Diane Irwin spent most of her life as a hairdresser and salon owner in a Denver suburb.
“I was into makeup and high-heeled shoes and fancy clothes and working — a lot,” she said. “I sold my salon and moved down to the country. I wanted a change of pace.”
While Mom was looking for a midlife career change, her son was building a medical marijuana business, legal in Colorado since 2000. Diane Irwin loaned him $10,000 from the sale of her salon, and he opened Highland Health, a dispensary where patients who have been certified by the state can buy marijuana…
“He called me one day and he said, ‘Mom, I think we should buy this land’ and ‘How do you feel about growing medical marijuana?’ And I said, ‘OK.’ It was just a faith thing.”
Jason Irwin bought 37 acres in rural southern Colorado, tucked up against the Greenhorn Mountains. That’s where his mom’s new life began. In June, they paid $3,000 for two greenhouses, supplies and marijuana seedlings. Diane Irwin lived in an old camper and tended the plants.
“It was like an Outward Bound course for me,” she said. “Living off the grid, roughing it. We didn’t have heat. We didn’t have running water. We didn’t have electricity most of the time. The batteries were always going dead. The greenhouse blew away a couple of times…”
By early November, the plants were ready to harvest. The Irwins filled several SUVs and pickup trucks with their crop and moved to a house they rented in nearby La Veta.
A closet in the house is filled with marijuana that is drying out. The radio is set to NPR as Diane Irwin’s fellow farmers trim the stems and leaves off the plants. The leftover twigs are run through a screen to form a powder that is packed by hand to form hashish…
“I’m in for the long haul. I really do feel like we’re pioneers bringing new life to medical marijuana,” she said.
How long must we put up with the stupidity, ignorant so-called morality and just plain pig-headed politicians who afford carte blanche to the booze industry and devote enormous sums of taxpayer dollars to an unproductive “War on Drugs”?
Let cottage industry grow. Legalize and tax marijuana production. The big boys will roll on in, sure. Every major tobacco giant maintains “experimental” pot farms, if for nothing else, for executive consumption. But, consumers will support local homegrown the same way we prefer local and regional restaurants over Burger King.