The following words are an origin story told as gossip or cultural news. I tried to be impartial, but it’s hard when you’re part of the story, but I feel it still has to be told so that it can also be used as an allegory for business centered around cannabis.
How I became a Cannabis Media Influencer (Thought Leader)
Besides being born an American with quote-unquote inalienable rights, my other superpower is the ability to write. Writing got me where I am regarding cannabis media/ activism; writing is my first love, weed second, then the kids.
My foot in the cannabis media door was a website created by two friends passionate about the plant and the reform needed on the laws around it. We wanted to change the world, I wanted to change it through poetry, but instead, we made many friends along the way. When I started writing for the internet, I wasn’t sure what to call myself. Others shape you through your works; they called me a journalist; I think of it as an accidental journalist.
I thought if I shared enough truth, enough stories about the deadly cannabis plant, it would change minds in the mainstream, but that wasn’t my primary audience. The internet was new when I joined the guys at TheWeedBlog. MySpace was the dominant social media, and Google’s algorithm was trying not to be evil; it’s here when and where I became a part of the cannabis media landscape.
The website was a step above geocities but with WordPress. We shared lifestyle articles (not knowing what to call them), political news, culture, and arrests (something unique to cannabis, a plant that has killed no one). We were trying to make a call to arms, not ones.
We weren’t collecting people’s data for sale; we were gathering people with one mission: legalizing it. As my friends were trying to find ways to make revenue with the highest cannabis traffic website without selling their souls, they met an investor who turned into what was a gaslighting takeover.
The website turned from a call to arms to a call to dollars. Let’s not be naive, people need to get paid, but there are ways to go about it without selling out the plant.
My original plan was to prove to people that cannabis is not evil and get investors to share this truth, but instead, business took over, or at least some bullshit form of it did.
At its peak, it was a grassroots website that pulled traffic from the canna-curious to those looking to know they weren’t the only one; in fact, you’re one in a million regarding cannabis consumption.
If you would like to know how to create a website with over a million unique hits a month, it’s a recipe of 1 part SEO, 1 part passion, and three parts volunteers, other things made it great, but at the time, I think this is why we stood out. No one made any money from it; what little revenue generated from Google Ad Sense and other means went back into the site for the server and other things needed to stay online.
I finally met the guys around my third year of contributing to the website. I moved my family from Arizona to Washington State for a job. The desert heat and toxic political environment became too much to raise our children up in. I left supporting America’s missile program to work in third party calibration industry. As a technician, I would travel across the Pacific Northwest, supporting various manufacturers’ calibration needs. I made my offline street team contribution here; honestly, I think it mattered.
I had three days in between jobs while I was in Idaho, it’s here I saw an opportunity, but also, it was kind of stupid. I drove 13 hours twice. 13 hours to get there because I had nothing else to do on the company dime. I arrived somewhere in Salem, Oregon. The guys were best friends who shared a tiny apartment, a computer desk, a tower that was the server, and what looked like a Walmart tub filled with about 100lbs of weed.
I will refer to the guys as their noms-de-plume/ Gamertag/ user name, whatever you want to call it. Johnny Green was the content guy, and Jay Smoker was the IT; together, they made a website with traffic as high as a hundred thousand hits per minute. Website analytics was one of the first things they showed me when I arrived. We (they) created a site that was the number one search result for news and information on cannabis and cannabis policy.
After the 13-hour drive, I kicked it in a delirious state with the guys for about an hour; then, I returned to my hotel room with a bag full of swag to spread across the country as I traveled. While on the road, I handed stickers and magnets at bars and coffee shops across the PNW.
About four years after meeting the guys in person, they lost ownership of their site; by this point, the site had lost a lot of traffic and credibility due to a toxic couple who gaslit their way to website ownership and high standing in a pretend community.
Not all bad people smoke weed. Not all are good people do either
This article is one part journalism, one part gossip column, and all parts me. Being unbiased is a keystone to good journalism. As part of the story, I will try my best, but you must forgive me when it’s hard to explain the truth while not getting riled up over basic decency.
I write this for some historical context and a warning of who not to do business with an example of bad behavior; as long prohibition exists, the average citizen doesn’t care about the trials and tribulations in the business of cannabis.
The Maurers are an example of toxic people who hold positions of power that are supposed to be impartial and impactful on the local community. I choose not to revisit old shit as the example of their toxicity, but if you want to see it click here (a prime example of why it’s hard to separate the personal from this situation when writing the story), but new shit that is toxic with a dash of racism.
How can someone claim to be an ally to people of color, belong to a chair of an oversight committee for Portland investments into the disenfranchised communities, yet tell someone of color to speak English? This subtle racism is bullshit accepted as long as he doesn’t say the n-word; to me, it screams someone who wants to say it but can’t.
Let me point you in the direction of the TWB Twitter account, an account supposedly only run by Steven Travis Maurer, and this is where Leah fucked up. I don’t think Steven Travis Maurer is a criminal genius; you’ll see why as I talk about my back and forth on Twitter, but his wife pulls the strings.
When Steven Travis Maurer thinks he’s in charge, he fucks shit up, like running a previously successful cannabis website that is now hustling kratom or whatever money is thrown at them.
Back to the Twitter account, the TWB Twitter account has 62k followers and guessing by the engagement, 90% are bots. I point this out because the Facebook Page has about a million followers with almost as much relevance. Both the social media accounts peaked when the website peaked eight years ago.
As Steven Travis Maurer tries to make an enterprise out of something he didn’t create like Elon Musk, he also uses the platform for personal grievances, which is pretty fucking dumb, in my opinion, but yet. Still, I am using mine for that, but it’s my story.
He’s used the platform to accuse a Missouri cannabis activist of being connected to murder by sharing an article that does not mention murder.
If this isn’t weird enough for you, there’s the fact that Steven Travis Maurer took over the @thatjohnnygreen Twitter handle when the creator decided to change his account to separate himself from a website he helped create – This is where things get spicy.
Trolling Kaliko Castille
I was trying to think of something witty to title this chapter, but the reality is dumber than I could dumb down. If you Google Kalikos’ name, you’ll find a young family guy on the grind.
I first became aware of Kaliko when I attended a one-time event called The Pacific Northwest Classic in 2015. Here I talked my way into a booth to gather signatures for pot prisoners.
As I was gathering signatures, I looked up and saw a banner for TheWeedBlog; I wasn’t aware of a connection and felt I was part of something bigger than me.
I reached out to the creators to see if they were in Tacoma and let them know I was there, but they had nothing to do with the banner. They said it must’ve been the new sales guy, Kaliko. We weren’t naive, we know ad revenue pays for the lights on and then some, but it’s the who’s and how’s that can tie you up. Kaliko was starting to be that guy.
Things got weird off and on with the site, I can only blame The Maurers’ gaslighting, and zealot needs to control a conversation they were just a part of. Eventually, most people either walked away from the site or had any login access to anything denied, even the two creators. Kaliko was one of both. Once denied access to an email account and other things needed to help with the business, he walked away from something that took up his time but he did not own.
Fast forward to 2022, and Steven Travis Maurer still blames Kaliko for his failures in generating revenue for a website. Steven shares hot evidence of Kaliko speaking up for the creators because, at the time, The Maurers weren’t total owners, just the main investors.
Here are some of Steven Travis Maurer’s attempts to undermine Kaliko;
The screen captures go on, and you can see for yourself by visiting the aforementioned Twitter handles and seeing the conversations regarding Kaliko. The point is that even liberals can be right-wing crazy.
One of the silliest things I need to address regarding activism and the overall end to prohibition is the ability to call out toxic behavior. Early during prohibition, this is an issue for many activists due to strength in numbers. However, as cannabis becomes more mainstream, it’s not needed so much but is still relevant as long as Federal prohibition exists. I always felt, though, bad behavior is a hindrance to the cause, no matter how much good you do.
Many see the Maurers as champions of good, but in reality, they are just good at creating an online image with the ability to sue if they don’t like what they see. “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.” I leave you this Tweet with that quote where they trash people who had spoken up when it never was cool.
You Can Have Black Friends and Still Be Racist
I admit that Steven Travis Maurer triggered me with this comment, “Speak English please,” his retort. You don’t have to be white to be racist; you can have black friends or what have you and still be a classless piece of shit.
It’s not the subtle racism excused by the rest of the cannabis “community” that bothers me, but that he holds a position on a local government board to help people like me. They are seen as champions for the oppressed by “donating” to the right people or sharing a BLM meme; they are great at whitewashing their search history.
Steven Travis Maurer is married to Leah Maurer. Leah has been published in several cannabis outlets, spoken at many cannabis events, and is just as guilty for the demise of TheWeedBlog. Even though I have only personally dealt with Travis, what married couple does only one make business decisions in the family business?
I don’t have much to say about Leah except that she’s as much of a scamming opportunist as her husband; one only needs to point to the only former chapter of Women Grow in Portland, Oregon. How much data did Leah walk away with?
Steven Travis Maurer cries misogyny and chauvinism whenever a man doesn’t like Leah; this is another one of their gaslighting techniques.
Whose The Pedophile?
When you’re full of shit, that’s when your mouth gets you in trouble. People like Travis remind me of Trump, a successful not-so businessman.
I don’t know Randy personally, but I know these accusations were large enough red flags for the creators to step away from wanting to do business with the Maurers. The lawsuit settled, and the creators walked away with a small amount of change and self-respect.
Pedophilic accusations were thrown around by these professional gas lighters. They have to retract it later but then bring it up repeatedly without a specific instance or name names make me question these people’s integrity and those around them.
When the most vital attribute of a website is its Facebook Page, You done fucked up
Money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you weed; that’s pretty damn close. One of the reasons I started advocating online for the legalization and normalization of cannabis is this law continues to be America’s cancer on the quality of life for citizens. A law that is doing more harm than good, and we know the cure for it. I first started writing to bear witness for future generations, to understand man’s stupidity, and have learned much more.
Years ago, a successful website was ruined by a married couple who thought they could handle it together. How do you ruin a website with high traffic? First, you push away the volunteers. You threaten and kick out those who started it because your ego says, “you’re equally good at things,” but there was so much you didn’t know and understand. Drone pilots are not astronauts.