HER NEPHEW THE CANNABIS FARMER

Don’t worry, Your Royal High­nesses . . . it’s all le­gal!

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Charlotte Wace in Grant’s Pass, Ore­gon

IT IS just a few weeks away now and the Markle fam­ily must be burst­ing with ex­cite­ment as Meghan’s mar­riage to Prince Harry ap­proaches. But the ar­range­ments are not the first thing on the mind of Meghan’s nephew Tyler Doo­ley – he’s more fo­cused on the mil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of mar­i­juana he is help­ing to grow.

The 25-year-old boasts of his pride at be­ing a ‘pi­o­neer’ in an in­dus­try that is now le­gal in the United States.

Were he to be caught in Ire­land or the UK with any­thing close to the quan­tity of mar­i­juana in his busi­ness part­ner’s green­house, he would be jailed for years.

But while Meghan’s newly-adopted coun­try re­mains de­ter­mined to ban the drug af­ter new dis­turb­ing ev­i­dence about the dam­age it causes, Doo­ley is a fer­vent ad­vo­cate for its ben­e­fits, say­ing: ‘We are pas­sion­ate about mar­i­juana and all the good things it brings.’

But he is not com­pletely ig­nor­ing his aunt’s big day. In his zeal to spread the word, he is plan­ning to de­velop a po­tent new hy­brid strain of cannabis to mark the wed­ding, called Markle’s Sparkle. And should Prince Harry and his bride ever visit Tyler at his home in Grant’s Pass, Ore­gon, he will be ‘more than happy’ to of­fer them a sam­ple.

Tyler is not the only mem­ber of his fam­ily in­volved with mar­i­juana. His brother TJ, 26 – an­other of Meghan’s neph­ews – gives it to

‘I’m proud to be in an in­dus­try worth bil­lions’

his dog for pain relief. Their mother Tracy, 52, has a job sell­ing advertising, and many of her clients are mar­i­juana dis­pen­saries.

Tyler and TJ are the sons of Meghan’s half-brother Thomas Markle Jr. Tracy is Thomas’s former wife.

Tyler says he smoked his first joint at high school but no longer uses cannabis. Recre­ational mar­i­juana was made le­gal in Ore­gon in 2015, since when Tyler has be­come ‘fully im­mersed’ in the boom­ing busi­ness, from bro­ker­ing land for grow­ers (for which he takes a hefty com­mis­sion) to ad­vis­ing grow­ers on the type and strain of plants to grow, to work­ing out com­plex wa­ter­ing and light­ing sys­tems.

He has even built some of the ‘grow fa­cil­i­ties’ that now dot the lush Ore­gon land­scape.

Tyler took The Mail on Sun­day to a pot farm called the South­ern Ore­gon Cannabis Con­nec­tion, run by his best friend and busi­ness part­ner Fred Ta­mayo, 49. The three-acre grow­ing fa­cil­ity comes com­plete with a 6,000 square foot ware­house as well as two re­tail stores, and em­ploys 25 peo­ple.

The stores of­fer cus­tomers hun­dreds of prod­ucts rang­ing from tra­di­tional pre-rolled joints to pot-in­fused gummy bears, oils, vapouris­ers and pot-laced cook­ies and pop­corn.

Prices range from just €4 for a sin­gle joint to €265 for sev­eral grams of the most po­tent oil. A lemon doo­dle cookie two-pack costs €18 while ‘head trip mango guava gum­mies’ are €16.

OAPs and mil­i­tary vet­er­ans are of­fered a 10% dis­count.

The busi­ness is worth about €4mil­lion, and Tyler is now paid a com­mis­sion for sales and mar­ket­ing ser­vices. He was pre­vi­ously paid for find­ing the land and help­ing to build the fa­cil­ity.

Ta­mayo, a di­vorced fa­ther of four, was in­volved in the il­le­gal mar­i­juana trade from aged 17 and was jailed for a year in 2008 af­ter drug en­force­ment agents found him il­le­gally grow­ing more than 1,000 cannabis plants in bunkers. By 2015, he had ob­tained a le­gal recre­ational grower’s li­cence.

Next month, when the out­door grow­ing sea­son be­gins, Tyler, a li­censed med­i­cal mar­i­juana grower, will plant the le­gal limit of 48 mar­i­juana plants on his prop­erty – pot he will then sell to pa­tients un­der Ore­gon’s med­i­cal mar­i­juana laws.

Ore­gon be­came the first state to de­crim­i­nalise mar­i­juana for per­sonal use and has been at the fore­front of le­gal­is­ing both med­i­cal and recre­ational mar­i­juana.

In­deed, since the state le­galised recre­ational mar­i­juana three years ago, it has been flooded with grow­ers to the point there is now a glut of le­gal pot. Prices have plum­meted and many small pro­duc­ers have gone out of busi­ness. ‘The black mar­ket in pot has dis­ap­peared,’ Tyler says.

Meghan’s nephew openly ad­dresses the crit­i­cism from med­i­cal ex­perts that it serves as a ‘gate­way drug’ and can per­ma­nently af­fect the brain. A re­cent study by Pro­fes­sor Sir Robin Mur­ray, from the In­sti­tute of Psy­chi­a­try at King’s Col­lege Lon­don, warned that new su­per-strength cannabis could lead to a med­i­cal ‘tick­ing time bomb’ in Bri­tain be­cause of the ter­ri­ble toll it can take on the brain.

Skunk cannabis is four times more po­tent than the cannabis of the 1980s, and Prof Mur­ray warned that reg­u­lar smok­ers have a ‘sig­nif­i­cant in­creased risk’ of de­vel­op­ing long-term men­tal-health is­sues such as psy­chosis or schizophre­nia.

‘Yes, the strains are way more po­tent now,’ Tyler ad­mits. ‘But I would ar­gue against it be­ing a gate­way drug. Al­co­hol and to­bacco are far more harm­ful. Pre­scrip­tion pills kill mil­lions in Bri­tain and Amer­ica ev­ery year. Mar­i­juana can help peo­ple com­ing off opi­oid painkillers.’

He says a wealth of prod­ucts which do not con­tain the min­dal­ter­ing chem­i­cal THC (tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol) but do have in them the medic­i­nal CBD (cannabid­iol) used in oils, salves and creams for pain relief ‘are the fu­ture’. ‘We are learn­ing more and more about the medic­i­nal ben­e­fits, par­tic­u­larly of prod­ucts con­tain­ing CBD,’ he says.

‘I know this is a con­tro­ver­sial sub­ject but I’m proud to be in­volved at the start of an in­dus­try that will be worth bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars and could help peo­ple around the world.

‘Ore­gon is at the fore­front of a rev­o­lu­tion and we’ve proved le­gal­is­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana works and doesn’t make so­ci­ety de­scend into chaos.’

Tyler, who last spoke to Meghan three years ago but re­calls her babysit­ting him and his

‘We are at the fore­front of a rev­o­lu­tion’

brother reg­u­larly when they were chil­dren, adds: ‘Meghan grew up in Cal­i­for­nia and I am sure has an Amer­i­can view on pot.

‘I know in Eng­land that mar­i­juana is still a taboo sub­ject but it’s more nor­mal to us here be­cause we grew up around it in high school. Ev­ery­body ex­per­i­ments with it here.

‘Prince Harry en­joys a good party. I’d be happy to show them around if they ever come out here and ed­u­cate them on the medic­i­nal ben­e­fits of mar­i­juana which helps ev­ery­thing from post-trau­matic stress syn­drome to in­som­nia to pain in can­cer pa­tients.’

Tracy, who will join her sons as a com­men­ta­tor on the Royal Wed­ding for Good Morn­ing Bri­tain, sells ra­dio advertising for Opus Broad­cast­ing. ‘I rep­re­sent 11 dis­pen­saries and the money they gen­er­ate in taxes is re­vi­tal­is­ing the lo­cal econ­omy,’ she says.

Tracy is a re­cov­er­ing al­co­holic and drug ad­dict, and says she is a firm be­liever in ‘all the pos­i­tive things’ le­gal­i­sa­tion of mar­i­juana has brought to Ore­gon, cit­ing the mil­lions in tax rev­enue that has been given to schools, home­less shel­ters and to build new in­fra­struc­ture.

‘A prop­erly reg­u­lated in­dus­try is the way to go,’ she adds. ‘I hope peo­ple in Eng­land can see what we are do­ing here. We haven’t all turned into pot-toke­ing zom­bies. In­stead we’re cre­at­ing a strictly reg­u­lated in­dus­try which has the po­ten­tial to in­ject bil­lions of dol­lars into the econ­omy.’

Tracy says she has seen first-hand how med­i­cal mar­i­juana has ‘saved’ a lot of peo­ple. ‘It’s a mir­a­cle drug that can help in so many ways. And it’s nat­u­ral. By mak­ing it le­gal you can en­force laws and keep the prod­uct and con­sumers safe. It’s a win-win. What hap­pens in Amer­ica nor­mally makes its way to the UK later. Well, the sky hasn’t fallen in here.’ One of Tracy’s clients, Med­ford Coun­cil mem­ber Clay Bearn­son, is the first elected of­fi­cial in Ore­gon to own a dis­pen­sary, Ore­gon Far­macy. Tracy adds: ‘I hope we get a chance to talk to Meghan and Harry about it one day. I’m sure they would be fas­ci­nated to see all the great things you can do with pot, once it’s le­galised and prop­erly reg­u­lated.’

From Caro­line Gra­ham

TOP CROP: Tyler shows off the cannabis plants at the farm he helps run. Left: his aunt Meghan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.