Ever notice that if you say "Jesus" backwards it sounds like "Sausage?" Well if not, it means you've probably never gotten so goddamn high your fucking ears pop. I rarely smoke weed anymore, it simply doesn’t have the same effect on me that it used to back when I was a daily smoker. My usage is now limited to three scenarios: battling insomnia, Dub Club on the odd Wednesday night in Echo Park, and sex (a few years ago I made the groundbreaking discovery that I fuck like a golden god when I’m dusted). That being said, I’m making an exception and am currently halfway through a joint the size of an infant’s arm because I feel like I’d be doing my readers a colossal disservice if I penned this article sober. So let me hurry up and get my thoughts out before I fill a popcorn bowl full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with vanilla almond milk and take it to the face over a Bob Ross marathon.
I’ll just come right out and say it: I have a more grounded outlook on the current gravity of California’s marijuana situation than anyone under the age of 30 and over the age of 40. First, let’s address the grandmas and grandpas real quick. Yeah yeah yeah, the 1960s, I get it: long hair, free love, psychedelic rock and hairy bush...great, but get out of my life with that bullshit. That era was short-lived and the pot was dirt. In the 70s and 80s weed was the pussy younger brother of counterculture’s cooler drugs. Smoking cannabis wasn’t something anyone would boast about and potheads were stigmatized as morons, burnouts and losers. But then something came along that changed everything: early 90s hip hop. Dre hit us with The Chronic in ’92 and suddenly almost overnight being a stoner wasn’t so disparaging. You wore that shit like a badge of honor!
I just reread that last sentence out loud, super fast and riddled with dyslexia and it sounded like I wrote “That whore has a badger on her!” I digress, back to my skewed sense of entitlement....
The first time I purchased weed was the quintessential drug deal experience, reminiscent of something straight out of a John Hughes film. It was the summer of 1994: Beastie Boys dropped Ill Communication, Biggie dropped Ready To Die, and Nas dropped Illmatic (please pause, especially you millennials, and fully take in what I just said for a moment). I was 14 and dragged my father from the Valley all the way down to the Venice Boardwalk because I absolutely had to have a large leather necklace with a large leather medallion with a bright yellow leather silhouette of Africa in the center. Why, you ask, would a chubby Jew from Reseda need such a kitschy monstrosity-of-an-accessory swinging from his chubby little neck? Because I was a fashionably retarded lost soul desperately searching for validation under any rock I could find it... namely the hip hop community.
During that period, coinciding with the rise of hip hop, the Boardwalk had no shortage of African themed fashion being peddled. I bounced from booth to booth, examining one ridiculous necklace after another until I finally found the exact one I wanted. Fully prepared for a bargaining war, I inquired about the price. The vendor—a large Jamaican man who seemed to have been wearing one of each variation of his own products and basically looked like an exaggerated caricature of a Rastafarian Mr. T—said with a thick Jamaican accent “Fiteeeen.” I said “Five!” He said “Tin!” I said “Five!” He then took off his aviator sunglasses and leaned into me, asking “Butts? Butts?” I looked around to make sure he wasn’t maybe talking through me to some other being that actually understood what the fuck he was saying. I was so confused I just stood there with my mouth open, staring into his bloodshot eyes. He then sighed disappointingly, looked around, leaned into me even further and spoke softly “Buds, man. Do you want to buy some pot?” (WITHOUT THE FAKE FUCKING ACCENT!!!) In a split second it dawned on me that I had the opportunity right then and there in front of my unassuming father to buy drugs for the very first time in my life. “Yes, please,” I said under my breath. He put his glasses back on, reached into his fanny pack, pulled out a ball of tinfoil and placed it with the Africa necklace into a brown paper bag and handed it to me. Then with his accent back, he said “Fiteeeen.”
Do you understand how goddamn lucky I am to have had that experience? How much that brief awkward exchange taught me about life, and culture, and business, and fear, and bullshit?! Those experiences, like the Motorola pager, are a thing of the past since 2003 when California governor Gray Davis signed California Senate Bill 420 (colloquially known as the Medical Marijuana Program Act), establishing an identification card system for medical marijuana patients, which made way for the sprawling and lucrative wild west of pot dispensaries. Almost as plentiful as check cashing locations, the green cross logos appeared on almost every block in almost every neighborhood in California. Why expose yourself to shady dealings with fake Jamaicans in front of your father when you can buy from a dispensary that looks and operates like a high end sex toy boutique? There are comfortable chairs and cases displaying all things marijuana, edibles that can literally stun an elephant and tinctures and waxes and a wide variety of smokable plant strains, each one described in terms as careful and loving as those of an oenophile describing a Burgundy: Sour Diesel is an invigorating sativa-dominant strain named after its pungent, diesel-like aroma. This fast-acting strain delivers energizing, dreamy cerebral effects that have pushed Sour Diesel to its legendary status. Stress, pain, and depression fade away in long-lasting relief, it is believed to have descended from Chemdawg 91 and Super Skunk.
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m very maladapted to today’s pot culture. So you can come to your own conclusion, but I stand firm on my ridiculous statements earlier. When I was a stoner, weed transactions were a gateway into some kind of self-governed mini-underworld. It was exciting. Mildly dangerous, yet organized. We had structure and code. In many regards, buying and selling marijuana before the laws changed played a big role in teaching us about economics and commerce, about profit and loss, supply and demand; it even bore striking similarities to the stock market. So fuck yeah I have a grounded outlook on things. I remember what it meant like to see “420” come up on your pager. I’ve made pipes from foil, soda cans, and apples. I’ve held gravity bong sessions in my kitchen and taken knife hits until I puked. I knew every smoke-friendly cul-de-sac in the Valley. Every motherfucker I rolled with had a bottle of Visine in their glove box, and I’ve hotboxed more Honda Civics than a quarter mile drag race. SAUSAGE! I mean Jesus!
Sorry, I’m pretty fucking baked right now and sometimes that means I can go off on some colorful rants. Lemme take a three hour shower and get right back to this.