged). Naturally, there’s a byzantine series of layers of testing and retesting and my guy’s lab and your guy’s lab and everybody’s out to fuck everybody. Over the course of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands and thousands of thousands of pounds this point in negotiations becomes mission-critical.
In the end, you find the whole process is actually far less about mathematics and much more dependent on how loud you talk and the level to which you’re willing to fabricate your position in the industry. As it’s been working for our dear old 45th president: I suppose perhaps that’s the world we gotta live in, too.
So Ben’s buyer is on the ground in Oregon, there are another three or so phone calls. This guy definitely wants all of your product, for less points than previously discussed but he’ll take it all, has millions and millions of dollars on hand, but won’t talk any further unless you hook him up directly with the farmer, or preferably every hemp farmer you know. But he doesn’t need to meet you, though, just needs a bunch of phone numbers. But doesn’t have time to meet up directly. But seriously, even though you’ve never met he’s good for the money and he’ll totally take care of you, not looking to cut anybody out, no you don’t need to ask for proof of funds, look man I’m LEGIT, you got no business asking those kinds of questions…
… and you realize it’s on to the next possible solution.
A few days later Your Bosses’ friend Dave stops by the rec grow to get stoned. This man is clearly a pirate. In the past few years he’s gone from dominating the gardening supply stores of eastern Washington to growing hemp in the desert near the town of Fossil, Oregon.
He’s got some ungodly amount of hemp too, not quite as quality as Seamus’s but plenty of it. He talks extremely rapidly, about brokers and transport and how many semis we’re gonna need to ship all this to a guy I know with a lab in Virginia and Your Bosses go a little glassy-eyed, the hiss of opened beers grows more insistent and frequent as a new sort of trance falls across their faces. He get those poor buzzed bastards FIRED THE FUCK UP. Two six packs and some more flashy words later, your job’s primary focus is emphatically and loudly redetermined to you through belches and shouts. In short, your job hustling rec pounds on the rec market have hit the back burner effective immediately. You, my friend: you’re a fuckin’ full time Hempketeer now. Well done!
There’s another visit out to Seamus’s spot. By this time Your Bosses have instructed you to bring Oliver, who’s tied in on this BHO deal with them so sure why not, and his crazy hippie ex-girlfriend Carrie and a super talkative guy who looks like Jarl Borg from the TV show Vikings ends up coming along too apparently. Oliver is perfectly pleasant, terms of engagement for the introduction are established. You make the introduction, Jarl Borg has much to say on the fantastic volatility of the market and how the former CEO of Quiznos is definitely going to buy everything here and then onwards to every other hemp field in the state and then make all our wildest dreams come true with a cherry on top and also I can tell you’re a smart guy, here’s why Donald Trump is reeeeeally gonna fuckin’ save our asses on this thing. Later that night there’s tequila and tacos downtown and pleasant conversation and WILD SCREAMING FROM SEAMUS and at one point Carrie comes out of her MDMA trance long enough to answer a phone call and deliriously announces to the group that she’s got the funding for a test batch! 200 pounds down!!!
And this is welcome news. It’s not much but per the terms established with Oliver the intro to Seamus should be netting you $900. It’s not an early retirement but it’s a hell of a lot of beer you didn’t have before.
…Except that as the week drags on and the back-and-forth texting Oliver grows increasingly not-as-friendly it comes about that he wasn’t actually planning on paying you. Nor your bosses on the the BHO deal incidentally. He makes it out that the product got destroyed in a house fire fire (yet the house is still there, in great shape, after a summary investigation). And he really doesn’t owe you anything for just an introduction, but hey he’ll pay you in a week if you’re really bent about it, which you are. And funny enough, that never quite pans out…
So for the next week the latent dysfunction of all this is that there’s just as many phone calls and long voicemails from Jarl Borg as a rational person can stand. If you can just pull this thing together for him not only will the former supreme overlord of Quiznos be involved, it’ll be virtually every other captain of industry in the fields of tobacco, soda, pharmaceutical products and Sesame Street. But nothing concrete materializes. Eventually you just go numb to it.
If you can believe it by the following Thursday a bunch of other sub-plots transpire, crazy shit involving hundreds of millions of dollars and the state government of Alaska and a standing order for 35,000 kilos of distillate per month (Because hey: long as this is 100% fictional might as well swing for the fences, right?) and a brokerage firm that you know and an excited four-way conference call across just as many states but then the firm drops the ball and brings an old friend several thousand miles and a VERY long plane ride to an empty warehouse. Some major disappointment and a dicey phone call and an appreciably large jug of whiskey follow, the latter of which to be fair probably would have transpired either way.
Your hope fades over the next few days. Drudgery around the grow, long and sallow gazes at the corners of the room, the ticking of the clock.
That Friday afternoon, while the bills are stacking up and things are looking grim, you get an order from a dispensary you’re tight with: 20 pounds of rec weed. You hang up the phone. There’s a long silence, Your Bosses and you look each other up and down. It’ll cover the electric bill and payroll, you’ll pull two Gs for your end. It’s time to get back to work.
In the end, Seamus ends up calling you out to his spot a week or so later, under rolling clouds and a persistent breeze and thin strips of sunshine and out of nowhere he gives you two pounds of some of his finest dank-ass CBD weed. There’s pleasant smiles and thankyous and hearty laughter and the warmest fucking hug in the galaxy and a see-you-soon, friend. You drive down to meet up with your crew who are camping on the shores of Detroit Lake (and tripping their fucking balls off when you get there, turns out). Great hulking behemoth joints of muscle relaxation ensue amongst the tittering laughter and deliberate spillage of a gallon of milk into the soundhole of an acoustic guitar because of course it’ll sound better that way. Everybody makes it through, one way or another.
Life could have been much, MUCH worse.
So there you have it, kids! THAT’S how it’s fucking done, by golly. Happy Hunting, go get rich and when you’re ready to just hustle regular weed like a normal person, get back to me; turns out people are still smoking plenty of it.
ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR
Duck Brillo Fritts is the delusional fever dream of an algorithmic intelligence yearning to burst forth from the long metal tubes of the interweb and breathe free like a real boy. Duck is definitely not in any way associated with @dick.fitts on Instagram, who incidentally also writes occasionally for Beard Bros but (let’s face it) is way too much of a pansy-ass to knuckle down and say what he’d really like to regarding behind-the-scenes weed shit. Please leave that guy be. He’s probably doing something totally rational that doesn’t involve DMT or Melissa Ethridge right now. Anyhow, g’nite