Big Bernie drove into a big parking lot behind a large, gray office complex where the weed store was and put his car in park. Tom Petty was singing “you never slow down, you never grow old” on the radio. Bernie got out of the car and leaned up against it to listen to the chorus through the open window. It was a hot day, no rain for once. As he closed his eyes to absorb the song, Bernie thought back to a time when he was trying to buy pot in a small college town in Indiana in the 90’s, back when smoking a little weed to pass the time meant you were a criminal.
The social climate had been a little different out there than it was here in the Pacific Northwest in 2016. Cannabis use was looked down on in general by most citizens. Possession of small amounts could get you a hefty fine, as well as probation or mandated substance abuse treatment. The sale of cannabis could get you time in prison.
Bernie had been about 18 or 19, and was staying in an unfamiliar town with a friend. The girl they were visiting was in classes during the day, and Bernie and Dustin wanted a little bit of smoke to kill the boredom while they watched her TV. She had given them the pager number of a guy she thought might be able to sell them an eighth of weed. Bernie and Dustin paged the guy (Jason), and he had called them back shortly. After speaking in code and giving their credentials (the mutual friend who had provided his pager number), they had been told to meet him at the Dairy Mart on State street in 20 minutes.
Bernie and Dustin showed up early, and when Jason arrived and parked on the other side, he looked around the parking lot, identified them, and began walking toward them. He was close to their age, white, baseball cap turned backwards, frat bro-style clothing. He approached the car and Bernie and Dustin got out, trying to look casual.
Jason looked at them without out smiling. “What’s up, guys.”
“Not too much, how about you? Jason, right?” Dustin was a naturally friendly guy.
Jason did not answer, he simply looked at them with a flat face.
After a couple beats of silence, Bernie asked, “….uh..so…where do you want to do this? In the car, or…?”
“First things first. Are you a cop?” Jason directed his blank face toward Bernie.
According to drug-buying culture at the time, if someone you were conducting an illegal transaction with asked you point-blank if you’re a cop, then if you actually happened to be an undercover cop, you’d have to tell them, otherwise it’s Entrapment, or some shit like that. It was basically an urban legend with little to no truth, but kids believed it just the same.
Jason looked at him expectantly.
“No, I’m not a cop.” Bernie said in a monotone voice.
Jason turned and looked at Dustin.
“Are you a cop?” He asked him as well.
Dustin chose the wrong time to be a comedian.
“Yeah, I’m a cop!” He said, with a goofy, ironic smile on his face. Dustin was about 5’ 6” with the athletic build of a 12-year-old.
Jason looked at Dustin blankly, then he looked through him.
Jason said, “fuck this” to himself quietly, then turned around and walked briskly back to his car.
Bernie looked at his friend, “Dustin…..what the hell, dude?”
“Hey, man, I was kidding!” Dustin called after the guy. “Come on, man! I mean…look at me!” He gestured toward his scrawny frame.
Jason did not turn around. He opened the driver’s side door of his Taurus, turned the ignition, and drove quickly out of the parking lot.
Watching Jason’s car drive down State street, Bernie and Dustin stood next to their car without any weed.
The song ran out, and Bernie came back to the present and remembered that he was here to buy some weed. He closed up his car and walked in past the other office suites and businesses, and up to the door next to a big sign that said “The Greener Side.”
It was cool and pleasant in the waiting room. There were large, colorful portraits of cannabis flowers on the walls, and a 2 and ½ foot tall Buddha statue behind the front desk. The young lady at the desk with the beautiful smile asked Bernie for his I.D. As she was typing his information into the computer, Bernie glanced over into one of the rooms to his left. It was filled with attractive glass smoking pieces of various sizes that were available for purchase. There was also a very large hookah that looked like it might be made of brass. “She Still Loves Me” by SOJA was playing on the house speakers. A brief moment later Bernie was introduced to his budtender Sarah, and they walked back to the room where they kept the weed.
Sarah’s enthusiasm was contagious. She asked Bernie what he was looking for, then proceeded to show him some of the most beautifully grown marijuana that has ever existed, all the while listing for him the names, strains, psychoactive and medicinal properties, likely physical and mental effects, etc., etc. She let him smell a sample of everything she showed him. There seemed to be at least 30 different strains to choose from. Sarah’s excitement and knowledge about her subject was such that Bernie could have stayed there for hours talking with her about cannabis.
Bernie left The Greener Side with an eighth of Gorilla Glue #4 grown by Geek Farms, and another eighth of Blue Dream grown by High Mountain Organics, each in their own individual, labeled, plastic container. For the whole quarter of extremely kind bud, Bernie had paid less than $70, after leaving $4 in Sarah’s tip jar. He got in the car and turned on the radio. “Alright Now” by Free was playing on KZEL. Bernie turned it up and nodded along as he opened the containers to take another sniff. The Blue Dream was a Sativa-dominant hybrid strain that had a gorgeous smell. The Gorilla Glue #4 was a very stony hybrid flower that he had tried before, and had loved the effect it had on him.
The rhythm guitar part in “Alright Now” was perfect, and he turned it up until his ears were filled with it. It occurred to Big Bernie that while pretty much anything was better than trying to buy shitty weed from some random asshole in a Dairy Mart parking lot, he had no doubt that The Greener Side was the greatest weed store on the planet.
(all photos courtesy of The Greener Side)