Childhood besties turned cannabis advocates turned sweethearts turned docu-series producers...husband-and-wife duo Patrick Pope and Liz Grow have been through a lot over the years, just like the plant they love.
After years apart, they found each other again — and found their higher calling (pun intended.) Now, this duo is sharing their passion for cannabis through visual storytelling and doing their part to remove the stigma around their favorite plant.
A Long and Winding Road
After high school in the Austin area, these two young friends went their own separate ways. Patrick moved to New York and then LA, where he worked as a producer and content creator for companies like Maker and Snapchat. He excelled in the field, and even won the very first Shorty Award for a LinkedIn video campaign.
Liz headed north to study English at Notre Dame and began a career in sales. She later spent a brief stint in San Francisco, where her doctor prescribed cannabis to help with depression and anxiety. It was an eye-opening experience for Liz, and she found herself in love with this healing plant.
By 2017, life had brought both Liz and Patrick back to Austin, and the old friends reconnected. Soon enough, they were more than friends.
“It just kind of changed when we bumped into each other back in Austin. I like to say it’s because I saw him with no hair,” Liz said, rubbing Patrick’s bald head.
“If I’d known that in high school, I would have lopped off my locks,” he replied.
The duo was married in 2018 after nearly 25 years of friendship. Then it was time to have a baby...a business baby.
The Birth of Grow House Media
Patrick and Liz were both cannabis enthusiasts. But growing up in Texas had kept them away from information and education about the plant.
“We put our heads together and thought, ‘Hey, what if we started to educate our community through your powers of production and media?’” said Liz. A producer is a storyteller, after all, and there are so many stories to tell about cannabis.
So they created Grow House Media, their own production company. Their first project — a web series called Grow House. The duo travel the country, meeting cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, growers and advocates.
The show has given the couple a chance to experiment with creating cannabis content. High Times picked it up for their online programming platform, and dubbed Liz and Patrick “America’s Weedhearts.” (And yes, I’m mad I didn’t come up with it first.)
But then — COVID. While shooting for Season 2 of their web series, the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to travel. So how could they continue to share stories about cannabis from their home base in Texas, where it’s still very much illegal?
Everything’s Bigger in Texas
The 2019 Farm Bill opened the door for hemp farmers to start growing. So Patrick and Liz wondered what the rebirth of hemp in Texas after 80 years of prohibition would look like.
They began to reach out to Texas hemp farmers. Some were enthusiastic about sharing their stories, while others were a bit more suspicious. But in the end, Patrick and Liz found five farmers willing to let Grow House document their agricultural journeys from seed to harvest. The new show will be called Big Texas Hemp.
“We want to turn the camera on these growers, these pioneers of the cannabis movement in Texas,” Liz said.
One unexpected hiccup has been the ban on smokable hemp that went into effect in early August.
“It seems the way that they are setting policy would lead one to believe that they have absolutely no idea about this crop whatsoever. They’re actually putting ear muffs on when facts come at them.”
While they work on filming and editing Big Texas Hemp, Liz and Patrick are also shopping the series. The goal is Netflix, where they have some connections. But they’re also talking to other networks.
There will also be a website coming soon where fans of the show will be able to get more information about cannabis agriculture and see snippets of the program.
And in the future?
“I’d ideally see it breaking out of Texas,” Patrick told me. “We’ve already got people outside of Texas that are doing really big things in hemp that we are going to interview. So from Big Texas Hemp, we really envision a follow up series across America and the world.”
But Liz was quick to add that as Texans, they would never turn their back on Texas growers. “The Texas hemp economy is going to move the global hemp economy.” And it may provide a profitable way for Texas farmers to grow less cotton.
Texas produced about a third of the entire U.S. cotton yield in 2019. Could it be replaced with hemp? An acre of land can grow three times as much hemp as cotton. It has a faster growing time. And it can thrive without the pesticides that cotton relies on.
Plus, hemp can help reduce soil toxicity. It was even planted at Chernobyl to decontaminate soil that still held high levels of toxic radiation from the 1986 reactor meltdown.
While Grow House and Big Texas Hemp are entertaining and educational, there are also deeper goals behind their programming. One goal is full normalization around cannabis.
“At first, I was terrified,” Liz said. “We’re putting ourselves out there in a small Texas town. But a lot of people have been really interested. We consider it conscientious objection. I’m a taxpayer and a proud Texan, and it’s my right to choose plant medicine.”
The more urgent goal is justice for those that have been incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses. That’s why Liz and Patrick support the Last Prisoner Project and take part in fundraisers to support racial and social justice in cannabis.
“There are people making generational wealth right now from cannabis, and then other folks who are missing their children growing up for doing the same thing. And 90% of the men and women in jail right now for cannabis offenses are black and brown. So it’s just absolutely atrocious.”
A big step forward would be the passing of the More Act (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act), sponsored by Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris. The bill would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, allowing states to set their own policies and opening the door for research and expungement of some criminal charges.
“We’re in a really special time,” Patrick said. “We have a chance to build this incredible industry, and do it in such a way that sets right a lot of wrongs. And as advocates and media makers, we want to be part of that storytelling experience. We can go forward with this industry and use the money that it can make and the hope that it represents to correct those mistakes that we did to our fellow Americans.
“It’s what gets us up in the morning. It’s what gives us hope.”
You can follow Grow House and Big Texas Hemp on Instagram at @growhousetx and @bigtexashemp. And check out Grow House on High Times TV.
And call your congresspeople to tell them you support the MORE Act!