The story of cannabis in the United States is a long and complicated one that touches upon medicine, commerce, and race and culture relations. From its 19th-century heyday when medicinal cannabis products were readily available through a century of crackdowns and legislative restrictions, the controversial plant is once again attracting interest for its medicinal properties.
While recent statistics show that even law enforcement has aligned with the popular support for cannabis — in 2021 Pew Research reported that 91% of Americans are in favor of some form of legalization — it wasn’t always the case. Even though the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) reported that federal sentencing for marijuana trafficking has decreased by 80% between 2012 and 2020, America’s attitude toward cannabis has ruined many lives.
Carter Creek Cannabis’ Slim could have easily been one of them. Today a respectable businessman and member of his community in Broken Bow, McCurtain County, Oklahoma, as well as a prominent player in the legal cannabis market, Slim’s teenage years and early adolescence were marred in troubles with the law.
“We’re in rural America, so there’s not a lot of industry around there, there’s not a lot of income,” he explains. “You either worked in logging, cutting logs, or you sold marijuana and grew it at the same time as cattle. I did cows and marijuana. That was my ticket.”
Like with many other kids, outside authorities influenced Slim’s earliest decisions. While he was brought up in a fairly religious community, and a family that had nothing to do with marijuana, Slim’s eventual falling out with the church and choice to become what he calls a “hoodlum,” was to some extent affected by his best friend’s father, whom Slim calls “the biggest outlaw in the world.”
“The way I got into growing was my best friend’s dad, he’s the one who got me started,” Slim explains. “He was paying us money, we’d buy beer on the side and snuff and fishing lures and whatever, and we grew weed for him. If we got caught, he knew the feds weren’t gonna do anything to us because we were minors.”
Slim harvested his first crop before he was sixteen, and he spent his sixteenth birthday incarcerated for one of his crops. Around the same time, he started cooking meth, which he’d end up in jail for. The struggles that ensued included getting released on parole, going back to his old ways and breaking his terms, going on the run, being homeless, and eventually being told by his mother how his choices were hurting everyone around him who loved him.
“I called on Thanksgiving 2003, and asked her to pick me up, I was hungry, I was tired,” he recalls. “And she says, ‘I don’t know who you are anymore,’ and not to call back until I’m completely changed.’” He soon ended up back in jail and knowing that this time he was looking at doing serious time, the straw he grasped for ended up being a court-run rehab program that quite possibly saved his life.
At the same time, Slim found his way back to God and he had the luck to run across a judge who saw enough potential in him to offer Slim a deal if he promised not to grow pot or break any Oklahoma law. So, Slim didn’t grow any pot. At least, not until medicinal marijuana became legal in the state in 2018.
In the meantime, however, Slim had already started turning his life around. He became an entrepreneur and started his first business in 2011. It was an HVAC company called Southern Comfort Heating and Air, and he stuck with it for ten years, before selling it. He also had a spray foam company called Big Country Insulation, which he also recently sold.
“Those were where I got my start for the last ten years, my heat and air company and my spray foam company,” he says, adding that the businesses got him plenty of awards for his entrepreneurial successes. Now, he’s into land development in Hochatown, and he owns somewhere between 12 and 15 companies, including Carter Creek Cannabis, which he established in 2019.
Slim’s turn for the better didn’t reflect only on his ability to make money legally. The head of Carter Creek Cannabis exhibits spiritual growth, as well as a level of maturity that gives him the perspective of what he does, how he’s perceived, and what role he has to play in his town.
“I’m very well respected in the community. Everybody here in town knows my story, they know I’ve struggled with meth, they know I’ve struggled with opioids, they know I’ve been in prison,” Slim explains. “They know I’ve been in trouble my whole life. And then I did good, I went away for 12 years, and now I’m doing this legal cannabis thing. I haven’t relapsed, and they recognize the change.”
Slim’s relationship with cannabis has changed a lot, too. From someone who admittedly had no respect for the plant and only saw it as a means to make money, he’s become a champion for marijuana’s transformative powers. “Someone might buy an eight off my plant, and instead of going to the liquor store to get that twelve pack and go home and do something bad to his family, they’ll stop at Domino’s and get a pizza, go home and laugh with their kids,” he says. “That’s what cannabis can do. And it helped me accept Slim for who I am, and you know what? I’m happy with myself and my thoughts. I have no secrets between me and my wife. So, cannabis and I came full circle.”
Written in partnership with Luke Lintz
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