I am finally coming out of the cannabis closet. Many people in my life have no idea who I really am, but with this article they are about to find out. I am Russ Hudson, director of CannaBizConsultant.com and founder and editor of MarijuanaGames.org. I have been using marijuana for a variety of purposes since I was 12 years old, though I never would have guessed that a quarter century later my profession would be exclusively based in the cannabis industry. For the many people in my life just learning this information and finding it in poor taste, I invite you to read this article, do some research of your own, or kindly make your exit. This is who I am, and this is what I do.
I have been hiding the fact that I am a marijuana user for more than a quarter century.
That’s an agonizingly long time to create and develop a charade sufficient enough to avoid detection and thus ensure that my life was not ruined. But even with this effort, I once lost a job at NASA for failing a drug test and later spent time in jail for cultivation and trafficking charges. Where I grew up in the United States, getting caught with even a small amount of marijuana meant that you would enter the criminal justice system – a system that many people never make it out of.
So I have always been careful, but I have also never stopped using marijuana. I’ve grown marijuana, shipped it, transported it, made hash, edibles and concentrates, dabbled with breeding and genetics, brokered deals and been involved in some way in virtually all things related to cannabis throughout my life. All of this occurred in the illicit markets because there was no other venue.
Fortunately, today things are different. Attitudes about marijuana are changing fast.
In 2007 I started taking on clients in the cannabis industry. At the time it wasn’t exactly something special – I also had clients who were based in the alcohol industry, pornography, drug rehabilitation, mortgage lending, online dating, etc. In those days I was a hungry ghostwriter so I was not selective with my clients.
Of course, regardless of the specific client, while I produced the agreed upon work I used marijuana. After all, it was virtually the only way possible that I could bring myself to produce hundreds of inane articles on timeless subjects like “caring for Manchester items” and “blender reviews” and content for dental websites.
In 2008 I was working on a book about affiliate marketing. As part of the research I built a marijuana ecommerce site that was monetized via affiliate sales and banner advertising. The site generated traffic with content that I wrote about various aspects of marijuana, but at the time my internet marketing skills were not sufficient enough to compete for the few viable industry keywords that existed 7 years ago in the United States. Eventually I let it perish as part of a portfolio of around 60 unsuccessful sites I owned.
In those early days I failed more often than I succeeded, but my successes outlived my failures.
Over the next few years I worked for a number of cannabis related clients, providing mainly content, web design and marketing services. This was a challenge because some of my biggest clients were in the drug rehabilitation field. Consequently I had to keep my business associations with pro-marijuana companies and websites extremely discreet.
By 2012 I was tired of producing meaningless, fluffy content that no one ever read; content that was primarily designed for search engine bots. I had been working on the architecture of a new (unpublished at the time) marijuana site for months and decided to expand upon this. I started developing marijuana video games and generating a list of viable search terms and related content. This preparatory work went on for over a year, though I had no distinct idea of how I would eventually use it.
In the fall of 2013 two things happened that pushed me to finally change the official focus of my work. Interestingly, these two catalysts happened at precisely the same time; I moved to Barcelona, Spain (home to a thriving legal cannabis culture) and my largest client at the time (a drug rehab center) brought all of the services I had been providing for years in-house and cut me loose.
I knew it was time to make a significant shift. With the drug rehab center client gone, I no longer needed to worry so much about being discreet concerning my involvement in the cannabis movement. And because I lived in Barcelona, there was an entire industry and associated cannabis culture waiting for me to explore and write about.
Since then I have let go of nearly all of my old clients and now almost exclusively work with businesses and individuals who are in the cannabis industries. My daily life is focused on what is happening in the world of marijuana, but despite the fact that I have become a public figure in the field, I have largely been hiding this part of my life. Most of my friends, family and associates have no idea about any of this. When they ask what I do for a living, I usually respond with something vague – “I’m a web developer.” After all, it’s true.
The primary reason I am writing this article is because by hiding my profession and personal involvement with marijuana from my friends, family, colleagues and virtually every new person I meet, I am doing the cannabis movement a disservice. I am part of the problem. But as of today, that is going to change.
I am also tired of the proliferation of the stereotypical stoner, who in my opinion does not exist. I am a typical stoner, and here’s what I’ve been doing while getting high:
PUBLISHED AT 18
I was published for the first time in 1996 in FreezerBurn Magazine Issue #5, at the tender age of 18. I spent months querying editors and sending submissions, of which a poem I had written was finally selected for publication. With that, I earned my first paycheck for a writing gig. It was only $50, but that’s how I got my start as a writer.
Did I mention I was high for this process? Yeah. I smoked joints while researching publications and learning how to submit queries. I wrote and edited my work while high. I conducted follow-up and graciously accepted rejections when I was stoned. I persevered and was published, with no help from anyone but my friend Mary Jane, who provided inspiration.
THRU-HIKED THE A.T.
In 1998 I hiked huge portions of the Appalachian Trail. I went by myself, starting in Maine and eventually working my way down into Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and beyond. I got up with the sun each morning and hiked as hard and fast as I could all day, generally covering 15-18 miles each day. I had no one to help me and so I coordinated all of my own supply drops, planned my daily treks based on topography and weather, and survived weeks and weeks of torrential rain in the Northeast.
Most of the time, hiking the Appalachian Trail was not fun. My pack weighed in excess of 60 pounds, I was always either hot and uncomfortable or cold and uncomfortable, and the mosquitoes were maddening. However, I still got up day after day and trudged onward with no friend to motivate me, no guide to push me to keep going. When the end of the day neared and I felt like stopping early, I always found strength within me to go just a little bit farther.
During those months of trekking I smoked marijuana regularly. In the morning after breakfast I’d hike away from the campsite and smoke a joint and quickly get in tune with my surroundings. When I crested the many brutal mountains that line the AT, I’d often smoke a joint and find immense appreciation in the land and the journey both behind and ahead of me. I brought a notebook with me and in the evenings I’d crawl into my sleeping bag and smoke weed from a small pipe while I worked on a book that I’ve long since forgotten.
Hiking the AT is physically grueling, mentally demanding, requires rigorous planning and if not done correctly is potentially dangerous. It’s one of the most challenging things that a person can do, and I did it while high. Typical lazy and forgetful stoner, right?
HIRED AND FIRED BY NASA
In early 1999 I beat out 16,000 applicants to land a position at NASA in Galveston, Texas, working as a human guinea pig as part of a special project for the agency’s planned mission to Mars. I underwent rigorous testing and interviews for this project and eventually was selected for the position. However, I was fired shortly after when cannabinoids were found in a urine sample I had provided.
I always thought this was a huge waste of resources. I met the qualifications in every way and was legitimately hired for the position. The requirements were tight and I can only assume that finding good candidates was difficult. But because I used marijuana, the agency considered me totally unworthy and discharged me despite the fact that only weeks earlier they had deemed me to be 1 in 16,000.
NASA never asked me for an explanation of why there were cannabinoids in my system, but the answer is because I was a regular marijuana user. I was a stoner. That’s right folks; a stoner was vetted and accepted for a position at NASA.
I have always been a runner. While chasing that coveted runner’s high, I usually like to be…uh…high. In fact, as early as high school I was smoking pot while participating in cross country. A buddy and I would race ahead of our teammates during training and duck into the trees to smoke weed. We’d smoke bowls packed with Canadian marijuana that had flooded the markets in the far Northeast United States in the mid-nineties; back in the days when I had never heard of sativa or indica.
Today I am an endurance runner. Every other day I run 10 miles (16.2 kilometers). I run by myself with no one else to motivate me. Instead, my motivation is my health and the challenge of always improving. Currently my goal is to complete 10 miles in under 60 minutes. I am about 3 minutes away from that goal and continue to push harder every run.
I ride a bicycle several miles to get to the starting point of my runs. Along the way I stop at a park in Barcelona and smoke a joint; usually of premium indica. I do this for three primary reasons:
- I have found that 70%+ of the effort required to run long distances is mental rather than physical. By entering a semi-meditative state while running, I am able to relax enough to disconnect parts of my mental functioning from my physical functioning. This means that I can run without “feeling it” for long periods of time. Because I know the terrain very well, I often close my eyes for extended periods while running, concentrating only on staying in a straight line. Sometimes this practice works so well, I “forget” that I am running. Smoking some indica prior to running helps me achieve this meditative state faster, recover it quickly when lost, and maintain it for longer periods than when I do not smoke.
- A heavy indica relaxes my muscles and joints and allows me to run with less overall impact on my body. I find that the typical warm-up period is greatly reduced after smoking, whereas without the use of cannabis there is sometimes an extended period of stiffness, aches and in some cases cramping.
- After a joint of good weed, the sun is brighter, the people I pass more beautiful, the ground seems more forgiving and my thoughts are softer. When I am high during a run, I observe and appreciate more of the world around me. When I am not high, the constant chatter in my mind can obscure this beauty.
I run approximately 150 miles every month regardless of weather conditions. I always find the motivation to run and work hard to ensure that I can do so as part of a healthy lifestyle. Does this sound like the behavior of a stereotypical stoner to you? Not only do I smoke pot regularly, I specifically smoke it immediately prior to a run.
But that makes me a lazy stoner, right?
THE CYCLE OF LIFE
Until recently I was a fanatic cyclist. On average I cycled between 6,000 and 10,000 miles per year. My average speed was 20 miles per hour and in general my minimum ride was 60 miles. I once cycled 103 miles at 21 mph, and on two separate occasions I cycled 200 miles non-stop, through the night, crossing international borders.
As usual, I did all of this by myself with no one to guide or motivate me. When the wind was harsh and temperatures dropped below zero, I still cycled. When the sun cooked the pavement at 104 degrees with humidity at nearly 100%, I still cycled. I trained hard. A lot.
You know what else I did while cycling? I smoked pot. On long distance rides I’d stop every 2-3 hours and eat some food, guzzle water and take a few hits from a small pipe that I tucked into my back shirt pocket. On shorter rides I’d smoke a little weed before heading out and then consume monstrous lunches upon my return to make up for the spent calories and to satisfy “the munchies.”
I used marijuana as part of my cycling regimen for the same reasons I use it now for long distance running; to achieve a meditative state, to relax joints and muscles, and to better appreciate my surroundings.
Unfortunately, about a year ago I gave up cycling. I spend most of my time now between the US and Spain, where cycling infrastructure is either terrible or does not exist and motorists battle aggressively with bikes for shrinking road space. The risk of an accident or injury while cycling seemed to me to be too significant to assume any longer so I sold my bike and gave up the sport. I want to ride, but I also want to make it home to my daughter, so I made a sacrifice.
Not exactly the behavior of an irresponsible pothead, is it?
I started writing when I was quite young, but I didn’t become a musician until I was already an “adult.” At age 21 I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My roommate’s brother came over to our apartment one night with his guitar and began playing Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. This made me yearn to be able to elicit emotion with music, so the next day I took the little bit of money I had and went to a pawn shop in Rio Rancho. I bought a guitar and amp setup for $150 and brought it home and started practicing.
I kept working on it over the years and eventually played in a few bands, sometimes for money. In 2008 and again in 2011 I wrote and sold a few songs to clients, but mainly I wrote music for personal enjoyment. Anyone who knows me well can testify that my music is an integral part of my well-being and happiness.
As of now I have written over 400 original songs, some of which I am in the process of recording and making videos to release later this year. But learning to play guitar was not easy and required dedication and perseverance in order to gain any level of mastery. It takes years of hard work and consistent practice.
Of course by now I’m sure it’s obvious that I used marijuana during all of this. Marijuana has helped me find the inspiration and creativity to continue writing songs and music long after I thought I would exhaust subject matter and unique composition. Using marijuana while composing or performing allows me to plumb the depths of emotion necessary to write meaningful music. It helps me get in touch with myself and connect with the music in a way that is much more difficult without the aid of cannabis.
Is this what we expect from a stereotypical stoner – to spend years attempting to master a complex instrument, to practice until permanent callouses develop, to compose lyrics and music to hundreds of songs?
FROM BONGS TO BOOKS
Writing a book is tough work. Even if you are an expert in the subject matter, producing a book from start to finish is a monumental task that many find to be insurmountable. Research alone for a book can sometimes take years, then the book must be written (which can also take years), edited, revised, re-edited, proofed, published and marketed – all of which can also take years. During this time, perseverance is critical.
All of this doesn’t really sound like activities that are within the realm of a stoner, but I’ve actually written a number of books and I was definitely high while doing so. As a ghostwriter I have produced books about meditation, education funding, retirement planning, affiliate and internet marketing, an autobiography (it’s still an autobiography if you pay a ghostwriter to write the book for you and then slap your name on the title), a book about a condition related to addiction, several novels, and most recently a book about a behavior modification program for children. This last book, which is in the final stages of publishing and will be in print in February 2015, is the first that will feature my name as co-author.
So how is it possible that a stoner could produce all of this work? After all, stoners are lazy, unambitious, have poor short term memories and do not finish what they start. Right?
KICK SOME grASS
I wanted to study martial arts and become a black belt since I was a young boy, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that this dream became a reality for me. At age 30 I was awarded a Black Belt in Taekwondo. I competed often during the years 2007-2008 and was the Triple Crown State Champion during this season. I took an advanced training course called CIT and became an instructor, teaching classes from a small Taekwondo academy in Maine.
I was widely known as the one of the most knowledgeable and skillful black belts in the region. I earned this reputation because I studied and practiced constantly. I took martial arts seriously and trained 6 and sometimes 7 days per week and taught classes 5 nights per week. I was a dedicated martial artist.
After classes were over and all of the students and parents were gone, the other instructor and I would sometimes smoke weed in the back training room that looked out over the harbor. I also used marijuana while training and especially while memorizing and executing all of the colored belt and 1st and 2nd degree black belt forms and weapons routines. I smoked prior to tournaments to calm my nerves and lower my anxiety.
Earning a black belt is a lifetime achievement, and I did it while I was high. But you can bet your ass that no one who was involved in the sport at the time would have ever guessed that I was a stoner.
I am a husband and father. I love my wife and consciously cherish our incredible relationship. We rarely bicker, have never so much as cussed at each other and spend most of our days together, happy. Our daughter is a bright little ball of light that I am crazy about; well-adjusted, independent and highly intelligent at 4 years old. The three of us are healthy, emotionally stable, warm and affectionate. We are focused on contributing meaningfully to the world around us and seek to constantly improve individually and collectively.
And, can you believe it? – I smoke pot! Somehow I have this amazing family even though I am a stoner, and I MUST be a stoner because I smoke marijuana every day. So why isn’t this stereotype making sense? Why is it that I am not ignoring my family in favor of Call of Duty, or hanging out with the boys, or getting in trouble or being lazy and selfish?
BUDS AND BUSINESS
I have been self-employed as a writer and web developer since 2007. Prior to this I started and operated a number of small businesses: a medical and dental billing service, a burrito company, a mortgage refund processing service, a raw dog food resale and shipping company, a snow plow company and certainly one or two others I am forgetting. Hell, I even tried selling for Amway.
Of course, it’s never been easy being self-employed. There have been plenty of times where things got rather tight financially. But whenever this was the case, I’d figure out another way to get by. Once we painted the exterior of a house we lived in in exchange for 6 months with no rent payments. Another time we remodeled a home in exchange for 6 months of free rent and utilities. In other cases I have scrapped metal, recovered PMDC motors and resold them, harvested fir boughs and made and sold holiday wreaths, purchased and resold second hand items at a profit, and anything else I had to do to make ends meet when other business avenues were slow.
As a self-employed person I am 100% dependent upon my own initiative and consistency. I must generate leads, close deals, coordinate with contractors, maintain an IT infrastructure, produce and deliver the actual work in question and ensure the client is satisfied. Laziness, procrastination, forgetfulness, passivity; these are all traits that cannot exist within the complex and detail-oriented business environs I operate in. Interestingly, these are the same traits attributed to society’s stereotypical stoner.
During the week it took me to produce this winded article, I have been stoned for every word. As I have been writing this piece I have smoked Amnesia, Girl Scout Cookies, Super Lemon Haze, Critical Bilbo, SFVOG Kush, Critical CBD and Cristallica marijuana strains. Do my writing, editing and publishing skills resemble those of an idiotic stoner? Do my thoughts seem disconnected and rambling? How can an actively high stoner possibly engage in such lucid communication?
None of this jives with what we’ve been taught by popular media.
This article is not meant to be a public bragging session –I don’t feel that I am better than anyone at anything. I have been responsible for more than my fair share of mistakes, bad decisions, failures and wasted time. But those failures were honest human failures that had nothing to do with the fact that I use marijuana.
That’s because you can use marijuana and still be motivated. You can use marijuana and still be ambitious and successful. You can use marijuana and still train hard, run fast, live healthy, love wholly, give freely and exist in gainful unity with forward-thinking people and communities. As a cannabis user, you can do anything anyone else can do, and often you can do it better.
This is true even if you’re a stoner like me, and you use marijuana every day.
That’s right folks; I have finally come out of the cannabis closet to admit that I am a stoner. I am not an anomaly or an exception to the rule, I am the rule. Virtually everyone I know and work with in the cannabis industry is the same; professional, ambitious, totally capable human beings contributing meaningfully to society, who also happen to personally enhance their lives through the responsible use of marijuana.
So I ask you – does the stereotypical stoner really exist as portrayed in the movies and other media? Because I have never met a person like that. Most people that I know who are stoners are hard-working men and women; driven, dedicated, intelligent, humane, emotional, insightful, caring, reciprocating and interested in higher consciousness. Unfortunately, most of these people are forced to hide the fact that they use cannabis, and many of them are at risk of serious consequences should they be discovered.
But I won’t hide anymore.
The pot pendulum has swung, and there’s no going back for me now. I am Russ Hudson: I use marijuana on a daily basis, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.