If you think of the weed world as a chair with four legs then the legs are the grower, the dealer, the go-between and the consumer. Each plays an essential part, though the go-between or middleman is often not accorded respect. I understand. Most days of the week I would hate to have to sell someone else’s weed to pay the bills. Why is that? I suppose it’s because I don’t like to be the go-between. It’s a near-impossible role to play, though I have played it and have done a pretty good job doing so. Some growers think the go-between doesn't provide a necessary task and don't want to pay him or her a percentage. Of course, the grower is a capitalist and might underpay the workers, whether they labor indoors or outdoors.
In the old days—before the State of California moved in and tried to regulate and tax—the buyer would snap up whatever the go-between offered. Now buyers want to window shop and cherry-pick. They want the top quality stuff first and the lesser quality product sometime later. These days, they buy in stages.
Pot farmers and pot traffickers are often different kinds of people and have trouble communicating clearly. The best farmers live close to the soil. They're rooted and hardworking. The best traffickers can be at home when they're on the road or off the road and can hold a poker face under stress.
Buyers want to haggle about money and rarely if ever accept the asking price. That’s the American way, the Arab way and the Chinese way. All around the world, buyers and sellers negotiate price. Buyers are fussy. So are sellers and consumers. If the seller wants to seal a deal, the terpenes, and the look of the weed have to be just right. In the weed market, some want humongous buds. Others don't want any stem. Some want purple flowers, others want emerald green. Buyers are looking for faults. If there are any they’ll find them.
Usually the seller has an inflated and a distorted view of his or her product. The seller will argue that his or her weed is better than everyone else’s, grown with more loving care than anyone else’s. Just like other salesmen, pot dealers do PR.
When I’ve been the man in the middle I have tried to adhere to certain principles or rules. I pass them on here to inform the public about a little-known world and in the hope that deals will go smoothly and with a minimum of stress.
Buying and selling weed has provided employment and income for many a go-between.
I have usually not smoked and been stoned when I was making a dope deal or delivery. I’d be up the night before, thinking about the journey and making sure everything on my vehicle was in good working order. I’d leave home at 6:30 a.m., blend into traffic. Only after I arrived at my destination would I light up a joint. Then I’d do an Oaky dance to celebrate the money I’d made.
Here are some of the basics to minimize exposure and keep you out of the clink. They are not in order of importance. The go-between is involved in a high-stakes, high-risk activity that can be very emotional.
- Try you best to make sure all interested parties can play their part.
- Check product for mold, rot, seeds. Don't sell anything that's sub-standard.
- Weigh accurately and package cleanly, attractively and safely.
- Select a vehicle in which everything works and all papers are up-to-date. Don't be a moving target. Consider a second vehicle as a decoy.
- Pack a lunch. Pee. Fill gas tank.
- Drive solo. Don't speed. Follow traffic rules.
- Park discreetly at the destination. Be as invisible as possible.
- Take time negotiating the deal and communicating clearly.
- Shake hands!
- Select the best person to transport the product and make the delivery. That means someone who can pass scrutiny before and during a stop by law enforcement.
- Be aware of racial profiling. Keep your cool and act appropriately. Remember Big Brother is watching.
- Have the name and the phone number of a bail bondsman and a lawyer you can call and count on. Memorize the numbers.
- At the place of origin, load product carefully into the vehicle used to transport the product.
- Carry no guns or weapons. Don't deal with guys who have guns.
- Bring the parties together so they’re not in harm’s way, whether from cops, thieves or not-so-innocent bystanders.
- Adhere to the terms of the agreement, including the cut or fee to the go-between.
- Count the money and weigh the weed before they change hands. Make sure money isn’t counterfeit.
- Wear a smile and have others smiling, too.
- Count your blessings.
(Joe Munson and Jonah Raskin are the authors of Joe Munson’s Adventures and Misadventures.)