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Originally from Springfield, Mo., Rogers learned to play guitar at age 6, began training in piano and classical voice at age 12, and was constantly supported by his parents. With his mother working in radio, Rogers attended concerts of his soon-to-be-idols such as Lady Gaga and Nelly Furtado from an early age, when he began to plant the seeds of his own songwriting career.
“All of a sudden I got a DM from Justin on Instagram saying that they had heard my music and loved it and I almost passed out,” he recalls. “I saw Justin and their band open for Lady Gaga when I was 12, so it feels so full circle to have signed with them and Warner Records now. It’s a dream team for me, really. I feel like I am making the music I was born to make.”
But it wasn’t until 2019 that Rogers caught the attention of Justin Tranter, pop super-songwriter and Facet Records’ founder and CEO. The singer’s manager Lucas Canzona sent a cold email to Tranter with a live rendition of Rogers’ powerful 2019 single “Jacob From the Bible,” asking them to take a look at an up-and-coming LGBTQ artist. As Rogers tells it, Tranter was immediately interested.
One of the benefits of locating a cannabis farm in such a spot is the Mediterranean climate. Summer mornings here in the hamlet of Takilma are cool and progress to hot afternoons. More sun means taller, more vigorous plants. ‘A big part of the success of farmers in southern Oregon and northern California is the heat,’ says Nathan. ‘The plants just love the really hot days.’ The summers are also much longer here than in the Willamette Valley up north, meaning farmers can safely harvest cannabis plants well into October. (If you wait that long in Portland, you’re likely to have problems with powdery mildew.)
But very few cannabis cultivars that were available in 2009 contained enough CBD to be medically effective. ‘At the time, you couldn’t find people who had CBD in their lexicon,’ says Nathan, whose position was complicated by the fact that he was then chief of staff for Oregon state senator Mark Hass. During the long period when cannabis was illegal in the US, most breeders bred for one main trait: high THC. Nathan likens high-THC strains of cannabis to home-produced moonshine during Prohibition’s ban on alcohol. ‘Their main goal is intoxication,’ he says.
Now, thanks to the passage of the 2018 Agricultural Improvement Act, even people who live outside the state can purchase products containing the farm’s organic, CBD-rich hemp. Oregon-based Empower BodyCare’s CBD-only bath salts are powered by East Fork (and are sold all over the US); Grön Chocolates uses East Fork’s hemp for its artisanal dark chocolates (which are available across the US, and in the UK and Japan); and Laurie + MaryJane relies on it for their CBD-infused granola and CBD-infused coconut oil. All of which puts East Fork Cultivars at the forefront of one of the most extraordinary booms since the repeal of the National Prohibition Act in 1933.
Towards the end of his life, Wesley Howard was able to find relief with ACDC and other CBD-dominant cultivars grown by his brother, Aaron. ACDC, which can have as much as 17% CBD and less than 0.3% of THC, has incredible therapeutic qualities. ‘More people swear by that plant for providing consistent relief than any other CBD-dominant plant I’m aware of,’ says Nathan.
Though anti-seizure medications helped, they had negative side effects. Eventually, Nathan and his other brother, Aaron, came to realise that a long-stigmatised plant with which Wesley already had a lifelong relationship, might be a more stable alternative – cannabis. The drug not only gave Wesley relief from the pain, it allowed him to eat and sleep. But this was in 2004, when the only cannabis cultivars Aaron could get his hands on – illegally – were high in a compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is intoxicating. And while he loved the relief and escape afforded by the THC high, Wesley didn’t necessarily want to be intoxicated all the time.
In short, the cannabis industry is exploding: the worldwide market is thought to be worth $14.9 billion this year and is set to break $40 billion by 2024. And since legalisation, the CBD market is also booming. According to the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market and consumer intelligence firm in Chicago, CBD in the US is set to be a $5 billion industry by the end of 2019 and is on track to reach $23.7 billion by 2023.
Around 2009, Aaron began hearing about a non-intoxicating compound found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD). Known for its anti-seizure and pain-reducing effects, CBD also mitigates the sometimes negative effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia. The two are the most important naturally occurring cannabinoids found in plants of the Cannabis genus. And while they have an almost identical chemical structure, a slight difference in the arrangement of atoms is crucial: THC is intoxicating, getting you high; CBD is not, but has proven medicinal properties.