What Becomes of “Your Guy” Now that Weed Is Legal?

What Becomes of “Your Guy” Now that Weed Is Legal?

Amazon ate small businesses. Uber ate cabbies. Will “pot shops” eat your local independent pot dealer?

I sat down with a local dealer to get a very effected perspective on a small business that is possibly on its way out the door. Although certainly very interesting, I decided not to ask the private details about how this person gets their weed, because then they would have to kill me. (It’s a joke Millennials)

What is your preferred word for weed?
I’m pretty ecumenical, so pot, weed, marijuana, reefer, always liked reefer, gauge that’s a Thirties one. There is a jazz blues tune called Jack I’m Mellow, which has a line, ‘Just smoked some gauge, I’m on a rampage. Jack I’m mellow.’"

How long have you been selling marijuana?
About forty years.”

Forty years? That is really good. Why did you start selling?
I like smoking it and it was a way for me to get it cheaper.”

Was it easy or hard to get your business off the ground?
Pretty easy, because I knew people that smoked, and if I could get a bunch [of weed] at a cheaper price and then sell it to them, its pretty basic economics. I sell for a competitive price and then I smoke for free.

Would you call yourself a small business?
“Sure, I guess, you know. I don’t know how you would classify it. It’s a small black market retail operation!”

Do you have any horror stories about selling weed or has it been a smooth ride?
“It’s been a pretty smooth ride in terms of I’ve always been very careful to only sell and only do business with people who seem sane, who weren’t doing hard drugs. It’s a pretty sanity-inducing product, unlike hard drugs like coke and heroin, which make people, go crazy and bring out their worst selves. So I’ve been pretty lucky that way. I guess the worst thing that has happened to me is I’ve been stiffed for a lot of money by a few people.”

Are you up on the legal status of weed in Massachusetts right now?
“I probably know a fair amount about it.”

{In November of 2012, 63 percent of voters endorsed Question 3, making Massachusetts the 18th state in the country to allow medical marijuana use.}
{In November of 2016, Massachusetts voters passed Question 4, officially legalizing recreational marijuana for individuals 21 years of age or older. The law went into effect on December 15, 2016, however, the commercial market is not yet up and running.}


{Regulators had targeted July 1 as the beginning of legal retail sales, but so far the regulators have only approved one provisional license: for a cultivation facility in Milford. Chairman Steven Hoffman said Tuesday that the commission will not consider additional licenses until July 2.}


Did you vote on those propositions?
“I voted for both.”

Now how do you feel about it being legal?
“You know it’s the right thing, so I would have been hypocritical to have voted against it. Of course its going to change my business, but from what I have gathered anecdotally in reading journalism on it, there’s still black markets in states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon and I’m kind of figuring there will still be a black market here. It might change the pricing a little bit.”

What have your customers been telling you?
“Well, I have a pretty loyal customer base. I have a feeling a lot of them will stick with me. Of course I am going to carefully watch the prices in the stores and make sure that it makes sense economically for the customers to stick with me. If I can get them equally good product for less money than… you know.”

You probably could because of the sales tax.

{An Act to ensure safe access to marijuana
This law outlines the ability of cities and towns to exercise local control to ban or limit the development of marijuana establishments, sets the special excise tax on adult use marijuana sales to 10.75%, and includes a local option for cities and towns to add a 3% tax on top of the combined 17% between sales and the marijuana specific excise tax.}


Will you need the medical marijuana card to purchase from stores?
“No it is just walk-in.”

Wow. Could you have imagined when we were kids that weed and gay marriage would be legal?
“Thirty, forty years ago someone said weed will be legal by the time your sixty years old or fifty, whatever, I think I might have believed that, but gay marriage surprised me that it happened so fast. But in a way it makes even more sense, because 10% or whatever of the population is gay or has a family member that is, or they know someone who is gay.”

{Using Gallup data taken from interviews with over 1.6 million adults, demographer Gary J. Gates reported that 10 million Americans—4 percent of the population—now identify as LGBT.}


The same could be said for pot, I mean what percentage of Americans smoke weed?

{More than half of American adults — or 52 percent — have smoked pot, according to a new Marist Poll that was conducted in partnership with Yahoo! News.}
{While 8 in 10 Americans strongly support legalizing medical marijuana, 49 percent of American adults support legalization of recreational marijuana and 47 percent still oppose it.}


{The survey, summarized by Gallup’s Justin McCarthy, found that 13% of adults in the U.S. report currently using marijuana, compared with 7% reported in 2013.}


So as a small business you now have competition. What are you going to do, Red Tag sales?
“Well, its still federally illegal and its still, I won’t say taboo in some circles, but people are still not totally accepting of it. I have customers who are professionals of different kinds: doctors, lawyers, teachers, who would rather keep it under wraps.”

Not be seen walking into a pot store?

What do you think about the corporatization of weed? It is such a weird notion.
“Yes, especially since it is associated with the counter-culture, free-thinking, and mind expansion…”

Do you plan on going into any of the stores and checking things out?
“Yeah, I definitely will take a look. I’ve been in stores in Colorado.”

Were you surprised that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey was against the legalization of pot?
“I think law enforcement people are more acutely aware of the difficulties of this haphazard legalization system that we have.”

It’s a hell of a workload for them.
“From hearing her talk, and other law enforcement people talk I think most of them know that it’s certainly no worse than alcohol for the population, but they just don’t want to deal with another complicated mess at this point.”

Do you feel safer as an independent seller now that weed is legal?
“Yeah, I’ve always been careful, but sure. If it had made me too nervous all along, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. But yes, it does feel less risky.”

{BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts’ new federal prosecutor said on Wednesday he will not rule out prosecuting marijuana businesses in a state that has legalized the drug, but stressed that his focus is on the opioid epidemic. But he would not rule out investigating banks that open accounts for marijuana businesses.}

Do you have any last words of wisdom?
“Don’t bogart that joint.”

189 of Bay State Municipalities out of 351 have banned retail marijuana stores.

{Americans are more likely to try illegal drugs than anyone else in the world, according to global survey data from the World Health Organization.}

Will you stick with “your guy?” An unscientific poll of pot smokers:
“I have loyalty to my guy, but it depends on price.” Millennial
“I’m sticking with my guy; he has been an extremely efficient retailer.” Gen X
“No loyalty to my guy, but he is my friend. The shops have specialty items such as oils and edibles, so that is easier.” Millennial
“I will do a combination. It will be fun to check out the dispensaries for different products. I will stick with my source for the weed.” Gen X
“I’m definitely sticking with my supplier. I’ve used him for years & he has always been a reliable & accommodating. I’m old school. I’m also resistant to white owned businesses coming in & taking over.” Gen X