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Thoughts On Coca, Cannabis, Opium & Tobacco – Gifts Of The Great Spirit


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HIV/AIDS Tobacco Harm Reduction With American Spirit

If clinicians treating HIV/AIDS patients who can’t stop smoking knew what hidden fungicides those patients were inhaling they could probably do a much better job of treating them.

Here’s The Data

Community Tobacco Control Partners Test Results 12/18

The Purpose Of The Project

Given the data on fungicide and pesticide contaminants that you see here, and understanding that it is critical that fungicide treatments, which are very commonly used in treatment for HIV/AIDS, must not be co-administered with most other HIV/AIDS medications:

Which tobacco brand above do you think would be most harmful to an HIV/AIDS patient currently undergoing treatment and still smoking?

Which brand above would be least harmful to a patient undergoing the same treatment and still smoking?

How much clinic time and human and financial resources could be conserved, and how many patients’ lives saved, if patients in HIV/AIDS therapy were not being compromised daily by an inhaled fungicide cocktail from smoking that they can’t control? 

I propose a simple, inexpensive way to use economic incentive, hard evidence, common sense and an appeal to simple pleasures to change the harmful behavior of smoking during HIV/AIDS therapy.

Merely labeling the behavior harmful and harping at people to quit obviously doesn’t do the job.

The Problem

A very high proportion of people in HIV/AIDS treatment continue to smoke, and they’re driven to cheap tobacco brands by poverty and sometimes choice.

  1. We also know that the pesticides in many tobacco brands like those shown above attack the immune system, so heavy smoking with exposure to these endocrine-disrupting pesticides in addition to the fungicides all go together to make a young LGBTQ person who smokes much more vulnerable to acquiring HIV/AIDS if and when they are exposed.
  2. We know that cheap brands are heavily contaminated with fungicides that are known to interact harmfully with most common HIV/AIDS medications.
  3. Existing cessation programs and strategies do not work well, when they work at all.
  4. Patients who continue to smoke disrupt and negate their therapy in ways that their health care providers can clearly see but cannot identify the cause. They know smoking is involved but don’t know how. 

What doctor or nurse who is carefully keeping fungicide applications separate from other medications for a patient could know that the patient was dosing themselves with a cocktail of fungicides 40-60 times a day or more through smoking?

Street Math

If a person is paying $6.00 for a pack of cigarettes they are getting 20 cigarettes containing 0.8 grams of “tobacco-like material” at a cost of $0.375/gram, or $10.65/ounce. If they’re paying $8 a pack that’s $0.50/gram and so on

No cigarette smoker ever does that math, but those numbers will get any patient’s attention as part of the onboarding process because everyone on the streets knows how to do drug math. Once a person sees what they’re paying and what they’re getting, and are presented with an attractive option that has compelling economics behind it too – I believe that motivation to participate would not be a problem.

The American Spirit Harm Reduction strategy

You can see the core of the proposed harm reduction strategy in the data above. Tobacco brands differ wildly in their harm potential. It’s that simple. So we find a way to empower the most marginalized among us who must smoke to be able to choose the least harmful way to pursue their need.

I don’t show organic tobacco in the data for an good reason – we tested Organic American Spirit for use as the substrate for the brand tests and it had no detectable pesticide residues.

But if an HIV/AIDS patient is smoking any tobacco brand contaminated with any of the fungicides you see in the data above, getting heavier as the brand gets cheaper, then you can see exactly how harm reduction will work right up front.

The only question is – how can you transition people from the most harmfully contaminated to the least harmfully contaminated kind of tobacco?

I propose that we use the power of economics and the market.

Here’s how it could work – there are a lot of variations.

Program Delivery

First: The clinic locates a lowest-cost source and buys the least-contaminated Roll-Your-Own (RYO) tobacco available, which is probably probably American Spirit Blue.

ASB is not organic but we tested this brand in cigarette form (see the data above) so we know what those pesticide contaminants are from hard data.

A good retail or online cost for a 5 Oz. can of American Spirit RYO will be around $30. 5 ounces of RYO will yield about 135 RYO cigarettes per can, so each cigarette will cost @ $0.22 each to make.

Many clinic clients will already know what American Spirit tobacco is but it’s likely that none can afford it or even find it for sale where they hang out.

It doesn’t have to be American Spirit – there is a much cheaper, down-home approach using whole organic tobacco leaf and a little machine that I’ll describe in another post.

It’s important to stay away from every other kind of RYO tobacco unless you find one clearly labeled “organic” because all the RYO tobacco I’m familiar with is very cheap stuff and is very likely as contaminated as cheap cigarettes themselves. 

Next steps: The onboarding procedure can be kept simple.

Participation would be voluntary, just like a clean needles or condoms programs, and the same response to criticism is merited. Of course it would be better if people didn’t use IV drugs but access to clean needles is in everyone’s interests. Same with tobacco products.

There should be an orientation session during which fact-based explanations are offered of why the program is being offered and how it works.

The clinic can set registered clients up with a supervised place and provide the supplies for patients to roll their own using the provided RYO tobacco.

Cigarettes can either be hand-rolled by the patients and staff, maybe in a communal atmosphere like a morning coffee and rolling session. or a very simple $300 hand-turned rolling machine can be used that allows a person to crank out 20 cigarettes in minutes.

The Important step: Paying For The Program

Let’s assume that the program has to pay for itself, or at least partially do so.

Finances can be handled several ways, keeping in mind that the patients are currently paying at least $6 or so a pack, or $0.375 for 0.8 grams. 

Plan A:The clinic could recover the full cost at $0.25 per one gram RYO cigarette which is half of what the clients are paying now on the street.

Plan B: Or the clinic can make the proposition irresistible to patients and charge $0.10/cigarette; or you can just charge nothing.

Plan C: Or, we may simply want to ask for a suggested donation of around half of what they’re currently spending on street tobacco rather than charging anything specific – it depends on the clinic’s finances and preferences.

The point is that even if a clinic served 100 patients at 20 cigarettes each a day at no charge that would mean 2000 cigarettes a day at a total cost of $500 a day or $5 a person to transition them away from the massive harm being done to them without anyone’s knowledge.

So a program serving 100 people would entail $15,000 if you were buying the RYO tobacco at retail. But let’s assume that the participants carry the program 100% by paying or donating $0.25 for each of the 20 hand-rolls in their daily allotment.

That would mean that other than administrative costs there would be few other expenses in running the program, and the participants would experience both health and economic benefits and maybe other positive things.

The Economic Impact On Patients

However they pay, or if they don’t pay, people should only be able to roll a limited amount at a time for personal consumption. That could rationally be set at 20 hand-rolled cigarettes a day – one pack.

Even if a patient is paying full price, or donating it, that $0.25 a cigarette is half what they are currently spending, so that’s money in their pocket. If they were paying $6 a pack and are now paying the equivalent of $3, they are way ahead. If they are paying nothing, they are $6 ahead.

However, one economic positive that could come out of the program even though it might not be formally recognized, is that if a person is allowed to roll themselves 20 cigarettes per day’s supply the reality is that they will probably only need ten of those, and will be able to make a little money by selling them on the street, which will add to the money they are saving by not buying commercial cigarettes.

If they are saving $3 a day buying or donating for 20 cigarettes at the clinic, and then also sell 10 of those to other people ( a knock-on tobacco harm reduction effect) at let’s say $0.50 each, then that’s another $5 in their pocket. So this harm reduction program could pay for itself and put at least $8 more a day in patients pockets while salvaging their expensive HIV/AIDS therapy.

I’m not talking about flooding the streets with hand-rolled American Spirit cigarettes, although that might make a wonderful conceptual art piece. I also don’t see too many legal objections to this (although anti-smokers will be venomous) since the tax has already been paid on the tobacco and the patients who sell some of their hand-rolled cigarettes are just adding value with a hand-rolling service for the buyer. If I buy apples and pay the tax and then slice them for people and sell those slices, maybe I need a vendors license technically but in this case … really?

The number of cigarettes involved in a program like this in the context of a city wouldn’t put a dent in the bodega sector’s revenues, but it could make a lot of financial difference for those in the program.

Summary

When you think about the money wasted on smoking prevention and cessation programs that don’t work, here is an idea that is simple and seems to have the potential to solve a very big problem because if it works in one place it can work virtually anywhere. If there are legal or regulatory issues raised, there are workarounds like having a physician prescribe the natural tobacco. 

While it’s tempting to focus on positive health outcomes as the greatest potential benefit of this proposal, it’s important to realize that this program would also mean that every patient would immediately have more disposable income. Not big bucks but I personally know that sometimes three bucks is what you need. How people choose to their extra disposable income it is wide open, but getting rid of the cost of a pack of cigarettes a day could make a big difference in many patients’ lives.

Finally, my pretty extensive experience with natural tobacco is that most smokers, especially of cheap brands, will instantly say that it is a lot better smoke. Most smokers of conventional tobacco brands find American Spirit, which is 100% actual Tobacco, stronger and more like “what real tobacco should be”.

Fair Disclosure: This proposed harm reduction approach uses American Spirit Blue RYO tobacco for a specific set of reasons shown in the data and analysis above. I have no relationship of any kind with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, the American Spirit brand, or any other tobacco company or product. I started the company and invented the brand but that was long ago and far away.

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Hidden Cause Of HIV/AIDS Treatment Failure?

It’s critical that we re-define the threat to HIV/AIDS patients who can’t quit smoking because the threat from smoking during HIV/AIDS therapy is far greater than anything previously imagined. Quite simply, every tobacco brand we’ve just tested is loaded with hidden fungicides including some of the most potent and dangerous kinds.

New hard data from lab tests we just ran on popular cigarette brands identify fungicides as a hidden factor in the well-documented failure of HIV/AIDS treatment in cases where heavy smoking is involved.  A cocktail of unregulated fungicides contaminates every popular tobacco product we tested, and these fungicides interact very negatively with almost every medication used in HIV/AIDS therapies.

Fungus infections are a severe, sometimes nearly intractable HIV/AIDS problem, and Azole-class fungicides are among the most-used in treatment. However, HIV/AIDS healers are very aware that Azole fungicides have serious, sometime severe interactions with many other medications that need to be used. Therefore, cross-exposure is carefully managed.

Hidden Azole-class fungicides in the tobacco brands that patients continue to smoke through treatment are feeding multiple Azole fungicides into their system with every puff. Interactions with their other meds must run wild, and surely nobody can explain them because nobody knows about which fungicides are in the tobacco brand the patient is smoking, or even that this problem exists. 

As you can see in the table below, every brand we tested had high concentrations of fungicides, including azole-class fungicides. Note that even the relatively clean American Spirit Blue shows significant contamination, while the Marlboro Reds and Swisher Sweets are very heavily contaminated with multiple fungicides. We tested other brands – these three are quite representative of how the range of contamination correlates with price, meaning that economically marginalized people receive the highest doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals in their smoke. Many of the most difficult HIV/AIDS patients are also economically marginalized and depend on the cheapest tobacco brands, which are the most heavily contaminated with hidden fungicides.

And of course, a young impoverished lifetime of inhaling these immune and endocrine system disrupting chemicals in cheap flavored tobacco products may well have lowered the threshold of vulnerability in HIV/AIDS victims in the first place.

Community Tobacco Control Partners Test Results 12/18

People are very likely dying unnecessarily today because of this specific preventable issue, contamination of tobacco products with toxic fungicides that conflict with or cancel their HIV/AIDS therapy.  The impact of this hidden toxic cocktail on the chemicals being used in therapy, as well as on the patient’s own organs and endocrine system, are probably what generates the devastation that is seen in these xenobiotic chemical victims. That said, we can’t overlook the separate and equally devastating impacts of  DDT, Carbendazim, and other endocrine-disruptors in tobacco products, but this post will focus just on the fungicides.

THE PROBLEM: SUMMARY

We know that even while in therapy, and causing failure of the therapy

1. Many HIV/AIDS victims remain heavy smokers. 

2. Azole fungicides interact negatively with almost every HIV/AIDS drug

3. So do many other classes of anti-fungals.

THE CONCLUSION

Hidden Azole fungicides in tobacco products are a major risk factor in the high rates of failure of HIV/AIDS therapy among smokers.

SIMPLE, INEXPENSIVE, & PROBABLY VERY EFFECTIVE

HIV/AIDS clinics can implement the solution to this tragedy without needing to address or solve the problem of contaminated tobacco.

I believe that a community-based organic tobacco replacement program would turn out to be the most effective smoking-related disease mitigation approach ever implemented. But that’s for later. Just like a needle exchange. Turn in your contaminated tobacco products; receive organic smokes in return. The present cost would be a fraction of one percent of the future avoided costs, not to mention the avoided suffering and death.

The program can be a simple as buying organic cigarettes and distributing them, or as much fun as buying whole organic tobacco leaf and having rolling parties.

Hand-rolling parties using organic tobacco leaf would offer a great participatory opportunity for raising awareness and encouraging patients to help themselves and educate others.

These organic smokes can be handed out just like medications, needles, condoms, vitamins and other necessities; hand out the these uncontaminated hand-rolled cigarettes along with medication and do some awareness-raising of why this is so important. Then check the vitals on the patients who switch from contaminated to organic tobacco and check the results.

This has never been done before, and I can promise that the results will be dramatic when someone finally has the courage to try.

I realize that the perfect solution would be to find a way to empower victims to stop smoking completely, and this may actually be a path to that outcome for some. But for those who must for whatever reason keep smoking, at least they won’t be inhaling a cocktail of therapy-negating Azole fungicides and immune-system disruptors like Carbendazim and DDT.

Unfortunately this simple little program would threaten everybody from the tobacco companies to the FDA and the Prohibitionist/Eugenics interests among the Elite. This program, which can easily be implemented on the most local level, would actually eliminate most smoking-related disease and death and that would never do. Don’t for one minute think that the Elite are unaware that most of the people killed by contaminated tobacco products are by their definition not worth keeping alive. They are very aware, and think they are immensely clever for getting away with it for as long as they have. 

For members of the LGBTQ communities who are currently smoking but do not have HIV/AIDS, this awareness could be a future life-saver. Seeing what their brothers and sisters are going through and knowing why will be a huge incentive for HIV/AIDS patients who have turned their therapy around by eliminating the fungicide-contaminated tobacco products can share that experience more effectively than any program ever designed.

I am the inventor of “American Spirit” organic  tobacco and the writer of “Cultivators Handbook of Natural Tobacco” so I know the organic tobacco network pretty well. I’ll be happy to help any clinic access dependable low-cost supplies of any kind of organic tobacco from cigarettes to RYO to whole organic leaf.

I can also help set up a tobacco product pesticide/fungicide testing program using qualified US labs so that clinic and patients can know exactly what is in the specific tobacco brand that is threatening therapy.

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Oregon Smokes 4 Billion Grams Of Tobacco A Year

Oregonians smoke 11.1 Million grams or 390,000 ounces of tobacco products a day. That puts Tobacco sales in Oregon over 4 Billion grams, or almost 9 million pounds of tobacco products a year. Californians smoke 62.3 Million grams or 2.3 Million ounces of Tobacco products a day. The amount of tobacco product smoked in California in a year almost requires an exponential expression – 22,739,500,000 grams a year. 

How many of those 4 Billion grams a year are being grown by Oregon Cannabis growers? How about the 22 Billion a year in Cali?

How many of those 11.1 million grams a day in Oregon are heirloom tobacco varieties like Mopan Mayan, Mount Pima or Aztec Rustica?

How many have such individualistic aroma and flavor profiles that they match beautifully with unique Oregon-grown Cannabis terpene profiles?

How many are being sold alongside Oregon’s premium Cannabis in Oregon dispensaries?

How many of those grams are “medicinal Tobacco” – and what could a new designation like that mean?

I think it’s quite possible that some of those 11.1 million grams a day can be authentic heirloom tobacco, grown both indoors and sun-grown as a complementary crop by skilled Oregon Cannabis growers. I think it can sell at $3.50/gram, $100/ounce retail implying gross farm revenues of $30/ounce or $480/pound at wholesale, with strong retail-price web selling options.  

A market of 9 million pounds a year at $480 a pound represents a theoretical total for on-farm revenues of $4.5 Billion per year. A fraction of that amount would still represent a major new agricultural opportunity for Oregon growers. 

As a point of comparison, Santa Fe Natural Tobacco buys 1.7 million pounds of organic tobacco a year from 100+ growers worldwide for manufacturing just the American Spirit organic cigarette brand. None of the SFNT’s other natural brands are organic tobacco. As you can see, even American Spirit organic cigarettes total tobacco demand for worldwide production amounts to only a tiny fraction of just Oregon’s own tobacco consumption. There may be a lot of room in local, state and regional markets for new heirloom tobacco/cannabis brands that can begin very small at the farm producer level.

I think $25,000 a quarter acre (500-600 cured pounds) is reasonable if the untapped market is anything like what I believe it is. An existing cannabis grower can find out pretty quickly. Just put in a couple each of maybe six different heirloom tobacco strains off to the side, raise them and cure them out using traditional methods, then do a nice blend with your cannabis flowers (or trim) and try it out locally with maybe a few hundred people. Find out what they think. Get an idea of what they will pay. After doing that, any cannabis grower would know for sure what the local market is for heirloom tobacco at virtually no cost to find out.

Grams of Tobacco Consumed Per-Day In Selected Cannabis Growing States
State Retail Grams Tobacco Daily – All Brands
Oregon 11,100,000
California 62,300,000
Washington 29,388,240
Colorado 13,937,280
Nevada 9.336,971
Michigan 31,567,585
Tennessee 21,007,048
Massachusetts 12,781,552
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Maybe This Is A Timely Opportunity

Cannabis and Tobacco are such a natural pair in the marketplace and in peoples’ lives that it makes sense, if you are in the Cannabis business, to look at the tobacco business. You can bet this predatory industry is looking at Oregon’s Cannabis.

In order to approach this idea productively you have to set aside everything you believe you know about Tobacco itself, the Tobacco industry, growing Tobacco, Tobacco products, the economics of Tobacco, and the medical and scientific evidence against Tobacco (which is actually against Tobacco products – not at all the same thing, which is at the core of the industry’s con game.)

So far there doesn’t seem to have been a market anywhere in the world where $500/pound indoor-grown heirloom, perhaps even organic tobacco can be justified by a potential market. Nobody in the world is currently paying $100/Ounce retail for tobacco. That probably sounds crazy.

However, I think it’s possible that Oregon may have inadvertently reached the point where people can discover the value of $100/ounce tobacco, which is what I think real heirloom tobacco is worth, but for the moment let’s just agree that tobacco is a very valuable plant that Cannabis growers may not have considered and that the public has not yet discovered.

I believe that thousands of people are ready to discover the pleasures of heirloom tobacco smoked and vaped with their artisan cannabis, and all the circumstances that could release this unrealized demand look to me like they line up for Oregon Cannabis growers in 2019.

With many of the heirloom varieties maturing at under 70 days and some in as little as 45 days after planting out, there is plenty of time for indoor and outdoor growers to get ready, put in a small tobacco patch, and see what happens.

Background & Discussion

There are +/- 800,000 tobacco product users in Oregon, and they smoke, dip, vape and chew everything from cigarettes to blunts, from snus to chew. But for the sake of keeping it simple let’s just say that on average each tobacco product user in Oregon smokes 17 cigarettes a day, the US average, or the equivalent in some other tobacco product. At 0.8 grams of tobacco materials per cigarette (which is a whole ‘nuther story), that means that Oregon tobacco users are consuming 11,100,000 grams of what they believe is tobacco a day, over 4 Billion grams a year.

With many Oregon Cannabis growers getting slammed at only $500/pound for their flowers and their indoor production costs running around $1.25/gram, many growers are looking around for ideas, and this may be one worth considering. Even when Cannabis prices can be managed back up to more reasonable levels by opening export markets, which will provide temporary relief for some growers, the time may be right for growers to consider the potential market for heirloom Tobacco production at what I think is a sustainable grower price of $500/pound.

Heirloom Tobacco Under Lights – The Research

I really don’t know that it will be feasible to put tobacco and cannabis plants side-by-side under lights as a commercial proposition. It’s never been tried to my knowledge, and there are some questions to be answered. But, with some of the compact tobacco strains whose height and growth cycle to maturity can be coordinated with the Cannabis strains under cultivation – quite likely. It is certainly one of the first things I would try. Some kind of inter-planting might work well, especially with some of the heirloom tobacco varieties that have compact growth profiles. I have several varieties in mind that grow quickly to maturity, have relatively compact profiles, and have leaves that cure to mild but potent smoke.

But whether in its own space under lights, or in a curtained off part of an indoor Cannabis grow space – I believe that heirloom tobacco production under lights might be a very profitable junior partner in an indoor Cannabis business. There has been plenty of research and experience with conventional tobacco that can be ported over to indoor tobacco/cannabis production.

Experienced Cannabis growers will be able to immediately put the research data on every aspect of tobacco to use in growing heirloom varieties even though almost all the research is done on either the conventional tobacco types used by the industry or experimental strains that were never meant to be smoked. There are thousands of studies involving every conceivable parameter of tobacco grown in greenhouses or under lights for research.

Be careful! Sorting through all the irrelevant tobacco research that’s out there could take a lifetime, since tobacco is the white rat of plant genetics and is used extensively in plant biology research worldwide. Sorting through and applying the relevant knowledge base to small-scale heirloom tobacco production will not be a stretch, and I can be helpful. It’s important to note that since Cannabis growers love to experiment, they will find that Tobacco is at least as responsive and interesting a plant as Cannabis. Once a market for premium Oregon heirloom tobacco is established, a market for new strains of heirloom tobacco crosses won’t be far behind.

There are a number of special characteristics of tobacco that I think will make it profitable enough per square foot of indoor production space that it can work from that perspective. For example, the way tobacco is harvested, one maturing leaf at a time working from the bottom up, is in synch with the rhythms of Cannabis flower harvesting with multiple, continuous passes. Cannabis flowers and tobacco leaves receive parallel treatments in handling and drying – I see no reason why they couldn’t share the same space. Tobacco and Cannabis can, obviously, be packaged together in a lot of creative ways.

There are many other reasons why I believe that parallel indoor tobacco and cannabis production is feasible here in Oregon and maybe elsewhere.

Potential Heirloom Tobacco Markets

Under rational market conditions Cannabis production is much more profitable than anything else including Tobacco (wait for legal Coca Leaf production), but while Tobacco isn’t Cannabis in dollar value per SF, it’s up there.

More important the markets for Cannabis and Tobacco are almost exactly the same – with some important differences, but still with huge overlap. In other words, people who enjoy beautiful Cannabis flowers will love aromatic tobacco leaf, and people who are hooked on 20-40-60 commercial cigarettes a day might find that 2-3 hand-rolled (or pre-rolled) real tobacco smokes would do them just fine. Oregon Health Authority says that roughly 250,000 of the 800,000 Oregonian adults who smoke cigarettes also smoke Cannabis – I think the crossover is far greater and will exceed expectations. The same is true in every Cannabis-legal state.

The fact that high quality heirloom tobacco indoors under lights on a boutique commercial scale hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean the knowledge isn’t there – it is. Frankly there is very little that is mysterious about growing tobacco, and the finer points of each strain will reveal themselves to curious growers just as the secrets of Cannabis plants unfold for the attentive grower. There are very good reasons why Native Americans understood that Tobacco is a sacred plant, and with their respectful attitudes toward sacred traditions Oregon growers are well-suited to re-discover those qualities while building an incredible new business sector at the same time.

A good selection of heirloom tobacco seeds is, for some strange reason, readily available online, and Native American tribes have privileged access to a US government-funded tobacco germplasm collection where every strain of tobacco ever grown or discovered wild in the world is kept alive and producing a pure line of seed. In many, even most cases people will be able to access tobacco seed from the specific sacred tobacco that, for example, may have been collected 150 years ago on their ancestral land by a government botanist cataloging Native American medicinal plants.

The possibilities are really quite endless.

Sun-Grown Cannabis Flower

I’m an old-time outdoor Cannabis grower and I don’t mean to ignore the potential for a single summer crop of sun-grown heirloom tobacco as an adjunct to Cannabis for Oregon’s outdoor growers. The same environmental and cultural factors that make Oregon Cannabis such a distinctive high-value crop can work to the advantage of Oregon Cannabis growers who might start with a few heirloom tobacco plants outdoors as an experiment and see where it goes. It might take a bit of legal work or maybe not, but I don’t see any reason why an Oregon Cannabis grower who wants to grow some Aztec Rustica and then pre-roll some of their Durban Poison flower in their Aztec Rustica leaf shouldn’t go right ahead and do it.

And of course it won’t be long before somebody discovers the delights of THC & Terpene-infused heirloom tobacco leaf.

The fact that tobacco is very attractive to bugs will undoubtedly be an issue outdoors in Oregon; however, native tobacco strains are adapted to their natural environments and there are a number of NW native tobacco strains available as well as some heirloom strains from other environments that might also do well in Oregon’s short-cycle summers. There has also been a lot of work done on organic tobacco production done at NCSU that can be adapted for both indoor and outdoor purposes in Oregon.

At the core of Oregon growers’ advantage, however, is that Oregon growers are used to spending a lot of quality time with their plants, and that’s exactly what it takes to produce premium tobacco. I have studied 300 years of worldwide tobacco literature and can say without doubt that experienced hand labor is proven beyond doubt to be the path to premium tobacco. It’s really no different than wine grapes or Cannabis flowers. Technology and chemistry can go a long way in certain directions, but there will always be a market for hand-produced, highest quality, organic or responsibly grown Cannabis, Wine, Food and Tobacco.

A New Market For Trim?

Cannabis growers may find that they have a higher-value use for their trim when they blend their highest quality Cannabis trim leaf with heirloom tobacco leaf to make a very special RYO blend that can carry their own growers brand name because of its unique characteristics. With over 800 varieties of heirloom tobacco to choose from, growers will have no trouble differentiating themselves through skillful tobacco/cannabis blending of both leaf and flower.

CBD Hemp

Many different people are attracted to the exploding market for responsibly-grown CBD hemp, and growing Cannabis as hemp using very similar horticultural techniques can be very profitable as long as the market holds up. People say that CBD growers right now are getting $2500-$60,000 acre for their production depending on where they are, what strain they’re growing, how well its growing, and the selling terms and prices in their market. I’m sure that a lot of people are already warning about a flood of new production hitting the market and what that will do to prices, so Hemp growers who have learned from history are probably already looking around for complementary production possibilities.

I’ll propose that as long as a grower is getting into a couple of acres of CBD hemp as a start-up why not put in a quarter acre of an attractive heirloom tobacco strain too and see what happens if you pick it, cure it, and sell it on Amazon or at your farmers market. It’s at least as easy as Cannabis to grow, harvest and cure. Then you’ll be able to answer the important questions for yourself. Do people like it? Will they pay a good price for it? If they will, maybe you ought to think about growing some more. Not go into full-scale heirloom tobacco production, but a nice steady $20-30,000/acre (or more) on a couple of acres isn’t a bad little side-business. Maybe if a few growers are doing it then you get together as an heirloom tobacco growers co-op, buy some inexpensive, low-volume tobacco leaf processing machinery, and develop your own brand. 

Lets Do the Math

At this point, ZERO of Oregon’s 11.1 million grams a day are heirloom, exotic tobaccos grown under lights year-round and under the summer sun by experienced Oregon Cannabis growers. Maybe that’s because we haven’t actually done the math and maybe looked at things in new ways.

Here’s the math – pretty simple stuff.

40,000 SF of Tobacco = 2200+ pounds of prime leaf* per cycle @ $500/Pound = $1,100,000/per cycle x 2 cycles/year = $2,200,000/Year/Acre

*this is a conservative fact-based yield estimate; I will argue that a reasonable expectation indoors under lights is 3000 pounds of prime leaf/acre/cycle

Why $500/Pound? It’s just my opinion of what organic heirloom tobacco might sell for, and because that would work out to about $30/Ounce to the grower and with wholesale/retail margins and taxes we get to $100/Ounce or $10/8th retail for organic heirloom Tobacco at retail. So that’s the question – will a significant number of current Cannabis and Tobacco users be willing to pay $100/ounce for heirloom organic tobacco when it is presented as a premium, Oregon-grown experience in line with ancient traditions.

One ounce of authentic, powerful heirloom tobacco won’t be smoked or vaped at nearly the frequency of contaminated, synthetic commercial tobacco products, and so for regular smokers that $100 ounce will last as long as their ounce of Cannabis and will be perceived by many as extending the life of the more costly Cannabis ounce. We can bet that a lot of people will do the math – one ounce of Cannabis at $300 and one ounce of Tobacco at $100 = two ounces of great smoke at $400 instead of $600. Sweet!

I think that the perceived value of heirloom Tobacco and Cannabis will be seen as roughly equal from the smoker’s point of view. Using tobacco and cannabis together is already well accepted and understood, and in fact is the preferred way of smoking in much of the world. What will be new for Oregon smokers, and for possible export markets in other US states as well, is the experience of smoking authentic tobacco, whether combined with Oregon Cannabis or by itself.

Oregon Cannabis and Tobacco growers would be able to make as a legitimate health claim within Oregon, directed only at Oregon smokers and vapers, that a combination of responsibly-grown heirloom tobacco with responsibly grown Cannabis is a healthier alternative to commercial tobacco. I’ve just documented the extensive pesticide contamination of commercial tobacco products being sold in Oregon, so making the relative safety argument is a slam dunk.

Commercial cigarettes aren’t actually what anyone thinks of as real tobacco, but that comes under a discussion of the marketing advantages of Oregon-grown heirloom tobacco. As for Federal regulations on tobacco; do Oregon growers care about Federal regulations on Cannabis when it comes to in-state Cannabis production and sales?

I think that the Oregon Cannabis industry ought to give serious thought to the development of a parallel heirloom tobacco industry.