High Times on the Main Line

And in Chestnut Hill. And Blue Bell. And many more of Philadelphia’s most buttoned-down places. How a generation of otherwise straitlaced moms and dads are rediscovering their inner stoners … and making pot legit

And it’s not such a stretch to imagine marijuana someday being purveyed at the amazing new Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting. There could be self-serve bins labeled by growing region (“Lush, citrus-y overtones; from Colombia’s Guajira Peninsula, an ideal terroir due to hot sunny days and cool nights. … ”) and a smoke-on-site facility similar to the store’s charming PLCB wine boîte. Sure, it would remove the excitement of illegality, but Amanda, for one, says she’s smoking pot less to be a rebel than to relax. “I’ve always had a guilty conscience, which is why I waited until I was 39 years old before I tried it!” she laughs. “But I could never smoke it all the time. It saps all motivation.”

So true. And while pot-smokers in general are a pleasant group — seemingly stress-free, mellow, and able to enjoy 3-D showings of Avatar to the fullest — for those of us who don’t smoke, stoner adults can quickly become more annoying than our stoner buddies who bong-hit their way through college. One friend forbade her 42-year-old (prep-school-educated, wealthy) boyfriend to continue his daily marijuana smoking, because living with a bred-in-Bryn-Mawr guy who emulated the lifestyle of Willie Nelson crossed with Peter Tosh began to shred her nerves. “I already have enough kids,” she told me.

NOT FAR FROM Chestnut Hill is an adorable neighborhood of townhouses where Doug’s longtime dealer, Ursula, lives. Labradoodles are being walked, SUVs and BMWs are parked in driveways, planters are filled with buoyant yellow pansies. It’s hard to imagine this charming place as a drug den, but indeed, Doug says, Ursula has a coterie of regular Friday-afternoon customers whom she text-messages when her shipment arrives.

“It’s like clockwork,” says a source who has occasionally bought pot from the young mom. In Weeds-like fashion, Ursula vends her wares to neighborhood moms who walk over while their kids are at school — and the demand is enough that she’s usually sold out by suppertime.

“She has the most incredible pot ever,” Doug tells me, but then adds that Ursula’s life as a dealer isn’t as easy or cozy as it seems. She once was involved in a deal that went wrong and ended up losing nearly $100,000. She has a toddler now, and is trying to find non-drug-related work. In short, she’d like to get out of her business, but it’s so easy and lucrative that she hasn’t been able to. All of this sounds more depressing than glamorous, which always seems to be the case when you dig deeper into any illegal-drug scenario.

Maybe when pot is finally legalized, which is beginning to seem inevitable, it will actually become harder to get in the suburbs of Philly. It happened with booze at the end of Prohibition, and it would be a fitting Reefer Madness irony: The best way to dampen a generation’s appetite for weed might be to make it completely respectable.    

*Names and some identifying characteristics have been changed throughout.