Article by Mark Miller, Huffington Post
If you grow or consume marijuana, you’ve benefited from something Big Mike has done.
Since 1983, Michael “Big Mike” Straumieitis has worked tirelessly to find new ways to bring marijuana to its true genetic potential—legally and illegally. He’s overseen the cultivation of over a million pot plants, been the target of a federal manhunt by the DEA and U.S. Marshals, lived on the lam for almost a decade under seven different identities, and brought over 50 firsts to the world of marijuana growing. In 1996, Big Mike took $25,000 he’d made from a small illegal grow in Temecula, California, snuck into Canada with a fake passport and built a growing and trafficking organization 200 people strong. He then used his growing and business expertise to start his company, Advanced Nutrients. Today, Advanced Nutrients is the maker of the #1 selling cannabis-specific nutrient line in the world, with $90 million a year in sales from 93 countries.
When he’s not figuring out ways to grow bigger and better buds, throwing parties at his world famous marijuana mansion, or running Advanced Nutrients, Big Mike dabbles in creating social change. His charity Holiday Heroes feeds over 26 thousand people in need, each Easter and Christmas. Mike created the political party, Nova Bulgaria, in order to create real change in the corrupt government of Bulgaria. Advanced Nutrients donated over a million dollars’ worth of nutrients to assist sick and dying patients, built a classroom in Uganda, and constructed a grow room for CannaMoms, to allow children who suffer from conditions such as epilepsy and cancer access to the medicine they need. Advanced Nutrients also lends seed money to individuals in developing countries who dream of starting a small business, but lack the means to do so, donate heavily to the Marijuana Policy Project, and are spearheading MMJ Bulgaria, which advocates for medical marijuana legalization in Bulgaria.
Mike, you are the CEO of Advanced Nutrients, an international marketer and manufacturer of agricultural, home & garden, hydroponics plant nutrients and soil less fertilizers. That doesn’t sound like a career you probably dreamed of when you were a kid. What did you want back then and how did you get to this point?
I wanted to be what every kid wanted to be: a fireman, policeman, garbage man, or maybe even an astronaut! I always loved science. It’s always fascinated me and I’ve always had an attraction to it. I love helping people. I thought I’d probably end up being a doctor or a scientist. But I ended up helping others in my own way.
I grew up as a country kid in Illinois. I worked on farms, so I was always around nature and plants, and when I was 19 years old, I started a lawn care company, so I was involved with plants. One day, my friends showed me their grow room and wanted to partner up with me to grow cannabis and I said “yes.” It seemed like a pretty easy thing to do.
What are some of the mistakes growers make?
They really don’t understand the nature of their business and who they’re dealing with because it was a black market environment. They think it’s easy – growing cannabis- but it’s not. That learning curve is steep. And they don’t know if someone is giving them bad advice, so they’re susceptible to making bad investments and bad decisions. Most people are being oversold a package of dreams right now.