The sign on the door read “Black Tuna Gang War Room.” It was the door to the evidence room at Miami DEA headquarters. My best friend and partner Robby Meinster and I were there to inspect the evidence the government intended to use at our trial. We'd never known we were the Black Tunas or that we were a gang, let alone that we were at war with the United States of America.
A 110-count indictment alleged we had smuggled millions of pounds of high-quality Santa Marta Gold marijuana from Colombia to the U.S. – the same Santa Marta Gold that became the legendary mother strain for most of today’s medical hybrids. What followed was a seven-month show trial that sent me to prison under the Kingpin law, to serve a non-parolable 64-year sentence.
Thanks to the old laws that allowed me to earn a ton of “good time,” I was home in only 30 years. Dead broke, I managed to write and publish Black Tuna Diaries in 2009; it’s now in its ninth printing. I hit the road to promote the book and the movie Square Grouper that chronicled the Black Tunas. I signed books at cannabis events and, at the same time, I founded The Silver Tour in Florida to reform our cannabis laws by teaching seniors the benefits of cannabis. I always knew that seniors were the key to legalizing it. Florida along with a handful of other states now have vibrant medical-cannabis programs.
Seeing a valuable source of senior patients, four of the five Florida dispensary companies offered to sponsor The Silver Tour. I opted for Trulieve because they put a high value on education. CEO Kim Rivers is now considered the most brilliant executive in the cannabis space. Trulieve very generously supported our Silver Tour for two years.
"In return for the exclusive marketing rights for Black Tuna, Trulieve pays a handsome royalty."
Time proved me right. In three years, Trulieve opened 75 dispensaries and acquired licenses in half a dozen other states. Best of all they’re the only Florida chain to support full legalization and the right to home grow.
I’d mentioned to Kim that I would love to bring back some of the old best-loved cannabis strains. It remained just conversation until Covid-19 forced us to temporarily pause The Silver Tour. That’s when Kim offered to market the Black Tuna strain as a reward for our Silver Tour success and as a smart marketing move for Trulieve. In return for the exclusive marketing rights for Black Tuna, Trulieve pays a handsome royalty.
How did we come up with the fastest selling strain in Florida? First, Trulieve’s master grower Kyle Landrum asked what properties I wanted for Black Tuna. “It has to at least mimic the properties of Santa Marta Gold,” I told him. Within a few months I received a Mason jar with three huge buds. Two tokes and I knew we struck had Santa Marta Gold. It took several more months to grow mother plants and then a crop. Black Tuna strain was released in September 2020. It sold out in less than an hour. Today, it’s Trulieve's the most in-demand strain and usually sells out in an hour or two.
RELATED: Jim Belushi's Search for Santa Marta Gold
According to Trulieve:
“Black Tuna is a potent hybrid of Lamb’s Breath and Herjiuana. Named after the infamous Black Tuna Gang, whose adventures were chronicled in the documentary 'Square Grouper,' this strain is not for inexperienced users as the effects can be racy, peppy and intense. Many experience a fantastically uplifting swell of energy, followed by euphoric exuberance.
“Black Tuna flower is dense, ranging from sage to light green, and is covered in frost and trichomes. The aroma is a mix of pine, tropical and musky scents, with a slight hash odor. Black Tuna is best suited for daytime use or as a pick-me-up when feeling a lack of motivation.”
The rest is history. Every morning thousands of Florida patients check Trulieve’s online inventory for the Black Tuna strain. Trulieve is increasing production and it’s now available as flower, pre-rolls and crumble. Cartridges may be coming soon for the non-tokers.
I’ve donated most of the Black Tuna royalties to The Silver Tour to keep educating seniors via radio and TV. In turn, The Silver Tour has made substantial donations to Toys for Tots, Meals on Wheels and local food banks. I also donate to Freedom Grow Forever and Last Prisoner Project to secure the release of all our incarcerated pot prisoners.
It all feels good. I’m one happy Tuna.