Article headline above, published in the Salt Lake City Telegram in 1949; alerting to help with epilepsy using cannabis.

Note: Sharon typically writes long form features. The following stories are current events. See the "Features" page for her long form work. The following articles have been previously published, as noted.


America’s Trusted Face of Cannabis Detained at Canadian Border

Farmer Tom Brand.jpg

Farmer Tom Lauerman’s Jingle may have saved the farmer from deportation

By Sharon Letts

While the cannabis community in America applauds Canada’s move to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, Canadian immigration officials see trouble at the border; with Canadian attorney, Len Saunders, stating, “I see a wall on the northern border for Canadians because of marijuana,” per Canada’s CBC News.

Traveling from one state to another with cannabis products and plant material has never been legal in the U.S., no matter that Canada has now legalized, U.S. cannabis patients or otherwise are not allowed to import, export, or carry cannabis products across either border.

Devin Thomas_Mandatory.jpg

Recently, infamous Washington State cannabis farmer, Tom Lauerman, made the trek to Canada on the country’s first day of legalization out of coincidence, with an invitation to attend the Season 3 finale of “Expert Joints LIVE!,” an online streaming show on cannabis in Canada, when he was stopped and questioned about any affiliations with cannabis in the states.

Self-Profiling via Social Media

“While I was in the holding tank I watched Canadian news, and they were talking about legalization and how the border patrol was cracking down on cannabis tourists,” Tom shared in a social media post after the incident. “I was their test subject and they let me know they’d be looking at my website and my social media.”

Canada retains the right to check communication tools, using social media platforms as a profiling tool at its border.

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Lauerman wasn’t concerned about being stopped, as he said he followed the rules and was not carrying any incriminating products, and added that he was thankful he purposefully left behind paraphernalia at a dispensary stateside before crossing; including a pair of trimming scissors, a grinder, and a few small samples of flower given to him for judging an upcoming competition in the states.

“With Canada celebrating legalization on that day, and me on my way to meet with Canadian cannabis community members and friends – bringing flower across the border would be like bringing sand to the beach,” Lauerman laughed. “My main concern was not getting thrown out of the country and missing appointments!”

Tricky questions were said to be asked, as Lauerman explained to the guards he was an “educator and farmer.”

When she asked what kind of farmer I was, I honestly told her I farmed cannabis. That’s when they checked the internet, my website - and heard the jingle on my home page. I’m thinking my jingle may have saved me from being deported.
— Farmer Tom Laurerman

“When she asked what kind of farmer I was, I honestly told her I farmed cannabis,” Lauerman shared. “That’s when they checked the internet, my website – and heard the jingle on my home page. I’m thinking my jingle may have saved me from being deported.”

Jingle as Influencer

A Jingle is that little tune within a commercial for a product or service that, once stuck in your head, is hard to get rid of. Sing it enough and you might even believe what it says – likened to branding hypnosis, in the world of marketing, if you will.

According to How Things Work.com, the beginnings of the first jingle ever written was said to come from a song recorded for Oldsmobile in 1905, “In My Merry Oldsmobile;” letting potential customers know they’d be happy while driving its merry sedan. The song superseded commercial radio, though, and in the 1920s the company shortened it for a kind of audio meme for radio, dubbing the little ditty a Jingle, becoming the first viral commercial influencer to the masses.

While perusing the farmer’s website or social media accounts, border guards could have been influenced merely by Farmer Tom’s prominent tag line, “The trusted face of cannabis.” But, having the Jingle pop up, with a singer’s soothing voice declaring trust within a market fraught with suspicion and misinformation, might have been an unassuming psychological win.

La, la, la, la, Farmer Tom Organics, the trusted face of cannabis.
— Renee Carly & Don Schiff, Jingle Bar

The Jingle was written and performed by singer/songwriter Renee Carly of Los Angeles, with her writing partner Don Schiff of Napa, California, under their shingle, Jingle Bar.

 Don schiff, co-founder of jingle bar is known as a master of the chapman stick, a 12-string dual guitar and bass.

Don schiff, co-founder of jingle bar is known as a master of the chapman stick, a 12-string dual guitar and bass.

Carly first picked up a guitar at the age of 12, fine tuning her musical abilities in her twenties; while Schiff is known for mastering the Chapman Stick, a 12-string dual guitar and bass. The two have been professionally writing and recording music for film and television, jingles, musicals and more, for more than 20 years; just recently entering into the cannabis space, customizing said Jingle for the trusted farmer.

“The reason we chose Farmer Tom’s Organics for our first foray into the cannabis market, was due to his reputation in the industry and his positive presence on social media,” Carly explained. “Possibly influencing border guards was never our intention, but it’s an unusual affirmation of what the power of music can do. In this instance, the jingle may have transcended the situation from disbelief to validating Tom’s credibility.”

 Renee carly works in television and film, and has played the guitar, writing her own music, since she was 12.

Renee carly works in television and film, and has played the guitar, writing her own music, since she was 12.

Changing Minds, One Jingle at a Time

Lauerman said he watched as the guard called her supervisor over to the computer, with both of them laughing and nodding to the farmer.

“I’m thinking to myself, they must be on my website and must be listening to my Jingle!” he surmised. “I really got a good chuckle out of that. Social Media is an amazing tool to get the word out, normalizing cannabis – not just on a national level, but globally.”

The entire detainment took about an hour, including 20 minutes to search the car, with Lauerman on his merry way, ironically, into a celebratory cannabis climate with equally happy and grateful Canadians.

Hard to say if the border guards spent the rest of the day humming farmer Tom’s tune. One thing is certain, at least a handful of Canadian’s finest can honestly say, they’ve met America’s trusted face of cannabis.

For more information on Farmer Tom Lauerman, visit www.farmertomorganics.com

For more information on Jingle Bar, visit www.jinglebar.com