As of Hempfest, anyway. Three weeks later, in early September, he allowed himself to be photographed at the High Times Seattle Cannabis Cup.
To kill time, I wandered into the big white tent and listened to a discussion panel called “The Business of Cannabis: Expert Advice Before You Take the Plunge.” Two of the panelists ran dispensaries in medical-marijuana states, and two were lawyers specializing in cannabis issues. Together they painted a grim picture of what it’s like to operate a transparent, above-board cannabis company: Banks won’t lend to you, neighbors complain, town officials try to zone you into oblivion, the IRS contests your deductions. And at any moment, the DEA could come smashing through the door.
Short glanced at me, then back at the guy. He didn’t smile or frown. “I’m just happy to be here,” he said.
I spun and there he was, alone at a table in the back of the tent, wearing a safari-tan shirt, legs crossed. His hat shielded his face, and sunglasses covered his eyes. He had slipped back into quasi-stealth mode. I remembered something he’d told me on the phone the first time we spoke: “The nature of this plant, she can’t be controlled. If she’s taught us anything, it’s that. She knows how to survive underground. It’s not that big a shift for us to go back to that modus operandi.”
“> 10 Sitting on the grass with me at Hempfest, he guessed that his plants are grown in 60 countries now. “Every breath I take,” he said, “there’s someone on the planet, right now, taking a hit of something that passed through my hands. That’s a trip. I can understand how Jerry Garcia might feel.”
He was sitting next to us on the grass with a couple of friends. He looked to be in his early twenties. His eyes were the color of a McDonald’s tomato slice. He said he could trade us some weed for a bit of hash. Short dug into his bag and used a knife to cut a flake from a dark brown nubbin and passed the flake to the guy on the edge of the knife. “That’s wax,” he said. “Pure Blueberry. Enjoy.”
There were more questions: about the benefits of growing outdoors versus indoors, about controlling diseases, about how to clone a plant without degrading its quality, about which crops to plant alongside cannabis (Short: “Basil, tomatoes — I have great luck with onions”). After the last question, the moderator wrapped up: “I hope you’ll all join me in bowing down to these amazing growers and cannabis experts.” The crowd applauded. Short stood, took a bow, and removed his hat. He climbed down from the stage, carrying a small canvas bag on his shoulder, and I could see for the first time how tall he was — six-foot-three. A man stopped him and asked for an autograph. He signed the man’s Hempfest program and exited the tent. Short hadn’t gotten ten yards before several more men clustered around him, firing technical questions and nodding gravely. I heard him say, “I never got rich.” He laughed. “A lot of other people got rich off my strains.” He knelt on the ground, opened his bag, and pulled out a rubberbanded stack of seed packets, each a little larger than a business card. One of the men handed him some cash, and he gave the man a packet.
Another woman, a goth-looking blonde, was trying to get a picture. “When the master is ready,” she told me. After a few moments, she got Short’s attention and gestured to a friend who was holding a camera. “It’s just for a private scrapbook,” she said — she wouldn’t be posting it publicly. Short said it was no problem. She ambled up next to him, and they both smiled and made the “hang loose” sign at the lens.
Short jumped in. He said he’d recently made a high-CBD tincture to give to his ill mother, who suffered a stroke last year and was now in a hospice. She took the tincture in her orange juice. “It’s the only thing that stops the moaning and groaning.” He said he was just beginning to explore the world of high-CBD strains, and more research was needed. He could imagine an experiment that took 10 clones from a mother plant and grew them in 10 different environments. “Let’s test those,” he said. “What are the differences?”
The Willy Wonka of Pot A trip to Hempfest with pioneering cannabis breeder DJ Short T o get to Hempfest this year, you started in downtown Seattle on a humid, cloudless Saturday. You walked