Recently I was eating at a steakhouse in Downtown Los Angeles…
Jazz music filled the restaurant as handsome waiters supported themselves filling wine glasses while waiting to land their big role in a major motion picture or television series.
As I waited for my food to arrive, I noticed a guy from across the restaurant scoping me out. With a crew cut, square jaw, and a goatee, he looked like an undercover cop.
Every time I looked in his direction I could see his eyeballs bounce off me, roll down to his plate and then across the table to his date, a beautiful blonde in a red evening dress with the kind of lips women would kill for.
I kept wondering why the hell is this guy looking at me…
If he were a cop, he’d be more low key about it. But wait…I don’t even do illegal shit anymore, so why would an undercover cop be watching me eat?
Now, back in the day, I had to keep a constant eye out for not only local narcotics officers, but also the DEA, RCMP, and U.S. Marshals, because at any given time I had thousands of plants going AND I was wanted on growing charges.
So I’ve trained myself to keep an eye on my surroundings…to always know what’s going on around me, and make note of anything or anybody that looks off.
32 years of growing—most of which were when growing weed was illegal, with 11 of those years spent on the lam—forces a man to develop certain habits.
No matter how bad my ADHD gets—even when it’s on par with a coked-out Tasmanian devil during mating season—I still constantly survey my surroundings…even though I usually do it totally unconsciously.
I just kinda do it on autopilot without even knowing it…
…UNTIL my internal radar goes off, like it did at the steakhouse…
I knew something was up…
After finishing my salmon salad—I eat a lot of salads and fish these days…yes, I know, I eat like a woman—I got up to use the restroom. As I washed my hands, the guy who’d been staring at me opened the door and kinda froze when he saw me.
“How’s it goin’?” I said as I dried my hands.
“Hey, are you Big Mike?”
“Awe man, trip out. You own Advanced Nutrients, don’t you?”
“That’s me,” I said.
“Hey I’m Dex,” he said, extending his hand for a handshake.
I shook his hand and said, “Good to meet you, Dex.”
“I’ve used your nutrients before. Love ‘em. Great stuff. Helped a ton with my yields, but…”
“Oh, so you’re a grower?”
“Yeah, well, I was. I really wish I was still growing. Ran into some problems and had to give it up.”
“What happened?” I asked, and then, as other men filed into the restroom I suggested we step out into the bar area, which we did.
“Man,” he said, “like three days before I was going to harvest, someone fuckin’ broke in and cleaned me out…stole my plants, my cuttings, my lights, my ballasts, all kinds of shit. They even stole all my bottles of Advanced Nutrients. I think it was a buddy of mine who did it, but never could find out for sure.”
“So why’d you quit?”
“I guess that just kind of took the wind out of my sails ya know…I mean, I put so much work into setting up that room. Ran a few crops in there, and when I started using your nutrients and got better at growing, I pulled off some killer yields. It was going pretty good ya know, it really was,” he scratched his head, “but then having all that shit stolen from me, I just got bummed out on the whole thing. Felt like I lost everything.”
“Duuuuude, fuck that,” I said. “You gotta drop the defeatist attitude. You lost one crop. Big deal. I killed my first crop.”
“Hell yeah I did. And in the eighties and nineties, a third of my outdoor crops got snatched by cops and thieves. I had $400K grabbed by the cops one time; had 66 pounds ripped off from a stash house another time; had $37,000 stolen in Missouri, had a guard snatch $125,000 another time up in Canada; had a 500-light grow burn down to the ground in the middle of the night.”
“That’s crazy,” he said.
“And, man, I’ve had so many grows busted by cops we’d be here all night if I tried to list them all…I could go on and on man…I’ve made so many mistakes and taken so many hits it’s ridiculous…”
As our dates joined us in the bar I continued to tell Dex about the failures, busts, manhunts, shakedowns, ripoffs, and the hurdles I’ve had to overcome.
I told him about the people and situations that have tried to stand in my way and block me from getting to where I am today.
I told him about how Advanced Nutrients was blackballed by hypocritical distributors who sent out an opinion letter written by lawyers that warned storeowners and growers: if you buy from Advanced Nutrients, you could be arrested by the federal government….
… About how Hydrofarm, Sunlight Supply, Botanicare, and Larry Brooks from General Hydroponics continuously ran smear campaigns against Advanced Nutrients because I didn’t try to hide the fact that the nutrients we make are for growing weed.
I told him all about how they tried to put me out of business…
“There will always be people who will try to keep you down,” I said. “Don’t let ’em. Whether or not they’re able to is all up to you.”
“So what kept you going when the chips were stacked against you?” he asked.
“Knowing that if I’m gonna do anything great, shit’s gonna happen, man…and keeping my eye on the ball, learning from my mistakes, and having a big reason WHY I do what I do—which is to help growers like yourself grow the heaviest yields of the most badass buds possible… AND to help growers attain financial freedom and take marijuana to its true genetic potential. That shit gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me pumped. If your reason WHY is big enough, you can do any damn thing you want to.”
It’s stories from growers like this in this 15 second video that keep me going:
“Look,” I said, “if you’ve grown, or just consumed marijuana, you’ve benefited from something I’ve done. But that wouldn’t be the story if I’d have given up whenever something bad happened. I’d have made zero impact on the growing world; zero impact on our community. However, I put one foot in front of the other and kept going. You have to push forward man, and let what happened to you make you stronger.”
Me and Dex talked for a bit longer and I could see I’d lit a spark under his ass.
I told him that as long as he took action and went out and picked himself up the new equipment he needed to replace what had been stolen from him, that Advanced Nutrients would hook him up for free with all the nutrients he needed to hit his next yield.
He extended his hand and said, “You got yourself a deal. It’s on!”
I can’t wait to hear how things turn out for Dex.
P.S. Oh yeah, here’s an update video I made for you about the General Hydroponics buyout by Scotts Fertilizer:
P.P.S. I’m currently working on a book about all the crazy grow stories from my life…well, as many as I can remember anyhow. While you’re waiting for it to hit the shelves, you can find a bunch of the stories in the blog post Eljay wrote about me here.