After attending the opening of Mel Frank’s, “When We Were Criminals,” I was eager to learn more. The exhibition is at M+B Photo in Los Angeles and it captures the life and times of cultivators and the development of cannabis across decades, throughout the United States.
Mel Frank is the pen name of James Goodman, the botanist, photographer, and author renowned for his genetic work with cannabis. I had the opportunity to interview the marijuana legend and inquire about his journey, his pseudonym, and his outlook of cannabis.
[This interview was edited for length and clarity]
Q: When did you start going by Mel Frank?
A: In 1971. I had written an article and when the publisher called me and asked, “Hey, what name do you want to use?” I had three cats at the time, Mellon, Yammy, and Frank. In the moment I first said, “Frank Mellon?” No that doesn’t work, how about “Mel Frank?” and I’ve had it ever since.
Q: What was it like when “Marijuana Grower’s Guide Deluxe” began to appear in everyday bookstores?
A: “That was pretty amazing. I was naive enough to not realize how impactful a good New York Times book review could be. Once the New York Times gives a good review, everybody else will give some kind of review and bookstores will begin to carry it. I think Marijuana Growers Deluxe was the first book in stores that had anything to do with growing or producing marijuana.”
Q: Why did it take Ed Rosenthal a year to persuade you to write the book?
The federal government makes no distinction between medical and recreational marijuana. They’re right. All marijuana should be legal. In a 420 Tweet, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says marijuana shouldn’t be banned by Washington. Warren said: “The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana. States should make their own decisions about enforcing marijuana laws.” You can read more about it here http://bit.ly/AllMarijuanaShouldBeLegal #LinkInMyBio #legalizeit #cannabis #marijuana #weed #ganja #concentrates
A post shared by Ed Rosenthal (@edrosenthal420) on Apr 24, 2018 at 8:21am PDT
A: It took quite a while, yes. He could be [laughs]a pest! He’s a very determined guy, but it changed my life. We took the article and fleshed it out then off he went. Ed wound up in San Francisco, California. We split [a]35 cent commission on it, 17.5 cents each.
When “Marijuana Grower’s Guide” came out in 1974, I was attending a city college in New York. I just really was determined to write the best book I could with everything: history, chemistry, botany, and how to grow indoors or out. That later became the basis of the Deluxe book. One of the things you learn in college is how to research, and I took all the biology classes I could.
Q: Did you know “Marijuana Grower’s Guide” would later become the backbone of cultivation?
A: Not really. I didn’t realize what an impact it had on the United States in general. I visited California for a summer in 1975, with that Ed and I extensively…