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Featured, Lifestyle

From Legacy Market to Legality: An Interview With Cannabis Breeder and Owner of Ghostfire Genetics Brady Watkins

Ashley Priest

by Ashley Priest

August 14, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes
From Legacy Market to Legality: An Interview With Cannabis Breeder and Owner of Ghostfire Genetics Brady Watkins

The legal cannabis industry is built on the backbone of the legacy cannabis market. Back in 1937, the United States federal government set out to eradicate cannabis with the MJ Tax Act. Since then, the federal government has tried very hard to destroy the life of anyone and everyone caught disobeying this and subsequent anti-cannabis. But why?

Was it for their friends in textiles looking to replace hemp with cotton, rayon, spandex, and other fabrics? Was it for their friends in the construction industry who wanted in-hand resources such as precious hardwoods, marble, granite, and synthetic products like concrete to replace hemp as a building material? Or was it for their friends over at big pharma that sells hundreds of billions yearly in synthetic drugs, many of which cannabinoid therapies could potentially replace? Maybe it was a way to help their friends that owned the prison system fill the quota for the Convict Leasing System developed in conjunction between private citizens and state lawmakers.

Whatever the reason, it was wrong then and is still wrong today. Yet, lawmakers have chosen to throw dirt over those who support cannabis. Covering them up, out of sight, out of mind style. Each person they arrested, each life they destroyed, and every person they threw dirt on because of cannabis became the seeds of activism that sparked the positive cannabis reform we see today.

The Cannabis Legacy Market

The “illicit market” is harsh-sounding. The term doesn’t relay credit to the countless breeders, growers, and collectors that have helped procure cannabis genetics from around the world. Without them, cannabis wouldn’t be where it is today. It may seem like a lot of people are new to cannabis, but most likely, it’s because they are. Real cannabis OGs are rarely mentioned in the media but their stories are out there. Once they’re told, they’re cemented in words to light the fire and inspire others.

Brady Watkins, founder of Ghostfire Genetics, has been in the legacy market for over 20 years and is now a licensed cannabis breeder in Oklahoma. While he offers seeds and cuts for commercial grows, Brady’s focus is more towards the home grower looking for fire genetics to cultivate.  I ran across Brady in the Oklahoma Cannabis Grower’s group on Facebook where he was talking about some of the work he was doing with an all-time favorite cannabis strain of mine —one that you don’t find anywhere anymore. I’m talking about the only and only Road Kill Skunk (RKS). Turns out, he works with genetics. Not just behind the scenes or at home but on a commercial level.

It was then that I thought there was no better person to talk about transitioning from the cannabis legacy market into the legal cannabis industry than Brady Watkins. Thankfully, Watkins was more than happy to sit down to share his thoughts.

Q&A With Brady Watkins, Founder of Ghostfire Genetics

QHow Long Have You Been Growing Cannabis?

A: I planted my first seeds twenty-one years ago this past May.

QIn your words, tell us about Ghostfire Genetics.

A: I started off learning from the forums in the early 2000s, and I needed a name to post questions, answers, and photos. I used to go by the name Ghostfire while playing Halo/Halo 2 LAN tournaments. I used that name for the forums too. Which, ironically, became appropriate for both. I was just a personal grower who didn’t want to buy Mexican brick garbage. I started to learn to grow using a few thousand seeds my uncle left me before he passed away. Those seeds actually turned out to be the elusive old-school skunk bud. I quickly became a strain hoarder, trading as many seeds for new strains as I could get from the forums.

Luckily, I saved seeds from around 40 different cultivars. Over the years, I have popped some and saved others. As most states began to legalize medical and retail cannabis, I began to post my grows through social media. I would have people hit me up left and right for these older strains that have been mostly lost due to prohibition and the drug war. I eventually realized that the Skunk plant and many other cultivars I hoarded were either rare or mostly obsolete. Around 2010/2011, I began trying to reproduce new batches of fresh seeds from these older seeds to preserve the old cultivars.

That’s when I started the name Platinum Exotics. This was before everyone used the name “Exotic” as a buzzword while producing mids at best. Eventually, over time, I changed the name a couple of times to keep my name unique. Then in 2017, the Farm Bill legalized seeds. It was then that I started selling seeds online to home growers, literally all over. Oklahoma went medical in 2019, and I was one of the first ones to get my med card. I still wasn’t sure how the laws would treat growers, especially since I live in the bible belt. I wanted to wait to go commercial until they got their stuff together.

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A few years later, they started a moratorium where no new licenses were going to be issued. I decided to jump in before it was too late. Someone actually registered Platinum Exotics as a dispo, so I went back to Ghostfire and added Genetics since that’s what I truly want to focus on and Ghostfire Genetics was born. Growing commercially is cool and all, but I’m a breeder at heart. I love breeding new cultivars with old cultivars to create something different than what’s on the market already. It’s just extremely difficult doing it with a patient count.

Luckily, Oklahoma doesn’t have a plant count for commercial growers… Yet. We still have plenty of things to fight for here in Oklahoma, but at least we have access to the plant now as patients. That’s really what counts!

QWas there any hesitation about coming from the cannabis legacy market, entering into the newly founded legal cannabis sector?

A: Not at first, but now I’m starting to regret it. They keep screwing us with the laws, and everyone who hears “medical marijuana” instantly ups the price of everything. It’s really demoralizing. The politicians are actively trying to kill this industry. It’s just getting to be too much with these record-low prices.

QWhat hurdles or obstacles, if any, did you encounter transitioning to the legal cannabis sector?

A: Basically, learning all the compliance issues from all the organizations involved and keeping up to date on all of it. It changes drastically every year with new legislation.

QWhat’s your viewpoint on the current listing of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug?

A: We all know that cannabis was made illegal because of racism. It stays that way because of the pharmaceutical industry lobbying. Hopefully, Biden does something good for us and legalizes cannabis federally.

QWhat’s your favorite strain to grow and why?

A: Man, that’s a really tough one. My favorite to grow would probably be Sour Diesel. It grows nice, big, fat, chunky colas of pure Sour. It’s one of my favorite smokes of all time, and doesn’t really mind most things you do to it. My favorite smoke is probably the pieguy420 cut of Cherry Pie right now. I grew and smoked Skunk for years and years, so it’s nice to have something that’s sweeter, and I love those cherry terps at the moment.

QWhat advice would you offer to people growing cannabis professionally and at home?

A: Don’t try answering people’s questions about growing, especially new growers, if you don’t truly know the answer. It’s tiring seeing new growers ask for help only to get 15 wrong answers. It’s ok to still be learning years into your cannabis grow journey. I’m twenty-one years deep, and I am still learning all the time. Even from less experienced growers.

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