Greg Lonsdale wants kids to learn about hemp, open up debate about weed legalization, and find a solution to the fossil fuel crisis, all at the same time.
The festive season is nearly upon us. Which means so too is the period in which you have to buy gifts for extended family members you only see that one day of the year, because turning up without something for your five-year-old cousin is a real dick move.
If your budget doesn't quite stretch to whatever's flying off the shelves at Toys "R" Us this year, there are alternatives—like this: My First Grow, a "cannabis grow kit for kids." Retailing at £7.99 [$12.25], it contains hemp seeds, soil, a growing cup, instruction manual, and a "My First Grow" sticker. Reassuringly, any toddler trying to smoke the produce from a My First Grow won't get high, because hemp carries very low quantities of the actual psychoactive chemical in cannabis, THC.
Still, what kind of sane, fully grown adult markets weed-related products to toddlers? I spoke to My First Grow inventor Greg Lonsdale to find out.
VICE: Hi Greg. Can you talk me through why you set up My First Grow?
Greg Lonsdale: First, I'd like to make it clear that My First Grow simply sells hemp seeds. Hemp is a plant that has no psychoactive properties. It cannot get you high. Hemp can be used for paper, cardboard, rope, fabrics, paints, oils, varnishes, cosmetics, building materials, and even renewable plastics. It's abundant in nutrients, too. Put simply: It's good for you. It's no more harmful than basil or mint. The problem, however, is fear. Hemp belongs to the cannabis genus, alongside its psychoactive relatives. It is guilty only by association. To me, this is as nonsensical as locking away an innocent person for a crime committed by a family member.
I started My First Grow to creatively highlight this absurdity; it was my way of contributing to the recent UK legalization discussions that have been happening regarding cannabis. I understand that the larger debate is mainly concerned with hemp's psychoactive relatives, but it affects hemp, too.
So do you want to see cannabis—as in the psychoactive drug—legalized, or are we just talking hemp?
I'd like to ask your readers the same question re-worded: Do you think sufferers of Crohn's disease, arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and many more painful debilitating conditions should be refused access to safe medicine and live in fear of imprisonment if they attempt to treat themselves or their loved ones? Opposing this inhumane denial of medical freedom is what being pro-legalization of [psychoactive] cannabis means.
My First Grow, despite what some unfounded social media comments may suggest, is not about getting kids high—[which is] impossible with our product anyway. It's about breaking outdated taboos. Today's children are the next generation of farmers, builders, and doctors; they will belong to industries that can be revolutionized by legalization.
Children learn that "cannabis is bad" at school from a young age—however, they are being denied the full spectrum of information. I believe that everyone, including children, deserves to know the truth about cannabis today if we want half a chance at a legalized tomorrow.
My First Grow appears to be marketed at children, but the website claims it's an adult souvenir. Which one is it?
My First Grow is a creative way of highlighting society's cognitive dissonance when it comes to the topic of cannabis. I simply used children as the vehicle to start the discussion. Adults buy the product for its novelty, but the discussion it encourages is a serious one.
Have you encountered any backlash?
Yes, but the backlash is interesting because it highlights a collective ignorance that needs to be addressed. For example, our website has been shared on social media significantly more times than people have even visited the site. It appears people become outraged by the evocative headline—Cannabis Grow Kits for Kids—and share it in disgust without even investigating what the site is even about.
The website, until yesterday, had a promotional video on the front page. This has now been taken down by YouTube for apparently violating its community guidelines, specifically showing "harmful or dangerous content involving minors." The video showed kids gardening. Not harmful. Not dangerous. Yet again, ignorance prevails.
Please educate yourself.
Where do you currently ship to?
I'll ship anywhere in the world, although I'd encourage my customers to get legal advice before purchasing as I don't want to get them into trouble.
How long does it take to grow a My First Grow?
In the UK, I'm not entirely sure. This is because my short-sighted government have outlawed the act of putting a hemp seed into soil. You need a government-issued license; something I don't have yet. However, during a recent trip to Colorado, I saw a sprout pop through the soil after five days. My return flight was later that afternoon, but three months later, José—the manager of the motel I was staying at—tells me he now enjoys the company of a six-foot green friend in the motel reception.
What would happen if I smoked the hemp?
José tried this, actually. He told me it made his throat hurt.
When should kids be able to buy cannabis?
If kids can buy over-the-counter herbs and spices, they should be able to buy hemp. However, for cannabis, I'd support age restrictions.
Have the police been in touch? Are you worried?
No police attention thus far. But if they come knocking, I'll invite them inside for a nice cup of green tea.
What's your vision for the future of My First Grow?
I want to start a not-for-profit company to grow and produce hemp products in the UK. I believe that in order to build a sustainable future for our children, we need to rid ourselves of fossil fuels, and hemp is a very real and viable alternative.
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