I hear a lot of people talk about marketing cannabis in the same way they market wine. They talk about this idea very seriously, and seem bent on betting their futures on this dream of turning Humboldt County into something like Napa County Wine Country for upscale, connoisseur grade, cannabis. This strikes me as a very foolhardy gamble. It makes me wonder “How do people who grow this good of weed not get high enough to realize how stupid of an idea this is?” There is a big difference between cannabis and fine wine. The only thing they share, really, is the inflated price tag.

First, you need to remind yourself what wine is. At its root, wine is what happens when ripe fruit turns sour. You don’t have wine unless you have more fruit than you can eat before it goes bad, so wine is an intoxicating byproduct of great abundance. That kind of abundance does not occur often naturally. Some hunter-gatherer cultures enjoy wine as part of an annual festival at the end of summer, if they have a native species that produces an abundance of fermentable fruit. They may drink heavily and stumble around in drunken song for a week, celebrating the abundance of nature, if the bounty of nature allows it, but they will not try to save or bottle the wine and they will not drink at all for the rest of the year. That’s native culture, not wine culture.

Wine still celebrates abundance, but not natural abundance. Wine celebrates the abundance of tamed land, where the community of life has been evicted, to make way for armies of vines which serve only their human master. Wine celebrates the abundance that comes from conquering the land and enslaving it. Wine celebrates property, mastery and dominion over the land, and it symbolizes the abundance they produce.

The aristocracy in France elevated the expression of this kind of abundance to a high art, making French wine and French food the envy of the world. The French aristocracy took tremendous pride in their cuisine and their wine, and developed very high standards for all of it. The peasants who produced all of this abundance by their hard work, however — tending to those vines and working the farms — often went hungry. Eventually, the peasants got sick of it. They formed angry mobs and they cut all of the aristocrats’ heads off. Today, France is a democratic nation and the French people enjoy a high standard of living. They still make excellent wine and produce many delicacies which hearken back to those extravagant days of unbridled indulgence.

Before we start trying to become the new Napa, we shouldn’t forget that Napa is trying to become the new Bordeaux, France. That’s why they work so hard at the whole gourmet food thing, along with the wine, and the elegant manor lifestyle. In Napa, they celebrate the abundance of capitalism in this newly conquered and enslaved land. In a sense, they compete with King Louis the XIV in the field of self-indulgent opulence. I do not really see that as a worthy goal. To me, as a pot smoker, it sounds abhorrent, and I identify more with the angry mobs of peasants.

Now smoke a joint and remember what cannabis is. Cannabis is a natural herb that contains a revolutionary psychedelic — like LSD, only much milder. Cannabis alters our consciousness in a way that allows us to feel a connection to the whole of life. Cannabis changes how we see the world and how we perceive our place in it. Cannabis consciousness is about love, creativity, equality and the connection between all living things. Cannabis consciousness allows us to share the burden, the joy and the wonder of life, with all of life, through a kind of communion with the plant world.

Cannabis consciousness celebrates life in the power of a river and the strength of a bear. Cannabis consciousness respects diversity and demands equality. Cannabis consciousness respects nature and understands ecology implicitly. Cannabis consciousness inspires creativity and the impulse to play. Cannabis consciousness inspires an appreciation for food, not an extravagant palette, but a humble appreciation for all food, and the pleasure of eating. Cannabis consciousness encourages communication and helps resolve differences.

Cannabis consciousness looks for ways to reduce stress and minimize work through equality and cooperation. Cannabis consciousness has no use for hierarchies, authority figures or empires. Cannabis consciousness looks for quality in expressions of insight and ecstatic emotion through music and art. Cannabis consciousness sees abundance in the forest, but cannabis consciousness has no desire to conquer or enslave it, because cannabis consciousness knows that the natural world is family, and that we are all one.

Cannabis consciousness looks at a vineyard and sees poverty, slavery, toil and ugliness, not abundance. Cannabis consciousness sees right through all of the fancy packaging and bullshit hype. Cannabis consciousness sees right through it all and recognizes this upscale marketing ploy as just another ripoff, and just another attempt to conquer and enslave nature. Cannabis consciousness inspires revolutionaries and gives them the strength to fight. Cannabis is the people’s herb! It is not some frivolous indulgence for the bourgeois.

Cannabis culture is nothing like wine culture. The ideals of cannabis culture are different. The aesthetics of cannabis culture are different and the social dynamics of cannabis culture are different. Cannabis culture and wine culture are as different as night and day and cannabis consciousness recognizes that alcohol culture, wine culture, is a death cult.

Any bright future for humanity belongs to cannabis culture and depends on cannabis consciousness. Cannabis will not remain our slave any longer. Forget the wine model and the dead end culture of alcohol. Follow cannabis consciousness to a new ideal, a new aesthetic, and a new culture that’s not based on conquest and slavery, but instead based on love and respect for the whole of life. Regardless of how frightening and economically uncertain the future appears right now, that’s the only future worth betting your life on, really.


John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.