Bernie cruised down west 11th looking for the weed store. “Rockin’ in the Free World” by Neil Young was playing on the radio when he spotted the white store front on the right and pulled over to the curb. Just as he did, a police car appeared in his rear-view mirror about a block behind him. Though its lights were not flashing, it pulled slowly over to the same curb and stopped about half a block back.
Bernie’s heart began to race a little, and he watched the car through his mirror, trying not to be obvious about it. He decided he would wait in the car to see if the nice officer would move on. He considered driving around aimlessly for 10 minutes then circling back. He thought about the fact that he was completely out of weed at the moment. This was very inconvenient.
Then he had another thought: marijuana was now legal in Oregon. Big Bernie was no longer a criminal. Whatever it was that policeman was doing parked back there had nothing to do with the fine people selling cannabis inside of the building to his right. Bernie took a long, deep breath and smiled.
He grabbed his wallet, got out of the car, and walked calmly into the weed store. He glanced over at the police car on his way in. Bernie laughed softly to himself as he opened the front door to Serra Eugene.
The waiting room was cool and clean. In fact, everything felt clean to Bernie, and he realized it was because every wall inside and out was painted a cool white. It felt refreshing.
The guy at the desk over on the side of the waiting room was friendly as he took Bernie’s I.D.
“First time in?” he asked Bernie.
“It is, indeed.” Bernie replied.
“Ah, welcome, then!” he smiled and typed in Bernie’s information as he waited.
Bernie sat down in a comfortable chair for a minute and thought back to how he used to buy weed in a small town he’d lived in back in the Midwest. This would have been around 1995 or ’96. It was very different from the way he bought weed now.
There had been only a few guys in town that he and his friends had known that sold bags of weed. It was almost always seedy, brown, outdoor-grown bud, smash-compacted so that it could be smuggled across the country crammed in some vehicle’s secret compartment. At some point, it made its way to the Midwest, then eventually, to one of the guys they knew.
Every once in a while, the whole town would go dry for a couple weeks. Completely dry. No one had weed. Everyone was out. The only people who were smoking were the ones who were smart enough to have put some away for a rainy day. And that group usually did not include Bernie. Because if he had it, Bernie smoked it. Simple as that.
“Hey man, you wouldn’t happen to have a bowl to smoke, would you?” Bernie and Buddy were playing acoustic guitars, picking out the chords for “Waterfall” by Jimi Hendrix.
“You know what, I just happen to have one bowl left. I’ve been saving it.” Buddy was a little better at putting away a bit of weed for a rainy day. Just a little bit.
“Fuck, yeah.” Bernie played a fast, bluesy lick high up on the fretboard of his guitar.
“Jake and Roach are on their way over. I told Jake I’d wait to smoke it with him.”
When Roach and Jake showed up, they all smoked the bowl together. It provided almost 2 small hits per person. After it was finished, they all agreed that they needed more weed.
Roach made a loud, frustrated noise, “God, it’s so fucking dry in this town!” he exclaimed.
Jake looked at him and slowly shook his head with a wry grin, “You, my friend, are a depraved reefer addict and you need to be locked up for the good of our society.”
Roach ignored him and stared off thinking. After a quiet moment, he suddenly yelled, “Bierson’s Ledges!”
The other three looked at him with growing recognition.
Bierson’s Ledges was a privately owned park with a lot of trees, and a quarry surrounded by low cliffs, or “ledges.” It was about an hour drive from where they lived, so they did not go very often. You had to pay a small fee per car to camp, or hang out. Families and kids swam in the quarry during the day. But at night, the place was legendarily a great place for local teenagers to go to safely drink beer, smoke weed, and blast their car stereos. Also, there was always at least one guy selling some buds.
“Dude, someone always has weed at Bierson’s Ledges!” Roach exclaimed.
They thought about it for a minute.
“We could take my car.” Buddy offered.
Jake looked around at the others, “Guys, are we really going to drive 50 miles just to try to get some pot?”
They looked at each other for a minute in silence.
An hour later they arrived at Bierson’s Ledges, paid the fee, and Buddy pulled his old Chevy Impala into the campground. There were a lot of cars already. It wasn’t dark yet, but it was getting close. Buddy found a place to park near the quarry that overlooked the woods and the cars on the other side. They all got out of the car and stretched their legs. They heard someone blasting “Voodoo Lady” by Ween on the other side of the quarry.
“I fucking love this song!” Roach said.
“Alright, let’s spread out so we can cover more ground.” Buddy said. “Want to meet back here in, like, 20 minutes?”
They all agreed and took off in different directions. On his way down the path, Bernie walked past one of the guys posted as “security” around the park. He wasn’t wearing a uniform or anything. In fact, Bernie was pretty sure they were just regular guys, maybe a little larger than most, hired to keep an eye out at night and make sure the partying didn’t get out of hand and nobody got hurt. Bernie gave the guard a friendly nod as he passed, and the guard nodded back.
The person who was blasting “Voodoo Lady” across the woods started the song over again. They seemed to have it on repeat.
Bernie found himself walking through a patch of woods, occasionally encountering a car with a small group of people around it. He found himself repeating the same script over and over.
“Hey, do you guys know where I can find any herb?”
They would shake their heads regretfully. “Sorry, man.”
“No worries. Have a good night.” He would reply.
After about 15 minutes of this, Bernie ran into Buddy.
“Any luck?” Bernie asked.
Buddy shook his head. “Nope. You?”
Bernie shook his head, and they walked down the path together. After a few more unsuccessful inquiries, they headed back toward the car.
As they passed the security guard Bernie had passed earlier, Buddy greeted him.
“What’s up, man?”
The security guard nodded, “What’s up, guys.”
They kept walking, then Buddy paused. Bernie stopped and looked at him.
“Hold on for just a minute,” Buddy said, and turned and walked back toward the security guard.
“Hey, can I ask you a question?” Buddy said to him.
“What’s up.” The guard looked at Buddy.
“Uhhh……” Buddy started nervously, “…..you wouldn’t happen to know where we could find some buds, would you?”
The guard looked at him for a minute. Then he shook his head. As he did, he pulled a box of Marlboro Reds from the front pocket of his jean jacket. Buddy watched as the guard reached into the box and pulled out a wrinkled joint.
Buddy’s eyes got a little wider. “Is that what I think it is?”
The guard did not say anything, but handed Buddy the joint.
Buddy took it and held the joint out in front of him and looked at it.
“Cool, man.” He finally said. “Um, how much?”
“Five bucks.” The guard said.
“Cool.” Buddy said, and quickly fished a five out of his wallet and handed it over.
“Thanks, man!” Buddy called back as he and Bernie walked away.
The guard nodded solemnly. “Enjoy your evening.”
Buddy and Bernie returned to the car and talked about what had just happened. They laughed with amazement and shook their heads. Soon they saw Jake and Roach walking toward them.
“Any luck?” Bernie called to them as they got closer.
Jake grinned and held a medium-sized joint out in front of him.
“We couldn’t find anyone to sell us a bag, but we managed to find this.”
Buddy smiled, “That’s something, at least. Now we have two joints.”
“You guys won’t believe where we got ours,” Bernie told them. “Buddy just walked up and asked the security guard by the north gate where we could find some herb, and the guy sold him a joint! Can you believe that?”
They all laughed. Jake and Roach laughed harder.
“Guess where we got our joint.” Jake said between laughs.
Buddy and Bernie asked where.
Jake laughed, “From the security guard at the south gate.”
They laughed again as Buddy fired up the first joint and passed it. “Voodoo Lady” started up again from across the quarry.
“You drive me crazy with that Boogie-oogie-oogie-oogie-oogie-oogie-oogie-oogie. You drive me crazy with that Boogie. Boogie.” Gene Ween sang once again.
“You can go in now.” The guy at the desk handed Bernie back his I.D. He was back in Serra Eugene. He was here to buy some weed. Bernie cleared his head, came back to the present, and walked through the opaque, white glass door into the room where they kept the weed.
It was a nice, big showroom, also white. There was an island-like counter of display cases for the weed in the middle of the room. Kaitlyn was incredibly helpful as she showed Bernie some of the wonderful options of flower they have at Serra.
That was one thing that Bernie was starting to notice more and more. No one who worked at dispensaries referred to them as “buds” anymore. The cannabis buds were always referred to as “flowers.” Bernie thought it had a nice ring to it. Also, it was accurate.
Bernie looked at the display case as Kaitlyn pointed to one of the samples behind the glass.
“This one is called Strawberry Cough. If you like a good sativa, you’ll love this one. It has an amazing flavor. The effects most people experience when they smoke it are uplifting and euphoric.” She pulled out a big jar of Strawberry Cough from behind the counter and held it out so Bernie could smell it.
It really did smell a little like strawberries. Bernie had never smelled anything like it. It was so good, he wanted to continue inhaling that full, fresh scent. After a few seconds, he decided it might be awkward if he just kept on smelling the jar, so he forced himself to stand back up straight again.
“Yep, I’ll definitely take an eighth of that one.” Bernie said quickly.
Kaitlyn sold Bernie another eighth of something called J1, a sativa-licious cross between Skunk #1 and Jack Herer. Bernie paid less than $70 for the combined quarter of killer buds. He left $4 in the tip jar for Kaitlyn, and walked out with a smile on his face.
On the way out to the car, he looked down the block where the policeman had been parked. During the ten minutes it had taken Bernie to buy weed, the police car had moved on. The nice officer obviously had more important things to do than to trouble good stoner citizens.
Bernie climbed into his car and turned on the radio. He popped open the small, white container of Strawberry Cough and took another sniff. Then he inhaled deeply. Then he did it again. “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones was playing on the radio. Bernie turned it up and continued to inhale the Strawberry Cough’s delicious scent.
He thought about how great it was that he didn’t have to drive 50 miles just to buy a couple of joints. He also thought that Serra Eugene might just be the most incredible weed store on the planet.
(all photos courtesy of Serra Eugene)