Even before I tried it, I knew I’d like pot.
Somebody told me about it when I was 13 or 14. Then I got some. It didn’t disappoint. I had a purpose in life – to be high as much of the time as I can.
Even though I had no money to buy my own, it wrecked my high school career. Instead of working snot good grades so I could get into a good school, my life was about acquiring and consuming pot. Fortunately, I hung out with friends who were inexplicably flush all the time. I made it through high school having bought maybe an ounce or two of my own.
In the fall of 1976 I moved to NYC. I met a guy in my building, Bernie, who not only had put but sold it. He was generous and I was like a chimney.
In the fall of 1979 i was enrolled in a big University. Bernie said to me, why don’t you sell pot at school. To me that sounded like a great idea.
Here were the economics of it: a pound ran about $400. I’d get about we 15 oz per piece accounting for seeds, stems, shake etc. At $40 an ounce I would break even at 10 ounces. Put an ounce aside for the dealer’s (me) stash and those last four ounces were profit. $160 in this case.
I was in hog heaven. I had all the pot I’d ever want to smoke PLUS I had enough put to be the guy who could provide for others. And, it was contributing to the rent which did not suck.
I started selling to the kids at school. One by one they’d trickle over to buy some weed and smoke with the dealer. I must confess, I loved being the guy who had pot.
I don’t remember where the other customers were coming from but it seems there was always people at my apartment. It never got out of hand. I seem to sell just enough to keep me and my friends high and supplement the rent.
Sometimes I had to venture outside of my comfort zone. One night I couldn’t find a local supplier and had to go out to Bay Ridge to buy a pound. Because I was too cheap to spring for $10 in car service or maybe $20 in cabfare I decided to take the subway home. Me, a pound of pot on the RR train at 4 am. In 1978. I made it home safely. Lucky or stupid? You decide.
At this point in my life, I felt like a veteran potsmoker. I knew how to behave, I know how to rein in my worst impulses, I was aware of my surroundings. The same couldn’t be said for the majority of customers. They were mostly amateurs. They were embarrassing. And, thanks to pot’s time distortion properties, they rarely knew when to leave.
At school, most of my classmates were customers. It became harder and harder to take them seriously. It was almost like I had seen them all misbehave at the office Christmas party. I mean, if you take a hit off a bong, fall over, hit your head on the radiator and laugh hysterically for ten minutes, I might look at you differently.
It was one thing when my classmates were clogging up my studio apartment, but then the professors started coming. And it’s hard to respect captains of higher learning who are buying nickel bags. Dudes, go in on an ounce. Half an ounce. And, on top of that, they behaved like the worst amateurs. And they didn’t even intimate that this would help my grade.
The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was when the dean of the school came over. Not only was he only buying a dime bag ($10) but – how can I say this – he acted like a kid getting high for the third time.. Yes, sparky, being high IS really fun. That’s why we’re doing this whole thing. I think when you’re shelling out the kind of money that my dad was paying for me to go to school that it’s important to have some respect for the institution.
In the end, none of this had anything to do with why I quit dealing. The fact was my life was going pretty well and the only thing I could think of that would ruin that was going to prison. New York City was pretty chill about pot but there were some tough laws on the books, particularly for dealing. It became a risk I was less and less willing to take.
I quit school soon after I quit dealing. This was in, I think, my third semester at school. Only part of the reason I left was my new-found non-respect for everyone running it. I was restless and New York City was a great playground. I wanted to be an actor and I spent my days chasing the dream by going from audition to audition.
I also quit smoking pot. Not for any moral or social reasons but simply because it made me paranoid. I was really upset about this. Pot had been such a good friend to me, a way to open up socially, a way to appreciate things, and now it had turned on me. I tried again. And again. No luck.
Every few years, I would try again. Usually because someone didn’t believe me. Within a few minutes I was curled up in a ball on the bed sure that the cops had the place surrounded. Another believer
Meanwhile, I had my nights free. On a lark, I pursued a career in stand-up comedy. To shorthand it, that went well and that was my profession for at least the next 15 years.
Everyone says pot is different today then when I was younger. It won’t make you paranoid and it’s 4,000 times stronger and costs about a billion times more than I used to sell it for. Maybe I’ll give it a try someday but I know i’ll behave like an amateur.