Tue, Jul 14, 2020
∙ READING TIME: 4 MINUTES ∙

As COVID-19 changes the world and the workplace, the Cannabis industry has embraced a temporary rule allowing minors onsite at farms and processors during parental working hours.

“I don’t hide Cannabis from my kids and I am proud to be an advocate for this. I’m proud to be a stoner and a Dad and a good person who is living his dream.”
Jason Olson | TreeHawk Farms

While toddlers and mobile learning at a Cannabis garden aren’t the typical ‘take your kids to work day’ experience, the pandemic has shifted priorities and mindsets surrounding Cannabis jobs. Essential business designation has moved Cannabis into a new era of acceptance that is shaping the future of how kids and plants are viewed. As the pandemic hit Washington fully in March, many Cannabis employers and employees began asking themselves a common question: What do I do with my children when it’s time to go to work?

“Family owned and women owned farms are especially impacted by this prohibition in rule and are reporting being presented with the untenable choice to leave their young children unattended or risk losing their livelihood,” Oliver said in an influential letter to the WSLCB.
Crystal Oliver | Washington SunGrowers Industry Association

For Crystal Oliver and the Washington SunGrowers Industry Association (WSIA), it was high time to change the rules governing minors on licensed premises – so the organization sent letters to the Liquor and Cannabis Control Board asking for temporary rules to be put in place.

The WSIA represents 44 businesses and more than 80 WSLCB marijuana licenses. And the LCB listened to the cries of family owned farms struggling to survive.

“Family owned and women owned farms are especially impacted by this prohibition in rule and are reporting being presented with the untenable choice to leave their young children unattended or risk losing their livelihood,” Oliver said in a letter to the LCB.

“We request that the WSLCB temporarily exempt producers and processors…  and be permitted to allow persons under twenty-one to enter and remain on the licensed premises as well as occupy transporting vehicles during this national emergency.”

Jason and Sam Olsen, the owner-operators of Treehawk Farms, said that the ruling was the chance of a lifetime to let their daughters experience their daily life.

Jason’s dream of owning a legal Cannabis farm began before he was married or had children, and his expectations for blending the two have changed over time. In the four years since Treehawk Farms began sales, his family has juggled the challenges of raising children and growing a small business – while keeping both worlds completely separate.

“We believe what we are doing is the American dream. We’re family farmers trying to carve out our little piece of life, and the crop we are growing just happens to be Cannabis. Our children have grown up outside the gate of our farm, and because of the pandemic they’ve been able to come inside and be a part of it,” Jason explained passionately. “How is this any different from growing apples to turn into alcoholic cider, or owning a brewery? I don’t hide Cannabis from my kids and I am proud to be an advocate for this. I’m proud to be a stoner and a Dad and a good person who is living his dream.”

To be clear, a parent can hit a liquor store, gun store or pharmacy with their children – but they can’t pick up pot from a store with a child in the car.

The idea that children need protection from a plant is as silly as drug war propaganda gets, and it’s taken a pandemic for our fearful regulators to relax the rules. As part of the ‘Essential Business’ declaration covering all Cannabis businesses, the LCB made several other emergency changes, including allowing curbside pickup of Cannabis (with no minors present).

For those in the industry, the acceptance of being able to bring kids to work goes a lot further than the ability to pick up pot from a curb, but the gains are both monumental.

The iron grip of fear and prohibition is loosening on the plant and the family business owners are leading the way in the fight for the normalization of Cannabis.

“Our retail partners and consumers have watched my kids grow up on social media, seen me doing our own deliveries and know our stories. To me that’s our competitive sustainable advantage – doing this from a family perspective. I’m not hiding my kids, I’m putting them out there and doing it for all the people that are good parents and smoke weed,” Jason explained.

Taking a break from 10 hour harvest days on the farm, Jason noted that his kids had been present for the entire process of this harvest. From helping sprout seeds to watering and learning about the plant their parents love, his three and four year old daughters now have a relationship with the plant that provides for their family. Just as any farmer should have a connection to the land, the Olsen family now has a new perspective on growing Cannabis.

“The moment for Cannabis is now and we have a spotlight on Washington. There’s a whole country looking at us saying, ‘They are doing it right.’ I’m proud to be a dad and a good person –
living my dream and sharing it with my children.”

STORY by WES ABNEY @beardedlorax | PHOTOS by olsen family TREEHAWKFARMS.COM oliver family WSIA.ORG