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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Book Review

Idiot’s Guides: Growing Marijuana by Kevin Oliver and Chadd McKeen, 224 pages, $19.95

I started reading this book with the best of intentions. Those were to, (a), learn more about growing cannabis, something for which I’m always ready; and (b) review the book, so that others will know whether it’s worth the 20 bucks.

Uh Oh… Signs of Trouble

Truth to tell, I didn’t even take note of the authors’ names until I, to my surprise, had found a few obvious mistakes in the book. The first of those mistakes was of the nit-picky kind.

In the “Strains” section of the book, specifically page 21, the Berry White strain is incorrectly identified as a 100 percent indica. The problem here is, nothing crossed with sativa-dominant White Widow is ever going to be “100% indica.” Idiot’s Guides: Growing Marijuana just plain got that wrong.

The second troubling mistake that leaped out at me was much more than a nitpick. It was the assertion in the “Lighting” section of the book, specifically page 115. We are given to understand that LED lights “aren’t traditionally thought of as grow lights, as they don’t produce the spectrum of light that people usually think of when it comes to growing.”

This is so glaringly, annoyingly incorrect — in a MARIJUANA GROW BOOK, of all places — that it cannot go without comment.

The fact is that LED bulbs can be (and have been in the case of the best ones) fine-tuned to the exact spectrums needed by growing cannabis, both for the vegetative and for the flowering stages. Not only are these lights available, but they have been for years. Many manufacturers offer custom spectrums on the LED units they sell, to your specifications.

The fact that a book from purportedly knowledgeable people can be so fact-free when it comes to an up and coming technology like LED lighting is disturbing. My own experience with high quality LED lighting, along with the experiences of many, many other growers, runs completely counter to their claim.

I can only assume that these are the words of someone who has never actually tried top-of-the-line LED lights. That would certainly be a lazy man’s way of dispensing of the topic in just one paragraph — and that, sadly, appears to have been exactly what they did.

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Kevin Oliver, center, getting the down-low from the adults at 2014 Seattle Hempfest.
Pictured are Dale Gieringer, head of CA NORML; Rick Steves; Kevin Oliver, head of Washington NORML; Jil Staszewsi, NORML office manager; and NORML founder Keith Stroup
[Releaf]

Kevin Oliver? Ohh, That Guy

That’s when I took a look at the names of the authors. I must confess that the first though I had, upon seeing the name of Washington State’s NORML representative, Kevin Oliver, was, “Well, there certainly couldn’t be anyone more qualified to write an Idiot’s Guide than Oliver.”

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Co-author Chadd McKeen with Oliver North
[LinkedIn]

This is based on several years of interactions with the man, and his simplistic conclusions about I-502. These, no doubt, were influenced by his now-realized ambition to be the owner of I-502 retailers “Washington’s Finest Cannabis” (which decidedly isn’t, by the way).

Now, Oliver’s ignorance can be understood, since he’s not much into listening and learning. McKeen, however — who has worked with several magazines and the OC Weekly — definitely should have known better.

Then again, when it comes to McKeen’s good judgment — or lack thereof — his LinkedIn photo appears to be of McKeen with Iran Contra traitor Oliver North. So there ya go.

Sadly enough, Oliver actually markets himself as a “marijuana industry expert.”

If your budget for a grow book is 20 bucks, I’d definitely recommend you take your Andrew Jackson elsewhere. This “Idiot’s Guide” is all-too-aptly named.

Editor’s note: A slightly shorter version of this review originally appeared in the April 2017 print edition of NW Leaf magazine.

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