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420 Recs: Seth Ferranti, Drug Kingpin and Pot Prisoner Turned Media Maestro

The writer and filmmaker served 21 years in prison for a weed and LSD conspiracy charge.

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Seth Ferranti is one of the most interesting people I know. At age 22, he received a 25-year prison sentence on a weed and LSD conspiracy charge — after first faking his own death and landing himself on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted List. Seth ended up serving 21 years in various prisons, despite being a first-time, non-violent drug offender.

While incarcerated, Seth started his journalism career, penning countless stories about life inside “the belly of the beast” and offering an authentic lens into what prison is actually for people stuck behind bars. 

Seth and I got connected when I was an editor at VICE, and he was still living in a halfway house. We started collaborating on dozens of articles, and Seth often worked as a fixer/plug for getting reporters in touch with high-profile inmates or prisoners in solitary confinement. But the man himself is a true raconteur and workhorse journalist, with infinite ideas and unstoppable ambition that even a jail cell couldn’t dampen. 

I’ve had the privilege of being his editor on and off for more than seven years, and it’s been an inspiration to see him grow as a storyteller and branch out into other mediums like podcasting, graphic novels, and now documentaries. Most recently, he co-wrote and produced White Boy, a feature doc on Richard Wershe Jr. that aired on Starz and became a Netflix hit, and he has several upcoming film projects in the works, too. Check out the trailer to his new series Tangled Roots here.

Seth also writes about cannabis regularly, both the legacy market and legal landscape. As a victim of the War on Drugs, he has a unique perspective about witnessing the plant that landed him in jail become a billion dollar commodity.

In our Cash Only interview, the former outlaw discusses his relationship with weed as a free man, highlights the hypocrisy of corporate cannabis when over 40,000 people are still incarcerated for nonviolent drug crimes, and recommends some excellent pot farms from the Emerald Triangle. He also notes which prison facility had the most access to weed — a nod to a feature we worked on together called “The Dopest Dope I Ever Smoked in Prison.” Big ups to Seth, you’re a walking weed legend. 

Seth Ferranti on the US Marshals Most Wanted List

How would you describe your relationship with weed these days? Are you a regular consumer? A “pothead”? What’s your daily consumption like? 

Seth Ferranti: I’m a 24/7 stoner and sometimes that gets in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish, especially when I go straight to the dabs at 6AM in the morning. I love hash rosin and my Puffco is my best friend. So to combat my all-consuming love of marijuana, I take tolerance breaks. Usually 2-3 months at a time. So nowadays, I’m a part-time smoker. But when I do smoke… it’s on. I like to get stoned off my gourd for a month at a time and then eventually get back to the real world. That is just how I do it, especially with the rosins I smoke being 75-95% THC.

What’s your current favorite strain and how do you like to consume it? 

I don’t always smoke weed (as in lighting up a joint), but when I do, I smoke weed from Humboldt County in specific. Pretty much everything I consume, from rosin to flower, is from that part of the Emerald Triangle. Farms like Huckleberry Hill, RidgelineHogwashCanna Country, and Amaranth are my favorites. And when I’m on a dab run, I only fuck with Errl Hill and Heritage Hash Co. I like White Thorn Rose from Huckleberry Hill Farms, #26 from Canna Country, and Runtz from Ridgeline. These are all Emerald Cup winners. 

Do you have any favorite weed products right now — whether a particular edible, topical, or even paraphernalia?

Definitely White Thorn Rose Rosin from Heritage Hash Co, another Emerald Cup Winner that comes from flower grown by my boy John Casali at Huckleberry Hill Farms. But all of Errl Hill’s live resins and rosins are the bomb, too. And you can’t forget the Mandarin Skunk from my boy Josh at Earth Green Cali. He grows flower for the Jerome Baker Designs cannabis line. 

As someone who was once incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes, what do you think about the current legal weed landscape? Are former victims of the War on Drugs given enough chances to break into the industry? What needs to change about the current weed landscape?

I think it’s a sham right now. Fuck corporate weed. I had a financial backer in Missouri when the medical marijuana scene jumped off there, but I couldn’t get a license because of my felony charge. Everyone is talking about social equity, but nothing is really happening. It’s just lip service. I don’t think any ex-law enforcement or politicians who persecuted people for weed should be in the industry until all the pot prisoners are out. How are people making millions of dollars in the “legal” cannabis industry while there are still over 40,000 non-violent pot offenders locked up in this country? Fucking insane. 

Plus, the way they are freezing out the famers in the Emerald Triangle is twisted. That is what my Tangled Roots docu-series is about. Here, you have the people who championed this plant since day one — the legacy farmers, the real outlaws, people who risked prison and forfeiture and even death at the hands of DEA jack-booted thugs with helicopters buzzing all around their communities like they were in a war zone — and they can’t even get a leg up in the industry because these big corporate entities are throwing up these huge greenhouses and growing autoflowers with salts and chemicals. Again, it’s fucking insane. 

Why would you smoke that garbage when you can smoke some good organic sun-grown full entourage effect bud with terpenes out the ass? Consumers need to start demanding that the right products be placed on the shelves of their dispensaries and get that garbage boof weed out of there. Because the people growing that stuff don’t give a fuck about nothing but money. 

A photo of Seth Ferranti while he was incarcerated

We did a great article together once called “The Dopest Dope I Ever Smoked in Prison.” Out of all the prisons you stayed in, which one had the most weed smokers? Or the most reliable access to bud (even if the bud was bad)? 

All the prisons had a ton of weed smokers, but probably Fort Dix in New Jersey because it was big, had 3,000 prisoners, and there was a lot of access to the outside world. So a ton of weed was coming in. And yeah, that article was badass.

What activity do you like to do after you’ve gotten really stoned?

I like to Netflix and chill with my girl. Or go on a Reels spiral on Instagram, especially after I dab. But I also like nature, riding bikes, going on the water, being in the mountains, camping — really any activity outdoors. I think cannabis and nature just go together. Concerts are great, too, especially outdoor festivals. I love to smoke weed at concerts, and it seems like the thing to do these days. But nothing will ever beat being stoned in the mountains of Humboldt. 

Can you recommend something to watch while high?

Up In Smoke, the first Cheech and Chong movie, but also Monty Python and Benny Hill. That shit will have you in tears. And anything by Terry Gilliam. I love that dry humor. That shit cracks me up. 

Can you recommend something to listen to while smoking?

I love to listen to Cypress Hill, but BASEHEAD, Camo Cowboys, and Rod Deal & the I-Deals are awesome, too. And can’t forget my guys DeeJay Theory, Eli Fowler, and Just One. 

Can you recommend something to read once stoned? 

You have to read The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer, the classic book on why cannabis was vilified in the first place. Anything by Hunter S. Thompson, and Primo Plant by Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Garcia. 

Who’s in your dream blunt rotation?

Snoop Dogg, B-Real, Woody Harrelson, and Willie Nelson — plus, Cheech and Chong. 

Watch the “Tangled Roots” Trailer here

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