Dispatches From The Frontline

Author Greg Campbell goes from observer to “accidental advocate”


As a war correspondent, Greg Campbell wrote the book The Road to Kosovo about conflicts in the Balkans. In Blood Diamonds, Campbell investigated the intersection between precious gems and the funding of wars and terrorism. Now, in Pot Inc., the best-selling author covers another frontline: the domestic War on Drugs, writing about Colorado’s experience with MMJ and America’s “schizophrenic” history with cannabis—a plant, as he points out, that’s been demonized as well as lauded.

“I wanted to provide a bit of a resource and an example of my journey: my maturation in my understanding of what this plant is, and, more importantly, the maturation of my understanding of how insane the federal laws currently are regarding it,” says Campbell.

Campbell, 41 of Colorado, had people like himself in mind as he penned Pot Inc.: folks who aren’t cannabis consumers, who haven’t really given legalization all that much thought and who aren’t sure if medical cannabis is “real or a ruse.” Along the way, Campbell transitions from being simply an observer to becoming, as he puts it, an “accidental advocate” for legalization.

His cannabis book project began in 2009, when many cannabis novices were flocking to the field of MMJ for work. Dispensaries expanded in
Campbell’s city, Fort Collins, as they did elsewhere throughout the state. He decided to try his hand at growing to earn some money and as research for his book As he writes, he had joined “an invisible army of millions of suburban outlaws whose [federal] crime was horticulture.”

As befits a war correspondent, Campbell focuses on conflicts, battles and struggles for liberation, in his telling. At one point in Pot Inc. he writes, for example, “Looking at it in terms of an actual war, the cannabis insurgency has steadily gained ground, helped immensely in recent years by the plant’s newly rediscovered medicinal wonders.”

Campbell agrees that the most revelatory part of researching the book, for him, was learning about his late cousin Cynthia’s use of cannabis for
nausea during her battle with cancer. Campbell dedicates the book to her. Unfortunately, she lived in New York, which doesn’t allow medical cannabis, which once led Campbell’s aunt to travel to New York City to surreptitiously buy cannabis from someone she’d never met before. It still angers Campbell. He says, “My cousin would have qualified in a heartbeat, if she’d lived out here or in California,” to buy MMJ in “an environment that preserved her dignity and didn’t put my aunt in this position of personal danger—legal, physical—of having to conduct an underground transaction.” He adds, “To me, that was when the bell was rung most loudly in my head about how stupid this [war on cannabis is].”



Growing Pains

Pot Inc. writer Greg Campbell’s attempt at growing wasn’t successful at becoming a cash cow for the journalist— out of an $800 investment, he netted $500. He eventually wound up selling his meager crop of just over a couple ounces via Craigslist to a Colorado patient who told the writer appreciatively that he really knows how to grow “sick meds.” (He received an “A-minus” for his finished product from a cannabis professional who evaluated his efforts.)

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