Super Senior: Jim Coutts
CENTRAL VERMONT (WCAX) - High up a hill in Central Vermont, Jim Coutts and his grandson Austin Underwood are right in the middle of a budding business.
The duo started Montwood Hollow. They’re growing cannabis or, by its more common name, marijuana. It’s an operation that only a year ago would have been illegal.
“I think my father would be rolling over in his grave if he knew I was doing it,” Jim said.
Licensed by the state, they have 125 plants on what is called a tier one operation, the smallest possible.
They asked me not to disclose where their operation is located.
“It’s a lot to learn,” Jim said. “It’s not as easy as planting a few flowers and hope they’re going to bloom and you’re going to get a good yield.”
Jim’s well aware some of his friends will be surprised that he’s a director of a cannabis operation.
Jim Coutts: They’re never going to believe this!
Reporter Joe Carroll: In case you’re wondering if he uses it for recreational purposes...
Jim Coutts: Nope.
Joe Carroll: He’s got an answer.
Jim Coutts: Never even tried it. My grandson has offered it to me in years past, but no, I don’t believe in smoking.
But Jim does consume cannabis. The reason is sobering. Last year, the 81-year-old was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Jim dries, crushes and then boils the flower.
“I’ve been using it as tea,” he said. “I don’t use the THC part for the hallucinogenic, I just use the straight tea.”
He says it helps keep the nausea down while he’s been going through chemotherapy.
“The teas allow me to eat better, to be more active, to have more energy, which I didn’t have,” he said.
Jim says the chemo is keeping the cancer “at bay.”
Joe Carroll: Are you proud of your grandfather?
Austin Underwood: Oh, immensely.
Joe Carroll: How do you know so much about this?
Jim Coutts: Read. Learn from him, attended seminars.
Joe Carroll: So when you go to a seminar, you kind of stand out?
Jim Coutts: A little bit! A little bit, there aren’t too many even close to my age, I don’t think.
Theresa, Jim’s wife of 61 years, has reluctantly accepted the new family venture. Austin is all in selling the potent pot for recreational use.
Joe Carroll: There is still a stigma, though, with growing it.
Jim Coutts: There is. I don’t tell a lot of people where we’re at or what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
Jim’s far from an aging hippie. With a master’s degree in business administration, he was once a regional rep for the AARP and an even Elk of the Year from a local chapter.
“The older generation definitely has the larger stigma still, so grandpa is definitely against the grain in a lot of ways,” Austin said.
A family finding a new way to work the land in a changing Vermont.
“These are actually coming good, too,” Jim said of his plants.
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