In the last minutes of the last day of his presidency, President Clinton signed his last presidential pardon – a slot usually given to the most controversial case. This particular pardon was the communion of a life sentence for a felon who had served time in a state prison before being given the sentence of a lifetime in prison. For a non-violent offence. No one was murdered. No one was even hurt. Nothing has been stolen (except from the prisoner, by one of the witnesses at his federal trial).

The name was Donald Clark, or Donnie to everyone who knew him, and his crime was the breeding and selling of the best marijuana the west coast of Florida had ever seen.

A legend is cultivated

Growing his marijuana in the swamps off the Myakka river, he utilized his talents as agri-businessman and master farmer and sold the product so many people in Manatee and surrounding counties knew as, “Myakky Whacky” which he packaged with love: no seeds, leaves or stems. But when he was caught, first by the state and later by the feds, they gave it a different name that Donnie took on with pride; “Myakka Gold”

The legend took on a new chapter when, in 1989, one of Donnie’s vacuum sealed pounds of product that was still being circulated, even though he had already stopped growing it, after serving a state sentence and had gone back to farming everything from sod to cabbage and watermelons. That was the year that a young woman from Delaware with ALS named Cathy Jordan came to visit a friend at Manatee Beach. She planned to save up her muscle relaxant pills in the warm Florida weather so that she could overdose with them when she got home, only to discover that smoking Myakka Gold stopped the course of her disease and made her want to live again.

An unexpected visit with unexpected results

Donnie recalled in his book, “The Donnie Clark Myakka Gold” that day in 1990 that his friend manatee County Sheriff’s department Lieutenant Johnny Potts served him the subpoena to come to the federal court in Tampa. “Because of a new law they passed in 1987, they can give to 25 years to life!” Johnny told him. Donnie laughed and replied, “Johnny, I could shoot you dead and not that much time.”

Johnny didn’t get shot, but Donnie was sentenced to life after refusing to plead guilty, in a trial where they used evidence from the state trial where he already served his time and one witness even admitted to stealing from Donnie.

Legacy Lost?

Segue to 2018, and Donnie has been robbed again, but this time, it is his legacy, the thing for which he almost spent the rest of his life in prison.

Surterra, one of the few Florida operating vertically-integrated Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers(MMTCs), recently released the first product its new line of products,” Florida’s Finest”, showcasing the legendary strains of Florida. It’s first offering, a rechargeable oil vape pen called “Myakka Gold”. There just a slight problem to that. It’s not Myakka Gold.

“They never talked to me. They never even called me.,” Donnie said. The Feds destroyed every bit of what he had, down to the seeds. “Besides, I saw that description on the internet. First thing that hit me was that they say it’s an indica(hybrid). It was not damn indica! It was straight sativa!” And as far as the terpene profile, that mixture of organic chemicals that give the plant its unique taste, smell and effect? According to Surterra, their Myakka Gold has a, “unique terpene profile of low Myrcene, and high limonene gives it characteristics of Sativa. It also has a high percentage of Caryophylene thanks to its Indica parents. This Florida Original has a complex pine and berry aroma”. According to Donnie, “Nah”.

That’s an interesting description from a company that recently stated that there is no such thing as an indica or sativa effect.

However, reviews from patients paying the $60 for the 420 mg cartridge say that they enjoy the product, have felt its health benefits, and would buy it again.

Surterra stands to make a nice profit from their new product and nicely marketed line. But Donnie Clark, who went to the federal prison as the “ring leader” of the infamous Myakka Gold Gang to serve a life sentence for the crime of inventing and growing it, isn’t making a dime, and his legacy is being stolen.

It’s all in the Book…

In 2010, Donnie sat down with his girlfriend and wrote down his memoirs to put into a book he called, “The Donnie Clark Myakka Gold” Originally, it was over 740 pages, but the publisher told his girlfriend they had to narrow it down to 350, so they did, and it was published in 2012, and can be found on Amazon at . It’s a very enjoyable ready and I highly suggest it.

When he went to prison, the feds took his 600-acre Myakka farm and when he came home, they didn’t give it back. At 77, his book sales are one of his few sources of income, and Surterra’s move hasn’t made him money, but it has made him mad.

The book has a copyright, but he never trademarked the strain he created, since it was illegal when he cultivated it.

Donnie’s not sure what he wants to do about it. He thought the book title protected his intellectual property, but he admitted that he was a farmer, not a lawyer. He’s mockingly considering robbing a bank so that he can go back to prison to spend his sunset years. “They treat the old folks well there. Bring them food and things. Better than a nursing home,” he grinned.

Donnie is now good friends with Cathy Jordan, who became the forefront of the medical cannabis legalization movement in Florida and whose life his living creation saved, as well as her activist and veteran husband Bob. Donnie occasionally goes to various cannabis rallies and events with them to promote legalization.

Buy a book.  If you see him at one of those events, I’m sure he’ll sign it. After all, he was the ring leader of the infamous Myakka Gold Gang. (Absolutely no relation to the Surterra product)