Survive To Educate

Survive To Educate

By James Bridges

I pulled around the corner of the large empty parking lot. It was mid-afternoon. I could barely stand the sweltering heat radiating from that giant gas globe in the sky. I needed something cold. Something with some sort of quench at the end of it. There was a coffee lounge and an interview waiting just over the next curb.

I had landed. The place was called Aces of 8’s. I knew I was about to get lucky.
Alan Matthew Taylor, AKA the Dab Father, seemed to be setting up shop in the corner of this dark and surprisingly inviting coffee house, which I found even more inviting after grabbing the coldest bottle of liquid I could find.

“Yes. I’d love a dab from the Dab Father,” I announced after the invite was given by Alan. He immediately began serenading me with his open arms and inviting tone of voice.
“The funny part about that name is that it didn’t even kick in until about three years ago,” Alan chuckled. I was, of course, intrigued. I bit.

“Yep. I was not known as the dab father until 3 or 4 years ago. Way back when weed was still illegal in Oklahoma,” Alan grinned. “ Of course, I was still dabbing.”

“So my next door neighbor decided he wanted to come over and start learning how to dab. The first couple of times, he nearly killed himself trying to hit it. He never really damaged anything. He just coughed until he would pee.” We both giggled. Of course. That’s what grown men do when they hear the word “pee”.

“Okay. So, all right now,” Alan continued, “I came to find out that he didn’t really smoke dabs before. So we came to the conclusion that it’s time to teach him. At that time there were about four, five of us friends starting to catch onto this whole dab thing. I myself have been partaking in the art of dabbing for about 10 years.” So, the name Dab Father was just a joke at first. You know, like the godfather of dabs. So, slowly but surely, I started teaching people.”

I was curious how one goes about teaching another to “dab” properly. First of all, let’s talk about what dabbing is for people new to the game. Dabbing is consuming very potent and concentrated forms of cannabis. You use something called a dab rig in order to consume said magical products. This can and does, at times, resemble something straight out of a chemist closet. Yet, let me tell you from experience, it works and it works very well. But still. How does one teach this?

“What I try to do is look at extremes then dial things down in order to create the best results.” Alan dove right in, “So we don’t let you pass out, but we get you right to that edge where you wanna pass out, but you’re still able to function. Eventually, we’re getting you used to your moderation types. It’s at that point when you’re able to understand there is a medicinal value and you simply need to find that value number and dial it in. This is one of the biggest challenges when teaching people how to medicate themselves. It’s not about trying to over do it.”

When I enter situations such as this interview, I tend to reflect. I remember what the thought process was like just a few short years ago. To have to hide in the dark to gain access to such medication and pleasure feels like an eternity at times. Others, not so much. Other times it feels as if we have immediately stepped into a time warp. Here we are. Sitting in a coffee house in the middle of a summer afternoon while ripping dabs from a dab rig that looks as if it were made by nasa. Damn, I love this moment.

“Now it’s a process of teaching them about terpenes and which ones are going to benefit them the best.” Alan was getting to the next part too quickly for my taste.

I wanted to have more depth. Why is this person that is sitting in front of me qualified to educate me on cannabis? The “little red dude on the shoulder” advocate was put to rest.

“I was running gorilla grows in California for, I don’t know, let’s call it three and a half years.”

I leaned forward.

“On the outskirts of vineyards in Stockton, California. We were right on the edges, just on the edges of where the police couldn’t get us and the sheriff wouldn’t mess with us.” I could tell Alan was traveling back in time.

“The biggest problem we had to worry about were produce farmers. They would just go through and mow it all down. They didn’t care.” We both laughed at the thought. “They just chopped it all down, cause they knew the cops would never show up. They had the mowing on a schedule. Eventually, we actually had to get in ‘good’ with the field workers. They would let us know when we needed to move out.” Alan grinned, again. “I ended up going up the trees and I started planting up in the trees.”

Instantly, I pictured cannabis plants all over tiny tree houses. I wondered how many times people have actually walked under a barrel full of this beautiful plant and never knew it.

“Never, not even once, did we get caught. Right. Sheriffs would come looking. They would fly the helicopters over. You could see it from over top. Right? But, you could be standing directly under it. The police would come and look and it would never be there. We built these little platforms across the tops. We had irrigation hoses running up and everything.”

Something happened in the room that is rare when two people like us are present. A very long pause. I had to calculate some things in my head.

“Yeah. Haha.” Alan was laughing. “I eventually discovered that the trees wouldn’t be sufficient. We were right next to a river. So we ran the water right out of the river and straight up. I mean it. Talk about a gorilla growing. Honestly it was just trying to be sneaky. I knew cops usually never looked up. Right? I have run from the police in the past. I hid under cars. They always found me. Right? If I hid up on top of things, they never looked up. So this became a cat and mouse game. The mouse is up there and the cat is down there looking around. They’re looking down at the ground. Does it make sense?” I nodded and confirmed. “Mm-hmm.” Alan smiled. “Put the weed in the trees, put the weed in the trees. Yeah. Put the weed in the trees…”

Long before I ever talked with the Dab Father I worked with the Dab Mother on a few projects. It seems that communication is not only an issue in the medicinal cannabis side of the coin, but with actual communication companies as well. Herbage, until inspired to be remedied, was one of them. So I thought I would ask a little about the better half of Alan. You know, just to make sure. I was pleasantly surprised with new information about already known acquaintances.

“20-years-ago I had a cervical issue that came back Atypical.” Jennifer unexpectedly began telling her journey. It was apparent that there were no regrets. “I went through some procedures and they did a cryosurgery. Everything’s been fine since, but my daughter’s pregnancy was a hardcore weird. It just ran the mill with me. At that time, I just hadn’t felt the same since. I finally got in touch with a really good OBGYN and they found atypical endo cells. So they scheduled an ultrasound. It came back fine. There was still that question of why.”

“So we went ahead and did a cervical and an endometrial biopsy yesterday.”

Wait, did she just say yesterday? As in, the day before we had this interview? She started this out with “20-years-ago.” Anyone else catch that?

“So hopefully, um, it’ll be, it will be good news. Um, but, uh, yeah.” She smiled and carried on as if this was normal. For her, it was.

I wanted to know more about how she became an actual cannabis educator.

“I’ve always been intrigued by how the body works. As a kid in science class I felt at home. I loved it when it came to biology and we had to dissect everything.
I just wanted to know what’s in there. How does it work? You know, what’s going on? Um, then I kind of lost track. My career changed. I ended up in the military, did some stuff there, but then after I picked up and went to school to be a medical assistant and continued on and got my associates in sports medicine.”

Jennifer let me know she discovered that Western medicine “ticks her off.”
She was very adamant that the practitioners and decision makers are constantly pushing medications that seem to be the most profit driven rather than what is best for the patient.

Surprisingly, I was able to get somewhat of an insight to the amount of judgment that goes on behind the scenes in a doctor’s office. According to Jennifer there were many personal and moral judgment calls being made by those that have the power to possibly change the quality of life of others. “It was too much.” Jennifer spoke as if she found a lump of clay in her pudding.

Now that she is “free from that world”, Jennifer educated others in regards to cannabis use and benefits. Jennifer herself has gone through quite the personal transformation.

“I got sick with pneumonia back in 2019. That’s when I got really serious with cannabis. I started to notice changes. I started realizing that different strains were affecting my appetite and other health benefits that were specific to something. I just needed to figure it out. So, I started digging into terpenes and the cannabinoids that are in those certain strains. Everything started relating. I knew then and there that I could figure out a terpene that could help with certain ailments. So I did a lot of research. Sometimes it would help, sometimes I just needed to mix that plus something else and it would be near perfect. That would then unlock something else.”

With exercise, diet, and cannabis, Jennifer drove her weight down over time and in a healthy way. No pills. When she began she weighed 250 lbs heavier than she did that day.

“I got on a scale this morning and I weighed 135 lbs.” We both laughed.

“I fought and fought and fought my weight for years before cannabis. I was in the gym every day, making sure my diet was on point, but I couldn’t lose weight. I was constantly gaining and I didn’t understand that stress is a huge factor. So digging into, you know, the spiritual side of things and learning how to try not let things affect me that used to drive me out of my mind. Things just started falling into place and, and I’ve just kind of noticed lots of different changes.” Jennifer seemed to sigh a little out of relief.

I could sense a bit of comfort in the air. Jennifer was comfortable with exactly where she was on her path. Awareness is abundant in society yet genuine awareness of oneself is still rare to find. I believe that Jennifer has found it and she wants to share.

“I love my church, but I’ve been judged a lot for what I stand behind. I am judged pretty hardcore at my job, and it’s really, it’s been tough. It’s amazing to me because I want to shout at them and say I’m still the same Jennifer that you guys knew beforehand! I’m just in a better place.”

“My husband was the big driver.” Jennifer sounded thankful. “He introduced me to the whole thing. He hot boxed me the first time. It was great!”

Laughter, as you could imagine, ensued. If you know then you know.

“I’m just a patient that didn’t understand at first.” She sounded as if she were admitting guilt. I was holding onto the thought that she had to understand that her simplicity to this education is probably the most beneficial style of training to any patient wanting to make the cannabis choice. “I didn’t know what was going on. I just started digging in and researching and finding scholarly articles. I recommend this. However, I am here to translate and simplify if people ask.”

“Open communication between the patient, the patient’s doctor, and cannabis experts is key.” Jennifer reminds us. “Unfortunately, those conversations aren’t open. Doctors are making radical assumptions before seeing patients as well. I witnessed a conversation between the doctor and the patient. The doctor hardly had time to look over his clipboard before demanding that the patient not ask for pain medicine, ‘because you’re not gonna get it.’ The patient was very upset at the accusation. Medical professionals need to understand that there are alternative ways and there are healthy alternative ways, and it’s not just a drug.

Jennifer has a 23-year-old son, Devin. Okay. He was diagnosed at the age of four with severe ADHD and possible borderline personality disorder. He uses cannabis. Jennifer gave a simple opinion.

“I don’t think he medicates the way he needs to. It’s tough. I’m educating and training others. I want him to pick it up and really use cannabis for his advantage. I believe that if he would concentrate on the correct strains and terpenes then it would really help him.”

Her other child is a young girl named Sophia. Jennifer describes Sophia as her “mini me” as she has mocked the process when it comes to diet and a healthy lifestyle.

“That girl will reach for a bowl of salad before candy or whatnot. Now don’t get me wrong. She’s a little sneaker. I’ve caught her, but yeah, for the most part, she’s really good.

“I was 39 when I met Alan. I’m 45 now, but my forties have been my best years.” A calm sense was lingering. Jennifer was in a good spot. “Yeah. Um, I finally just figured out how to say, screw it, I don’t care. You know? If you don’t like me, whatever, it’s not my place to care what you think, you know? I’m more concerned about my family and loved ones. I’m healthy, they’re healthy. I can walk out of this life with a smile on my face, you know?

Alan commented about Jennifer as if he were talking about himself. I could see the love he had for another human being. I noticed a slight twitch on his lips from a “near tear” situation. “She dove nose first into this and it was. Just full on. It is amazing. Six years ago. She did not smoke weed at all. She was a heavy drinker. Jennifer and her family didn’t smoke cannabis at all.

“So THCV also helps the Thyroid. Not to mention a little bit of psilocybin.” Alan supports the use of all plant medicine in order to help the body, mind, and spirit. “Those combined together help unlock your brain and reset the chemical makeup, but it has to be done in very gradual motions. You can’t just jump in and expect to be healed. Right? It does not happen.”
Both Jennifer and Alan’s story is straight out of a script made to root for the underdog. This time the underdog is still paddling upstream. However, the destination is clearly in mind for the both of them. The most important part to them is being able to educate others. They want to help others to stay off off the bench of an underdog team, and possibly win once in a while.

“Yeah. I didn’t realize I’d be more of an underdog story actually.” Alan was completely serious.

Alan was recently named the Cultivation Director for Platinum Farms in Oklahoma. “I’m spending thousands and thousands of dollars to help get a very large farm. I’m looking back, wow. I mean, this, this is coming from a kid that grew up on the streets.”

“I’m 4-years-old. We moved from Oklahoma to California.” He was reminiscing. “We lived in a small apartment for a long time and it was just me, my mother and my little brother until my stepdad came along. My stepdad was great for the first few years. Like he was always great. And then my mom got sick and it was like, as soon as my mom got sick, he got violent and just belligerent and his number one punching bag was me.” I noticed a spark in his eye.

“When I was 7 until about 14-years-old, I was abused regularly. As soon as he came home from work, I either made myself completely scarce and disappeared, or I was guaranteed to get my ass whooped for something. It didn’t really matter what. So he put me to work at his rental yard, which helped give me the skills that I have today. I was driving tractors and hooking up trailers and filling propane. By the time I was 14 or so I was already working my way to being a full-time drug dealer. My step dad actually turned me into a drug dealer. We were picking up methamphetamine on an every two week basis.”
This got my head spinning. This person in front of me seemed nothing like the DARE posters that float around to warn children of dangerous people with evil drugs in hand. This was a very intelligent, well groomed, hyper focused individual. I asked him about the drug use.

“I was. Um, so about 12 years old was my first experience with methamphetamine. I didn’t really key in on it right then. So a couple months later my buddy brought it up again and then it was on from there. So at the age of 13, I was hooked on meth and I was running 24 hours a day for up to 21 days in a row. At this point I was mentally unstable. I was pulling guns on bushes. There was a video of me chasing ‘nothing’ down the street and shooting at it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it. Told everybody they were lying. That’s not me. That video looks like me, but it can’t be me.”

“So, I just completely played denial for a long time. I went back to doing exactly what I did best, and that was selling methamphetamine and marijuana. I mean, I was sitting there with long hair and a don’t care attitude for the longest time.

From the ages of 14 to the ages of 24 Alan was homeless. “I had my home base. It was a water tank on the corner. This thing is now a train station. I used to dig a hole under the side of the building and tunnel under it, so that I had a place that was warm during the winter. My mom was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She couldn’t get outta bed. They couldn’t figure out how to get her pain under control. She had a bag about the size of this backpack full of pill bottles. It was not good. If she had a sniffle, it was right to the pain pills. I watched my mom go from this beautiful creature to this person that I didn’t know anymore. She would never come out of the room. She would just be hibernating 24 hours a day.”
“When she did come out,” he recalled. She was on meth and she let my stepdad do whatever he wanted to do because he supplied everything. It was a situation where me and my little brother were just kind of left out to defend ourselves.”

“My little brother was taken care of a little bit better than me. I was the older one and I still remembered my real dad. My step dad even told me that because I know my real dad, he shouldn’t have to care. I was 16. That moment was the first real fist fight that we got into. He kicked my ass. Hardcore.” I believed Alan as he was speaking. The sincerity in his voice was non negotiable.

“I came back one day. I beat him down. I made it a point to do it in front of everybody.
It took me almost three years to do that. I actually learned how to fight in prison. I’m not proud of that. It was something I could have avoided.”

“I wouldn’t call it a success story,” Alan pointed out. “I survived. I conquered a ton of challenges that you think would knock someone out when they are at the bottom. All of this has been a learning experience. It wouldn’t be anything without my wife by my side.

I revealed before that Alan is now the director of cultivation for Platinum Farms. I asked him about his qualifications once more. This is a rather large task and I was curious as to who would be accomplishing it.

“My dad was a cultivator before I was born. So, I guess I’m a second generation cultivator. On August 22nd, 1986, a 400 watt high pressure sodium light that was ordered out of high times magazine. He had it delivered the same day that I was born. It was installed the same day. I was put in that room. I have been in a cultivation situation since the day I was born. I took over cultivation operations at the age of 16. I was running around when I was telling you we were doing those gorilla grows and stuff in Stockton, California. They slowly got bigger. We needed more products. It was cheaper to produce it ourselves and then take it to the street. At that time, cultivation was a life sentence. So manufacturing was a life sentence. We were doing all of this.”

“We were open blasting in California. BHO open blasting in the middle of vineyards, so that we could see if cops were headed our direction. I mean, we would all jump on dirt bikes and take off, no joke. I finally started perfecting my open blast BHO. I wanted to be one of the first people that had the dragon balls, the 3000 gram hash balls. I never made it to that point, but I was one of the first people to have the sheets.”

“I was one of the first people in 2012 to enter canna-butter into a cannabis competition. I received 17th place out of about 1,700.”

“I’ve dabbled.”

I can see clearly that both Jennifer and Alan are in a much better place in life. They are now positioned as caregivers as well as patients themselves. Both are in a very unique position to help more people than they will ever know personally. The derivative effects from the knowledge and passing down of such knowledge will last for eternity. Or as long as those out there willing to make a choice for themselves will open their hearts and minds and listen to what is now simply put in front of them. Many call this knowledge and education the answer. I tend to agree.