With tough times in the California's cannabis industry, some companies are picking up and moving to friendlier legal states like Oklahoma where medical marijuana is doing big business.
That's what Jorel Decker, frontman of the Los Angeles rap-rock band Hollywood Undead, did. He loaded up his grow equipment in 2019 and headed East to Lindsay, OK where he now operates his company Ramshead Cannabis' cultivation facility.
“We tried everything to be legal in California and it was never enough money to pass the finish line," says Decker, who's known as J-Dog. “The only hope of making money in the legal market in California is to go extremely large and have extremely deep pockets.
"When we came to Oklahoma, we got a fresh start, but it is still cannabis and we have hit plenty of roadblocks along the way. We've persevered and are beginning to see a profit. I love it so much that I moved to Oklahoma permanently.”
Decker started growing pot in 2013 "just to make some extra money at the time to pay my rent," he says. "I wanted to keep touring with my band, but wasn't able to tour and pay rent. We had to work odd jobs in between tours.
"I sold my car to make space in the garage. I needed the money for my first grow set up. I went into a hydro store on Hollywood Blvd. that I was always passing, Superior Hydro. I started asking questions and bought some grow tents and everything I needed for $7,000. I went all-in with the car money.
Jorel Decker: "I wanted a chance in the legal market, which wasn't an option in California."
"From the moment the first plant touched the coco I was hooked. I spent all my free time in that garage and was obsessed. Fast forward years later, I moved to a bigger garage, and then warehouses, taking massive leaps of faith in myself and experiencing massive failures. Time and time again the ups and downs were crazy. More downs than ups. I never stopped even when I should have.
"Growing consumed me day and night, which it still does. I wanted a chance in the legal market, which wasn't an option in California. I tried but it wasn't a level playing field. When I heard Oklaoma went legal it was like a second chance. So, we've been growing in Oklahoma for over three years now. Together with our team, we run and control grows from afar. I can control my small personal grow while I'm on tour now by making adjustments and monitoring everything on my phone."
Decker founded Ramshead Cannabis with bandmate George Ragan (a.k.a. Johnny 3 Tears) earlier this year. The company has a license to cultivate for medical use only in Oklahoma where there are more than 2,000 dispensaries. "We're pheno-hunting strains and popping seeds," Decker declares. "Pheno-hunting is to collect strains that nobody else has. We select the best strain out of each seed. It's taken us three years to get Tokyo Snow to the marketplace. We pop 200 seeds and, over time, test the THC for yield, quality and smokeability. It’s craft cannabis for the connoisseur."
About Tokyo Snow, he crows: "It's a total original. Nobody has this specific version. The way we grow it is completely different than anyone else. It may be the smoothest weed you’ll ever smoke."
Hollywood Undead are still together and recording. Their next album, their eighth, Hotel Kalifornia, is due out August 12. Watch the band's latest single, "City of the Dead," below.
"It was a weird time for the music industry," notes Decker, whose band dates back to 2005. "We signed a deal which completely crippled us financially. But when you're that broke and someone offers you lump sums of money, you don't care about the devil in the details. Music streaming wasn't popular yet and physical sales were not happening anymore, so we weren't seeing any revenue. We owed so much money to the [record] label. We were selling out shows, big ones, and coming home with $3,000 after six weeks of touring. For years!"
Now, Decker and Ragan can manage both their careers, thanks to the wide-open market in Oklahoma for California's cannabis refugees. Who knows, maybe some day, they'll return to L.A. and give it another try.