A cannabis ‘Cinderella Story’

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IF THE SHOE FITS SPARC CEO Erich Pearson plants Cannabis ruderalis, the ‘Cinderella in the marijuana ballroom.’ Credit: Jonah Raskin

When it comes to cannabis, Erich Pearson doesn’t take “No” for an answer. That approach has got him to where he is today: SPARC’s CEO and one of the marijuana industry’s biggest public faces. Now he’s bringing about a revolution in his own company, planning for pot tourism and a cannabis lounge with a view of Sonoma Valley.

He’s also changing his company’s roots and planting Cannabis ruderalis, the Cinderella in the marijuana ballroom long dominated by the world-famous sisters, Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa.

Not everyone has heard of Cannabis ruderalis, which has been around for thousands of years, and has been used to treat depression and aid digestion in Russia and Poland. It still grows wild in that part of the world.

Farmers in Sonoma County and elsewhere crossbreed ruderalis with sativa and indica and then harvest, process and turn ordinary weed into extraordinary concentrates and pre-rolls.

The hybrids don’t look, smell or taste the way many cannabis connoisseurs expect weed to look, smell and taste. Still, the new girl in the fields has distinct advantages over her well-established sisters. Like the ruderalis that grows in the European wilds, the cultivated kind has built-in triggers that tell it to ignore the cycles of daytime and nighttime and to flower on a fast biological clock called “autoflowering.”

A crop is produced every three months, all year long, except in the dead of winter.

Over the years, Pearson has married outlaw ways to lobbying skills and business savvy. Plus, he knows all about cannabis. And if he doesn’t know what he wants to know, he finds someone who does.

“The industry now has specialists everywhere,” he says. On the subject of the new autoflowers, he explains that the plants “only grow two-to-three feet tall and 18–20 inches around.” 

Pearson buys seeds from a Sonoma County geneticist and ships them to Salinas, where they’re sprouted and shipped north 10 days later.

“I have 24–48 hours to plant them,” Pearson says. “You can’t miss a beat with autoflowers.”

A field with 20,000 ruderalis plants is a sight to behold!

After years of urban living, Pearson has moved to his farm, where he’s close to the action.

“I love it,” he says. “I’m outside almost all day long in a clean, healthy environment.”  

With tens of thousands of marijuana plants in his backyard, he’s never alone.

Jonah Raskin is the author of “Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.”

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