It starts with one puff. BRUCE PERLOWIN can see it. His mind expanding. Enlightenment. It’s clear. He wants to share this feeling with the world.
It’s the late 60’s. Nixon is sworn in, America opens its eyes to the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy have been assassinated, and Apollo 6 circles the moon. The world is changing and Bruce believes he’s found the key to enlightening the minds of everyone and with it bring world peace. It’s marijuana. It may sound like the rantings of a stoned twenty-year-old -- it kind of was -- but this eccentric baby-faced genius was about to make history.
As Bruce fantasizes of escaping his father’s boring furniture business to go to India for ten years to work on his enlightenment, Bruce’s friend desperately asks him to help him dispose of a bale of weed. This is it. His opportunity to start his marijuana rebellion. Backed by his hot-headed, hippie bashing, brother, CRAIG, and his all too eager band of childhood friends, Bruce becomes the life of college parties throughout Florida. Spreading his marijuana gospel everywhere he goes. Bruce isn’t afraid of the DEA -- being too clever for his own good -- but gaining the disapproval of his strait-laced Jewish father.
Bruce gains a huge following of believers in his mission, including the devilish wild-child DIANE and a dangerous ring of smuggling brothers who want to use his potential. Unaware of the danger, Bruce partners with the ring and finds himself thrust into the profitable but dark side of smuggling. Drugs, violence, and hit jobs from within the ring over souring deals, Bruce is feeling the world closing in on him. What’s more, Bruce involved his father’s business into the operation by secretly laundering money out of the new branches he built. Fearing for the lives of his crew and growing family, Bruce needs an escape plan. He needs a place away from Cocaine Cowboys, warring brothers and unceasing violence to realize his dream marijuana enterprise.
Assuming the fake identity of a novelist, Bruce hires a research firm to get information on where the fewest drug busts happen in the U.S. Hello, San Francisco. Meet Bruce Perlowin.
With a warrant out for his arrest, it’s his one shot to go. Scrambling to sell off his assets before they’re seized, Bruce must finally come clean to his father. Bruce tells his father of his dream and how he’ll give him everything back plus more, but his father wants nothing more to do with him. Though things haven’t been great with Diane, he knows that she’ll come with him, but she tells him she’s done. She’s met someone else who can offer her the stable life she wants for her and their son.
Starting from scratch Bruce and his team get to work building the new business - using the latest technology, forming an intelligence force that rivals the Pentagon, hiring a fleet of out of work fishermen to smuggle the marijuana in, and a deal with the fierce Colombian cartel. It’s ambitiously ridiculous, but he manages to do it and all without guns. Bruce also begins rebuilding his personal life when he meets the gentle yet passionate BECKY who not only believes in his dream but believes in him.
Millions of dollars begins sailing right under the Golden Gate Bridge. He’s using the criminal system to spread enlightenment, restore the livelihoods of a fishing community, and bring prosperity to whole villages in Columbia. It feels good and he starts to wonder how far he can push it.
Bruce’s spiritualism begins to bend to the pressure, his relationships, and the thirst for power. As Bruce’s wealth begins to know no bounds, the line between good and evil begin to blur. He goes too far, using his smuggling operation to kidnap his son in Florida.
With his father, two marriages and two chances to be a father lost, Bruce is forced to come face-to-face with the losses he’s stacked up. His humble disciple identity has become a full-blown messiah complex, further enhanced by a growing Percodan addiction used to help him cope. He has to get out. Somewhere he can focus on his own enlightenment once again. Being buried alive by his own creation, Bruce accidentally leaves his notebook detailing his operation at a Denny’s restaurant.
Armed with Bruce’s notebook -- subconsciously left behind or not -- Bruce is taken down. Unwilling to give up anyone in his operation, Bruce gets 15 years in prison. When the Columbian cartel ask if he wants them to break him out, he tells them no. He is at peace. It may not be India but he got his time and isolation to work on himself and plan his return. He wants to do it all again, but this time legally.
The organization got too big. That was one of my primary mistakes. You don't run the organization. The organization runs you. I guess I couldn't say no to myself. I was addicted to the lifestyle. Addicted to the stress. Addicted to the greed.
A counterculture hero following his arrest, Bruce’s notoriety increased again just prior to his release from prison when he published his resume in newspapers nationwide under the headline: “Ex-Marijuana Kingpin Needs a Job.” As a result, Bruce was overwhelmed with job offers. In the end, he decided to continue on an entrepreneurial path in sales and marketing.
Bruce now is doing what he loves -- legally -- running a sustainable hemp business called Hemp, Inc. He's still fighting the fight for marijuana and it's potential to change the world, this time setting his sights on a new problem -- building sustainably.