Offering that he “was just tinkering in the beginning but it qualifies,” America’s preeminent cannabis breeder DJ Short has been growing for 40 years. Short acknowledges that 80 percent of hybrids have his genes in them, adding that, “I have been releasing genetics since the late ’70s, early ’80s so it is not a surprise.” Short’s focus now includes, in addition to writing and speaking, breeding plants strictly for extraction, and leasing and selling strains as he has only released about 30 to 40 percent of his library. Elevate spoke to him about the federal ban, the future of smoking, and his epitaph.

It’s in my family. My great-grandmother was a gypsy herbalist. She got busted growing pot in Detroit in 1938. 1 grew up with that sort of knowledge always in the background. As a matter of fact, they used to joke, the grandparents and what not, that if the house catches fire, stay in there longer and take a few puffs before you go out because apparently the things like the curtains, tablecloths and linens were made from hemp. So for me, that aspect of it was always there. I didn’t realize it was a drug until I was 10 or 11 years old because of all the media attention pointing that fact out with everything (president) Nixon was doing.

I thought it would be one of them. I have been an activist pretty much all my life so anything toward peace efforts or sustainable resources, those types of things, I was always interested in. But early on, due to the oppression, it could only be a hope or a dream. It actually becoming a reality was an impossibility because we are just coming out of that fog now.

Ohio was a mixed blessing. I used to not care how the ballot measures were written and was much more interested in just getting it legalized, but now we can dicker and say ‘no, this doesn’t work.’ I am glad the media is focusing on it and that it wasn’t anti-pot, necessarily, that defeated it and it was anti-monopolization, which is a good sign. It just takes enough mavericks in this industry, who, if we keep the leashes long enough, will be able to set the standard so to speak. I am very much in favor of the smaller operations, mom and pops. I see no reason for this to go over one acre, one acre is 42,000 square feet and is capable of producing one million grams of resonated plant material a year. And with ratios of 20 percent – so basically a quarter million grams of extract off of an acre – that’s a good living. It’s not labor intensive especially if it’s being grown for extract, it’s something a small family operation can handle and I would like to see as many of those as is humanly possible.

The big talking point I have been pushing for the last several years is very simply this: cannabis is the safest substance known to human beings, which is a hugely bold statement. How do you back that up? You don’t have to. You add another statement and that second statement is name something that is safer? You can’t do it. You can drink enough water to kill yourself. It’s the only thing we know of that is a nontoxic inebriate that does not allow us to put enough of it in our systems to harm ourselves.

For me, it slowly is. I will indulge somewhat, I think, but I am more into tinctures and edibles myself. We are dealing with a human population that we have never had before — seven to eight billion people — so there’s room for all kinds of fads and interests.

It’s the safest substance known to human beings, why are we regulating it at all? I think a seven-year-old kid should be able to grow it in their front yard and sell it like it was a damn lemonade stand. It’s not going to harm anybody and that’s where we have to grow up and get rid of the boogie man concept. The more of this plant we get out into the world, the better off everybody is going to be.