Name: John “Chandler”
Occupation: Vice President of Cultivation Technologies, urban-gro
When and how did you become an advocate for cannabis?
I first started growing cannabis for a dispensary when the industry was strictly a medical market. During that time, I had several powerful interactions with patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis and other serious afflictions who emphatically told me how much cannabis helped improve their quality of life by reducing pain, increasing appetite, allowing them to sleep, etc. The stories I heard over the years of how beneficial cannabis can be to people suffering has given me the passion for assisting growers in efficiently producing high quality cannabis. Now when I visit other states and see people who are suffering from serious ailments, my heart goes out to them because they live in a place with no safe and legal option for utilizing cannabis in their treatment. I hope to see this change in the future.
How has cannabis benefited your life?
Cannabis has given me the opportunity to find incredible passion in what I do. Being able to take my large-scale horticultural knowledge and provide safe, effective pest management plans for cultivation facilities from coast to coast has been endlessly satisfying.
What’s your greatest achievement for the cannabis cause?
Reducing pesticide use in the commercial production of cannabis. Pesticides have been a hot topic in the industry lately. In the past, many growers relied on several harsh chemicals to treat infestations of pests. These products have been shown to concentrate to very high levels in cannabis extracts, and there is no data to show what happens when you smoke these products. Through the use of soft-chemistry and biological controls, we are able to grow pesticide-free cannabis, that we can be sure is safe for the growers and end-users.
How did that manifest?
Every crop has pests, but because traditional pesticides are a hot button issue in the cannabis industry, I saw a need for finding a solution to using pesticides. My knowledge of integrated pest management in large-scale organic vegetable farms and greenhouses translated to cannabis giving me the opportunity to explore pesticide-free cannabis.
Who do you look up to or admire?
When I first graduated from Texas A&M, I interned with the pioneers of research in organic farming systems, Rodale Institute. In 1954, J.I. Rodale wrote, “Organics is not a fad. It has been a long-established practice—much more firmly grounded than the current chemical flair. Present agricultural practices are leading us downhill.” I try to follow in his footsteps, not letting the status-quo interfere with real progress.
If you could change one thing about the way cannabis is viewed and/or treated right now, what would it be?
I would love to see medical cannabis available to everyone who needs it. I have seen how cannabis benefits people who are suffering from ailments, and it is shameful that many people in this country do not have access to legal medical cannabis.