Nobody knows the world of the cannabis dispensary better than Cameron Hattan, though he hasn’t ever owned or operated a dispensary and doesn’t want to. For years, he was a cannabis cultivator. Now he’s a cannabis salesman extraordinaire who works with rural farmers and brings their products to distant urban markets.
“Getting weed on the shelves of a dispensary is one of the most difficult things in the world,” Cameron tells me. “The cannabis industry is like no other. You can’t use banks or credit cards. Everything has to be in cash.
“For years, I knocked on a dozen California dispensary doors a day. I’ve been to hundreds of them. In the early days, many kids who worked behind the counter had no retail experience, though they had smoked dope.”
Cameron pauses for a moment and catches his breath. “Prior to the passage of Prop. 64 in 2016, dispensaries were poorly marked and hard to find. After Prop. 64, purchasing shelf space became the norm. If you didn’t pay, your products weren’t carried or were stacked in a dark corner.”
For nearly a decade, Cameron and his wife, Shannon, grew marijuana for the medical cannabis market ushered in by Prop. 215, which voters approved in 1996. The Hattans were the first licensed cannabis growers in Sonoma County, focusing primarily on CBD-dominant strains. When their business expanded, they partnered with other “legacy” growers and grew a portfolio under the “Fiddler’s Greens” brand which they created. It’s thriving, as is their distribution company, “High Tide.”
Shannon Hattan grew up in Texas and attended Texas A&M. In the mid-1990s, for a class project, she did research on cannabis, which led her down a rabbit hole and into the marijuana Wonderland. She met Cameron in the Virgin Islands, where he worked as a bartender after a stint with the Marines.
A long and winding road brought them to Northern California, where they began to cultivate cannabis for their own health and wellness. They are a rare breed, indeed, who transitioned to the regulated market that decimated a thriving community of cannabis farmers.
Now, the Hattans spend much of their time educating the public about a plant they’ve come to love and respect. Their compassion makes them ideal teachers. The bottom line: try Fiddler’s Greens weed, which is available through 7 Stars in Richmond and QualiCann, an Oakland-based cannabis-delivery service. If your East Bay dispensary doesn’t carry products from Fiddler’s Greens, ask for them and tell them the Hattans sent you. —Jonah Raskin
Jonah Raskin is the author of “Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.” He writes the cannabis column for the North Bay Bohemian and the Marin Pacific Sun.