Confessions of a Philly Pot Dealer

A Philadelphia pusher takes a look at what a legalized future could mean for his business — and for you.

This bud’s for you, says the dealer, shown here. Photo courtesy of Nick Centore

This bud’s for you, says the dealer, shown here. Photo courtesy of Nick Centore

When everything is legalized — here and everywhere else — guys like me will be done. I serve a purpose because the laws are backwards. I started selling in college. A friend of mine was getting four ounces at a time, and I would sell an ounce and keep what I made in profit. You make more money by selling it in smaller quantities, but you also take on more risk, just because you’re dealing with more people. Now, I’m a professional — I’m a publicist — and I don’t sell directly to customers. But I’m happy to go out of business. I want to be able to buy weed legally and enjoy it legally.

The people who move pounds and have made a career out of this, those who don’t go legit and open stores — they won’t go out of business immediately. When I went to California — back when you needed a medical card — we still went to dealers.

I’m already winding down. I supply some of my co-workers. People in their 40s, they don’t want to be on the street buying drugs, so they call me. I have a couple in the suburbs that calls me once a month for an ounce or half-ounce. They don’t want to associate with “people who sell weed.” So because I keep it casual, they go through me. As I’m slowing down, I’ve become what I call a “finder.” I don’t hold large quantities, but when that couple from the suburbs needs their weed, I’ll just go pick it up for them. It’s cleaner. I could tell them, “Go to my friend. It’s cheaper.” But they’ll just say, “No, we’ll go to you, it’s okay if it’s more expensive.” Like everything else, it’s all about your reputation.

I think one of the biggest trends will be the development of less-strong strains that are more friendly to the person who doesn’t smoke pot every day, who goes to Whole Foods and jogs and lives an active life. There needs to be weed for those people. Not everyone wants to get so high all the time. Back when I started smoking, it was terrible dirt weed, bunk farm weed. We call that the “mids,” the stuff with seeds. These days, the marijuana in Philadelphia is insanely potent, quality stuff. I couldn’t even find mids if I had to. We’ve perfected making strong weed. Now we need less-strong weed that is also good, and I think that is going to be a natural effect of legalization. Different strains for different types of people — different tokes for different folks.

Pretty soon, everybody is going to be smoking. Maybe not everybody, but a lot of the country. People will realize that marijuana is harmless except for the people who take it too far, and those people will take anything too far. I was smoking pot every day in college, and it helped keep me focused. I graduated with a 3.8 in four years, with a double major. I didn’t allow it to hinder my motivation. It leveled me out. If I was going out drinking every day like a lot of people, I couldn’t say the same thing.

The future of the legal marijuana industry is in edibles, all forms of edibles. Most of the people I know swear by them, but I don’t like them. It gives you such a strong body high, you are rendered useless. That said, it makes pot less scary to people who don’t do it very often.

Smart businesspeople will realize it’s all about advertising and packaging. The market is going to be flooded as soon as legalization comes. Who stands out the most? The person who has the best package or the funniest name for a strain, or who makes the most delicious edibles; the person who makes the body oils and lotions that not only get you stoned but make your hair and skin smell good. We’re going beyond the point of who makes the strongest strain. It’s designer weed — weed that fits the buyer’s personality. La Colombe will have an awesome weed product.

As told to Victor Fiorillo. Originally published as “Confessions of a Pot Dealer” in the December 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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