September 20, 2023
As we bring to you Dennis Hunter’s last episode of The Weedsmith, a meditation on modern cannabis leadership, we wanted you to learn about this co-CEO and founder of CannaCraft’s experience of being indicted by the DEA.
You are listening to The Weedsmith, a show about modern cannabis leadership. Today I'm thankful to be sitting across from Dennis Hunter.
It’s that time in the program we call Buzzkill. This section of the show is really a case study of a fail. This is the kind of fail that has you rethinking direction, questioning your own instinct. But it’s also the kind of fail that forces you to reassess and learn. And when you come out the other side of it, you’re stronger, you’re smarter. You’re more ready to run this business and live that life than you’ve ever been.
So, Dennis, let’s hear about your Buzzkill.
It's hard to have a bigger buzzkill than getting indicted by the DEA.
Yeah, I can't imagine you're gonna top that.
I've definitely had plenty of failures. That was one where, you know, I was on top of the world, everything just going great. I'm about 26. I'm up in Humboldt County. I have a large indoor grow operation out in the middle of nowhere. You know, three gates, five-mile driveways, and it was a scary morning.
Find a couple of guys walking on the road. I tried to put them under citizen's arrest. You can imagine how that worked out. They ended up eventually pulling out their necklace badges and handguns. I found out they were undercover DEA agents. I took off, off the side of the road, and ran and got my wife and daughter out, out of the the area, and then went back to where all of our staff were at our facility, and got them out. Got out of there myself and tried to go assess what was going to happen.
I was looking at 20 years mandatory minimum sentence. It was really scary and so I went on the run for four and a half years, just waiting for things to change a little bit. But four and a half years later, I was apprehended by the feds. And that was the low of my life for sure. That was a very heart-piercing day, where I pretty much got ripped from my family and ended up getting sentenced to six and a half years in federal prison.
And it was horrible. First two years, just lowest place you can be. Just stressing, trying to hang onto my marriage. I had a really great friend during that time: David Ford. And he wrote me literally every three or four days the whole time I was away. It was really that support for me and really got me just thinking about the possibilities. I really just turned my mindset around and I was really just planning for all the opportunities, all the things I get to do in the future, and getting out just super-motivated.
And so I just got out with that drive and that appreciation for life and freedom. And I started a hydroponic distribution and manufacturing company where I made cultivation supplies for people, because I was on probation so I couldn't touch the plant.
And then once I got off probation, it was trying to have that plan to get back into cannabis, but do it the right way where I wouldn't be jeopardizing my freedom or at least, you know, stupidly doing that. So my family members of course don't understand it. And maybe I don't either, but it definitely is a calling and feels like a purpose and I've had quite a few little miracles happen along the way that just feel like there's a chosen path, you know?