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America’s Everyday Black-Market Economy
April 22, 2014 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Your Friendly Neighborhood Drug Dealer (SLThe Atlantic)
posted by box (81 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
But the Prison-Industrial-Complex needs the War on Drugs to survive.
posted by Flood at 10:38 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]




Flood: "But the Prison-Industrial-Complex needs the War on Drugs to survive."

And that's why ending the war on drugs will help pull down the PIC. Change is coming.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:46 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Meh. I wish they'd leagalize it all.

Spend that War on Drugs money on rehab, day care, pre-school, etc.

America as utopia. Or Holland.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:56 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


Tom Lehrer: The Old Dope Peddler
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:02 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I wonder if these buddy-buddy weed sommalier guys would step up the violence if one of their customers tries to rip them off or run their mouths off to the wrong people? I can't imagine you last long in this business if you look weak.
posted by dr_dank at 11:05 AM on April 22


But Black Dynamite, I sell drugs to the community!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:07 AM on April 22 [11 favorites]


Yahoo! News reported today that Obama "wants to use his previously dormant pardon power as part of a larger strategy to restore fairness to the criminal-justice system. A senior administration official tells Yahoo News the president could grant clemency to 'hundreds, perhaps thousands' of people locked up for nonviolent drug crimes by the time he leaves office — a stunning number that hasn't been seen since Gerald Ford extended amnesty to Vietnam draft dodgers in the 1970s."

Philly preppies accused in ‘Main Line take over’ drug operation aimed at cornering supply to fancy schools

Authorities say at the top of the operation’s 11-person apparatus were 18-year-old Timothy Brooks and 25-year-old Neil Scott. Both of them, as well as some of their alleged employees, attended the Haverford School, an all-boys preparatory school that costs $35,000 per year and is nestled inside Philadelphia’s affluent “Main Line.”
posted by Drinky Die at 11:07 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Viktor has a complex position on legalization. He told me he’d be happy working for the “Budweiser of weed” if marijuana were legalized nationally. At the same time, he acknowledged that state-by-state legalization is already hurting his business. “I’ve got an out, an amount I’m shooting for, but time is running out,” he told me. “The margins get thinner every year. The shifting legal landscape is destroying the margins.”

I've heard the same thing from people on the periphery of the business -- you can make money today, but full legalization may end that.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:10 AM on April 22


During the evenings I spent accompanying Carlo on his rounds, I learned that his customer base included people of all walks of life

I know that it will come as a surprise to some readers out there (even readers of the Atlantic, yes) that people who use drugs are not all twitchy degenerates, and surprisingly (to some) few of us will ruin our own or anyone else's lives as long as we steer clear of the criminal justice system.
posted by rtha at 11:11 AM on April 22 [13 favorites]


I wonder if these buddy-buddy weed sommalier guys would step up the violence if one of their customers tries to rip them off or run their mouths off to the wrong people? I can't imagine you last long in this business if you look weak.

I seriously doubt it. From my highly non-scientific observations, that type of guy is not a violent criminal at all, and the business doesn't really require too much hardness- just a willingness to accept risk, and a decent set of locks.

There was an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine recently which, although it is a comedy show, had what seemed to me like an amazingly true-to-life drug dealer- a dude whose dream job was selling drugs because it's easy and lucrative, but who quit immediately rather than get involved in a turf war when a bigger name moved in.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:16 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


I've heard the same thing from people on the periphery of the business -- you can make money today, but full legalization may end that.

Yeah this is true, but that money is moving towards other legitimate businesses. Those pretty little boxes for example; someone made those. Someone got paid (probably in trade) to design them, and someone else got paid to manufacture them. I know a designer who works for a medical marijuana outfit to make their packaging; he can't wait for legalization because he'll get way more business from them.

These guys could end up actually being weed sommelier guys at a shop; and I'd love it! Just like at the wine shop and the beer shop, and my tobacconist; I let them do their thing within the parameters I set as a customer….and sweet jesus I tip well because of it.

I think a shift away from a couple people making a shit-ton of money towards tax revenue and legitimate, somewhat well paying jobs is a pretty awesome direction for the country to move in.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:20 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Did they ask Carlo if he carried heat? I would imagine his driver was strapped at least.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:21 AM on April 22


> These guys could end up actually being weed sommelier guys at a shop;

Conceivably, but you don't see such roles in e.g. Amsterdam.

> I think a shift away from a couple people making a shit-ton of money towards tax revenue and legitimate, somewhat well paying jobs is a pretty awesome direction for the country to move in.

That isn't going to happen. Prices will drop dramatically, and a much larger portion of the price will be captured by the growers and high volume distributors like Marlboro with a distribution system already in place.

Working as a clerk in a liquor store is not really a great way to make a living in 2014 America, so why would you expect working as a clerk in a legal pot store to be significantly better?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:24 AM on April 22 [9 favorites]


...you can make money today, but full legalization may end that.

I'm pretty sure Anheuser-Busch InBev is making money.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:26 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


it makes me a little sad when people sell both weed and coke. it's like, be a force for good or for evil, make up your mind
posted by angrycat at 11:30 AM on April 22 [22 favorites]


Did they ask Carlo if he carried heat? I would imagine his driver was strapped at least.

I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was no, myself. When you're out on a corner, people know who you are and that you have something worth stealing. These guys, they go from trusted customer to trusted customer, just another schmuck in a town car.
posted by Diablevert at 11:32 AM on April 22


I'm pretty sure Anheuser-Busch InBev is making money.

Yep, I wonder which cartels are likely to roll in and monopolize the weed market like Bud, Miller, and Coors did in the US for 50 years.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:32 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I've met some really decent people who sell hard drugs*, but the majority are a bunch of shortsighted fools who don't understand that they stand to make a shitload more money in the long run by being honest then by cutting stuff to hell and otherwise ripping folks off. These are also the dealers that end up getting turned in or otherwise busted, as they're seen as much more disposable by their customers.

I would imagine that molly dealers with highbrow clientele are slightly more honest than most of the dealers I've come across, although I definitely bought shitty MDMA in pill/ecstasy form a few times. Does anyone know if the newer version the kids are calling molly is any more reliable? Seems like it would be a lot easier and more tempting for end-level dealers to cut with readily available materials. I have no idea, as it got popular as I moved away from more binge-oriented drugs. I certainly loved the stuff the few times I encountered it, though.

*Qualification: the Kardashians probably would be happy with a house bought with the money I've spent on drugs.
posted by item at 11:34 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I wonder if these buddy-buddy weed sommalier guys would step up the violence if one of their customers tries to rip them off or run their mouths off to the wrong people? I can't imagine you last long in this business if you look weak.

From what I saw, this is what happened.

Get robbed by some frat jerks in a turtle bay building. Have it happen again. Eat the cost. Don't go to that building anymore. Spend a summer away from the job in Switzerland with your unspeakably attractive 23 year old boyfriend.
posted by The Whelk at 11:37 AM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Did they ask Carlo if he carried heat? I would imagine his driver was strapped at least.

I doubt it. Most of the dealers I encountered when I lived in NYC didn't, as in the event of a shakedown it's a lot easier to stash an evening's supply than it is a gun, plus it ups the charges significantly - the city has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
posted by item at 11:39 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


> the majority are a bunch of shortsighted fools who don't understand that they stand to make a shitload more money in the long run by being honest then by cutting stuff to hell and otherwise ripping folks off

I must see a better class of dealer, because I've just never had that. Sometimes their product is better than others, but the honesty level is great.

I remember once - a long time ago - some friends of mine took a bunch of the E of a dealer I know, and then several hits of my acid - then denied having any results. Now, I knew for sure that the acid worked, and I also knew that this was the very same E that the dealer was using.

They complained to him, when he was over just to hang out, anyway - he opened his mouth to say something, and then simply reached into his wallet and gave them their money back. Later I said, "R, why did you do that? You knew full well that that stuff was real!" and he said, "They were dissatisfied, so they get their money back."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:39 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I wonder if these buddy-buddy weed sommalier guys would step up the violence if one of their customers tries to rip them off or run their mouths off to the wrong people? I can't imagine you last long in this business if you look weak.

I know it might surprise you, but when your clientele is middle and upper class people you never actually worry about that kind of thing. I used to know dozens of ecstasy dealers and sold it myself, and it was very casual and laid back at the retail level. My distributors were a pair of goth kids from the suburbs that were about the sweetest people you'd ever meet, and when I talked to them about where they got it from, they told me that they never dealt with any dangerous people, either. They sold mdma, pot, ketamine, acid and cocaine to a group of about two dozen dealers and just regular people. I don't know how much money they were making, but I'd guess in the mid six figures? But they'd throw parties where people would just hang out, do whippets, and watch the power puff kids. I can't even imagine them getting violent. They never fronted people anything and never bought anything without the cash to pay for it, so that reduced the opportunities for getting ripped off, I guess.

You had to go several rungs up the chain before you start dealing with mob people and such. When you're dealing with middle class people, there is so much money and so little chance of getting caught, and even if you get caught, of doing time, that nobody worries about it.
posted by empath at 11:40 AM on April 22 [12 favorites]


Oh and it wasn't thier customers who mugged them, just burly white guys who lived in the building and saw a target.
posted by The Whelk at 11:42 AM on April 22


I would imagine that molly dealers with highbrow clientele are slightly more honest than most of the dealers I've come across, although I definitely bought shitty MDMA in pill/ecstasy form a few times. Does anyone know if the newer version the kids are calling molly is any more reliable? Seems like it would be a lot easier and more tempting for end-level dealers to cut with readily available materials.

I stopped using drugs, for the most part, years ago, but I would not use powdered mdma unless a good friend of mine had already taken it and was rolling face. But I can say from experience that actual pills in Europe and LA are quite nice still, if you know the right people.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on April 22


I wonder which cartels are likely to roll in and monopolize the weed market like Bud, Miller, and Coors did in the US for 50 years.

The Illinois laws have already stacked the deck in the favor of big operations. There is a lot of squealing from people who were planing to start legit selling who then discovered that their operations were going to be too small scale to be legal and profitable because of the licensing requirements.

It's kind of the like how they way they legalized concealed carry but only for people who drive cars.
posted by srboisvert at 11:44 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I must see a better class of dealer

I believe it. I'm talking about dealers across the entire drug-world spectrum, not just those who deliver to a high class clientele. Not that I'm insinuating you run in a hoity-toity circle.
posted by item at 11:45 AM on April 22


Never trust a dealer who doesn't do exchanges/refunds when the customer is unhappy. It's good business, and it creates an atmosphere of trust, which is essential for everyone's peace of mind. Your dealer can afford to treat you with respect, and if they're smart they will. It should go without saying, but good grief, don't buy drugs from assholes.
posted by heyho at 11:51 AM on April 22


My hint to The Atlantic:

When you have an asterisk as a footnote, you should probably place that at the bottom of the page the asterisk is on. Not at the bottom of the article. Particularly when the asterisk was a correction of this magnitude:

* An earlier version of this article read that each bag contained 100 grams of cocaine. We regret the error.

It was actually two 1-gram bags!
posted by kuanes at 11:52 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I wonder if these buddy-buddy weed sommalier guys would step up the violence if one of their customers tries to rip them off or run their mouths off to the wrong people? I can't imagine you last long in this business if you look weak.

Nah, please. I mean, if you tried to physically rob them, some of them might defend themselves, naturally, but if you pulled some kind of fast one? They wouldn't sell to you anymore. Maybe besmirch your name in public if you're in a place with connected druggie circles like a small town. But there are all sorts of different scenes. For instance, I do not know anyone who has smoked crack. I think I know very few who would seriously countenance it.

But it's more or less the same as if I happened to have a scale and find that my dealer is unforgivably underweight. I'm not gonna track him down, beat his ass, and take it out of him in weed/money, I'm just gonna move on.

Just like real life business, it's mostly not murders, thievery, and backstabbing. This reminds me of a time in college when a buddy and I were going to take a quick subway ride to pick up some weed, and a third guy wanted to come along. But he wanted us to wait for him to get ready. It transpired that he really wanted to see "a drug deal" and we explained we were going to X______'s apartment, which he had seen, and we would say hello, we would give him some twenties, and he would give us a bag of weed. Since then we've adopted the Arrested Development reference to flashing the lights to let the dealer know what's going down. We have ... a deal.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:55 AM on April 22 [2 favorites]


For instance, I do not know anyone who has smoked crack. I think I know very few who would seriously countenance it.

Unfortunately, a sizable percentage of drug deals that go down involve crack and the nice-guy dealer who will only besmirch the name of a user who pulled a fast one is in the minority.
posted by item at 12:00 PM on April 22


Just don't sell anything to the really over eager new kid in school. Especially if you happen to be autistic and desperate to make new friends. Seriously, fuck the police.
posted by Arbac at 12:08 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]


> not just those who deliver to a high class clientele. Not that I'm insinuating you run in a hoity-toity circle.

Lots of musicians - all word of mouth.

Actually, the E dealer (whom I didn't buy from) dealt to some pretty high-powered people (he's retired now) and I got to hang several times in the VIP section of clubs like Palladium with actual supermodels - which was generally pretty dull after the first time...

> I do not know anyone who has smoked crack. I think I know very few who would seriously countenance it.

Smokeable rock cocaine is not at all uncommon still, even at "higher levels of society". I tried it once or twice but never liked it at all - I never liked stimulants particularly, or I wouldn't have tried it in the first place - I was (literally) just being polite.

These things are very dangerous - but the plain fact is that most people who try cocaine and heroin never get hooked. That makes it worse, not better - you can have an infrastructure of functional people as you personally spiral down - so I recommend that people stay far away from those white powders.

But in almost 30 years on the NYC music scene, the most destructive drug amongst my extended circle has been alcohol.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:08 PM on April 22 [10 favorites]


The thing about Marlboro taking over the weed market is that there are a lot of home-growers they'd have to compete with. I can see corporate weed being what you find behind the counter at the 7-11, but since there is already a huge swath of people growing their own, who are already used to a word-of-mouth, under-the-radar setup, I don't think Big Weed is going to be able to run them all out of business, even if they manage to push through some kind of grossly unfair licensing laws.
posted by emjaybee at 12:11 PM on April 22


Unfortunately, a sizable percentage of drug deals that go down involve crack and the nice-guy dealer who will only besmirch the name of a user who pulled a fast one is in the minority.

I wonder if that's true, actually. There's got to be an order of magnitude more people smoking weed than crack. Presumably the proportion of weed dealers is similarly higher. Of course, not everybody's spending $50 for a coffin with two nugs of Purple Haze. But yeah, especially in the city, with cell phones I bet the vast majority of buyers aren't coping off a corner like they used to, even at the lower end.
posted by Diablevert at 12:13 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, a sizable percentage of drug deals that go down involve crack and the nice-guy dealer who will only besmirch the name of a user who pulled a fast one is in the minority.

There are basically no numbers here that I've seen. You could be right or not, I really don't know except my own experiences. It would seem people tend to buy drugs from their social class or like, a tier or two down. Harvard kids buy their weed from Harvard kids. Bankers maybe don't buy their weed from bankers but they buy from dealers who will give them the NYC service experience they are accustomed to. This does not include violence or anything so unsubtle as gross ripoffs.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:15 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


The thing about Marlboro taking over the weed market is that there are a lot of home-growers they'd have to compete with.

It used to be illegal to brew your own beer in the US. It's still illegal to distill. This wasn't because people were lacking in who knew how to homebrew some good stuff.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:16 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


In my experience, for every 10 Carlos, there's a hundred kids slinging dope because it's the only way they know how to turn a buck, and a hundred more doing it because they watched Scarface a few too many times.

Then, unfortunately, you have the predators, the borderline personalities drawn to the lure of fast cash... those with sociopathic tendencies who view their customers like objects. The ones that feign being out of stock on the "gateway drugs" like Molly and Marijuana to offer those looking for a quick escape something much more addictive.

I don't have any issue with people enjoying their free time in whatever chemically induced state they wish, provided no one gets hurt, but I don't get the "noble entrepreneur" emotional tack this article seems to take.

I look at drug dealers in the same way I view people who own a McDonald's. It's a quick buck with steady clientele, provides instant gratification for those people who crave it (and quite unhealthy for those who overindulge), but there's nothing really mystical or "cool" about it.

Drinking and drugging feel good, they spark conviviality, good times, create lifelong memories, and can make a fun time much better.

Drinking and drugging also kill people, derail the lives of people, and hurt even those who don't have drinking and drug problems.

That said, I'm all for mass legalization of drugs. Just make it a privilege, like driving, and not a right.

Lastly, for every 1,000,000 Carlos, there's 1 Purdue Pharma and their lobbyists... and I think we all know who the real "gangsters" are in that comparison.
posted by Debaser626 at 12:17 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


But yeah, especially in the city, with cell phones I bet the vast majority of buyers aren't coping off a corner like they used to, even at the lower end.

You get a number from a friend, save it in your phone as "tech support," and text it "Hey, Jimmy gave me this number. Can you come over later?" Then they do.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:18 PM on April 22


You get a number from a friend, save it in your phone as "tech support," and text it "Hey, Jimmy gave me this number. Can you come over later?" Then they do.

Back when I lived in NYC and was a frequent patron of delivery services, I always thought the little codes they asked you to use were hilarious. Like, call Jim and say you want to buy apples. I mean like, if the DEA is listening to this call, is that really going to fool them? "No worries with this call, officer Dave. This is just a nice young man having some very expensive apples delivered."
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:29 PM on April 22 [16 favorites]


Here's an interesting way racism works - I've known and heard of NYC weed delivery services that are big enough to have employees and management having policies of only hiring White people and Asian people, not so much because of the management's views, but because of the management's views on NYPD's views.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:30 PM on April 22 [16 favorites]


Also, because weed was almost always delivered in those little plastic boxes from the Container Store that are basically used for nothing else, I wonder how much of the 6th Avenue Container Store's quarterlies were thousands and thousands of eighth boxes.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:31 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Selling to legal dispensaries averages out at $1,800 per pound, but on the black market, a pound of high-quality marijuana can make you upward of $5,500 dollars.

I don't know California weed prices, but I know some people who grow and their spread between dispensary and illegal sales isn't nearly that much, and has gotten significantly tighter in the last year or so.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:31 PM on April 22


Then, unfortunately, you have the predators, the borderline personalities drawn to the lure of fast cash... those with sociopathic tendencies who view their customers like objects. The ones that feign being out of stock on the "gateway drugs" like Molly and Marijuana to offer those looking for a quick escape something much more addictive.

This is ridiculous. There is not much overlap between people that do psychedelics and people that do heroin. There is piles of money to be made on 'gateway drugs'. They are amazing experiences that people like to repeat, 'addictive' or not. There is some overlap between stimulant users and ecstasy users, but the people that like pot aren't just gonna do heroin because there's no weed around. The hardcore addicts are hardcore addicts and they don't need a push from a drug dealer to make them one. If they couldn't find heroin, they'd be huffing paint.

I feel like people who haven't done drugs feel like there is some kind of escalating scale of fucked-up-ness from a beer at the local pub, to pot, to cocaine, to heroin, and that anybody who enjoys one will automatically enjoy the 'harder ones' more. I've tried lots of different drugs, and they simply aren't substitutable products. If you want to roll, you might be willing to take shrooms or meth instead, but you aren't going to buy heroin. You don't go to a club to nod off in the corner, you're going to dance. And if you want to trip, you might buy pot, instead, but you aren't going to get cocaine. It's not exactly the same experience to listen to Dark Side of the Moon after doing a bunch of blow, you know?

I can tell you this -- most of the nights where I've done stuff I've regretted started and ended with one drug-- alcohol.
posted by empath at 12:34 PM on April 22 [21 favorites]


See man I do electronics and computers shit for hobbyist purposes and I have a legitimate reason to want little plastic baggies, tiny containers, divider boxes, etc... but better safe than sorry on that one when there's weed in the place.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:38 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Threads like this always amaze me.

I haven't bought weed since before cell phones were invented. The idea of texting someone and they show up at your doorstep with a few boxes from The Container Store, give you your choice of weed, and then leave with a smile and the satisfaction of a job well done, this is alien to me.

I had to buy weed from my dirtbag buddy James' dirtbag buddy Rob. We would drive around in my dirtbag friend Danny's Camaro to the five or six places Rob was likely to be, ask him if he had some weed, and then he would sell us a small sandwich bag of whatever shitty bit of stems and seeds he had on him, charge us $50.00 for a quarter oz. that couldn't have been more than an eighth, and then tell us we were assholes if we didn't roll a big joint and smoke it with him right then and there.

It was dirtbags all the way down. It just isn't fair.
posted by bondcliff at 12:39 PM on April 22 [32 favorites]


> I know that it will come as a surprise to some readers out there (even readers of the Atlantic, yes) that people who use drugs are not all twitchy degenerates...

One word; teachers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:40 PM on April 22


I can tell you this -- most of the nights where I've done stuff I've regretted started and ended with one drug-- alcohol.
This, a hundred times.

Also: both of my near-death-experiences while driving were due to the same drug: coffee.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:41 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Lol,Bondcliff. I just about strangled my stepbrother eons ago when he called his dealer from the cell phone he borrowed from me. Now in the age of automated mass surveillance, I couldn't imagine doing anything more naughty than ordering an extra large pizza over a cell phone.
posted by dr_dank at 12:54 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


The ones that feign being out of stock on the "gateway drugs" like Molly and Marijuana to offer those looking for a quick escape something much more addictive.

I kind of feel like I've wandered into a Dragnet episode or something. Is this scenario something that you've experienced? Because wow, it makes like zero sense to me, for the reasons empath lays out above.

But then again I probably live in some kind of bubble- weed hasn't even seemed illegal to me since I was a teenager ~30 years ago. As a white guy who reads as middle-class-ish, the only time I notice it is when somebody's supplier's runner gets busted with a few pounds and then it takes an extra phone call to get some more, for awhile.

Pot just seems like part of the culture, it's everywhere to the point where I would have been dubious that much in this article was any kind of news to even most Atlantic readers- do they not have their own 'Carlos'? Goes to show me, I guess.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:03 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Texting polite dudes who deliver in a timely fashion is such an upgrade from all the various ways procurement activities were undertaken back when my cost::benefit ratio of getting sucked into the legal system evaluated differently.

I can't wait for legalization to hit my little suburb of Muskogee.
posted by Fezboy! at 1:21 PM on April 22


I can tell you this -- most of the nights where I've done stuff I've regretted started and ended with one drug-- alcohol.

I guess most people here haven't spent time around smack addicts. I've never crossed that line myself, but sweet Jesus I've been around it. (There are things in my past that will keep me from ever running for public office.) To imagine that alcohol is like the worst drug evar or even comparable with heroin is uninformed fantasy.

I'm all for the legalisation of soft drugs - like weed and shrooms - but hard drugs? No way. You'd be consigning a whole lot of people to more misery than you can possibly imagine. That's something even the Dutch aren't down with.

Selling weed where it's illegal? You're my friend. Peddle hard drugs and you're an asshole who deserves whatever the law can dish out to you.
posted by three blind mice at 1:26 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


And that's why ending the war on drugs will help pull down the PIC. Change is coming.
They're switching to immigrants. See the Arizona bill, written by a private prison corporation, or the bed mandate that requires federal detention centers to keep 34k minimum prisoners at all times.
posted by stavrogin at 1:48 PM on April 22


my little suburb of Muskogee

But... at least White Lightning's still the biggest thrill of all, right? Has country music lied to me?

I bet jokes about that song never get old for you! Sorry. But hey, at least making this comment made me wonder- is Merle Haggard not a gigantic stoner? Of course he fucking is!
posted by hap_hazard at 1:48 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


tbm, a fair amount of the crazy shit that happens around the hard drugs is because the minority of people for whom they are significantly addictive have trouble keeping themselves in the habit because of price or unavailability at a given time. That leads them, quite understandably in my view, to do stupid shit.

Understandable because most people go fucking nuts after a few days of lack of sleep alone, much less the rest of the shit that comes with withdrawals from physically addictive drugs.

If their being illegal actually prevented millions of our people from using them and being addicted to them, I'd be all for the status quo, but it does not in any way prevent that. All the present legal framework does is provide an significant incentive for bad behavior.
posted by wierdo at 1:50 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


I wonder if these buddy-buddy weed sommalier guys would step up the violence if one of their customers tries to rip them off or run their mouths off to the wrong people? I can't imagine you last long in this business if you look weak.

I seriously doubt it. From my highly non-scientific observations, that type of guy is not a violent criminal at all, and the business doesn't really require too much hardness- just a willingness to accept risk, and a decent set of locks.


Um, right. Because of course, selling drugs is just like being an Avon Lady. Just ask this guy.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:04 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


You'd be consigning a whole lot of people to more misery than you can possibly imagine. That's something even the Dutch aren't down with.

I'm reminded of a time when I visited a project run by the Rotterdam junkiebond back in the early 90's.

They had this building -- presumably a squat, but I don't know. Downstairs was a kind of coffee bar, where you could smoke heroin and crack and do needle exchange with the coffee.

Upstairs was a room with a shower and a washing machine that the injectors used to inject in.

If you bought regularly from the house dealers in the place, you could go along and get what was called (in Dutch) a 'better-maker'. Half a strip/stripe of dope -- so, half of the lowest retail purchase -- for free, so you could get up and get out and make your money to score later on in the day.

The Dutch police dropped by all the time. Looking to see that there weren't any people who were on the run hiding out there, no runaway kids, etc. and just to keep a general eye on the place.

But other than that, they seemed fine with the arrangement.

It wasn't the only such place in town either. You also had Hans Visser's church, and Platform Zero at the railway station. Both hosted pretty open hard drug using/dealing scenes that went unmolested by the Dutch police.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:10 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Division of illicit substances into "good drugs" and "bad drugs" contributes to the overall problem.
posted by telstar at 2:24 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I'm all for the legalisation of soft drugs - like weed and shrooms - but hard drugs? No way. You'd be consigning a whole lot of people to more misery than you can possibly imagine.

As far as I'm aware, there is zero evidence that decriminalization of "hard" drugs increases the number of users or people becoming addicted. Do you have links that suggest legalization would be different?
posted by rtha at 2:31 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


To imagine that alcohol is like the worst drug evar or even comparable with heroin is uninformed fantasy.

Yes, but heroin being available doesn't mean most people would use it. I had opportunities and so did my friends, and I would say out of a hundred people a handful used heroin. The vast majority used mdma, ketamine, LSD, shrooms and pot only. A significant minority used speed and cocaine. A smaller majority used prescription stuff like Vicodin, etc.. Only the most broken, out of control people used heroin, and for most of them heroin use was a symptom of a life gone really wrong, rather than the cause.

There are a lot of really bad mistakes you have to make in life before you stick a needle in the arm, and finding a dealer isn't really the biggest hurdle.
posted by empath at 2:41 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Upstairs was a room with a shower and a washing machine that the injectors used to inject in.

Legal (or illegal but tacitly permitted) injection places, with clean needles and supplies, sometimes a nurse, trained staff, etc, seem to becoming increasingly accepted as an effective harm reduction strategy, albeit very slowly.

Even if you don't fully legalize hard drugs, there are still smart ways to reduce the impacts to both users and communities. We don't gain anything by locking up teenagers for smoking pot, and we don't gain anything by putting people in situations where they need to share needles or take serious risks to support their habit.

It may be that what works in the Netherlands won't work in the US, and so on for other places, but we'll only know if we can experiment more. The article is about the upper tier of recreational drug selling, but even in that context there should be open and available harm reduction options available. Illegality and stigmatization cause endless problems.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:44 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I remember those straight edge shirts that use to say "kill your local drug dealer"
posted by gucci mane at 3:15 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I remember those straight edge kids I stayed far, far away from.
posted by item at 5:07 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Also: both of my near-death-experiences while driving were due to the same drug: coffee.

Whoah, let's not go blaming coffee. If you kept driving when you needed to stop and get sleep, and thought coffee could counter act that, you were wrong.
posted by thelonius at 6:16 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Whoah, let's not go blaming coffee. If you kept driving when you needed to stop and get sleep, and thought coffee could counter act that, you were wrong.
Exactly the opposite - in both cases, I woke up well rested, had a latte and set off to go skiing. I was fairly new to coffee at the time, and wasn't prepared for how twitchy coffee made me. End result was 720s on snow in front of a semi truck. The second case was similar, but instead of a semi truck, I had a few close encounters with a snowbank and the front and rear end of my car.

Coffee is a very powerful drug that will fuck you up if you don't respect it. It is just so normalized in our society that we don't think much of it.

Also: quitting cannabis is child's play compared to quitting coffee.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:26 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


The ones that feign being out of stock on the "gateway drugs" like Molly and Marijuana to offer those looking for a quick escape something much more addictive.

This sounds like something I would hear from someone who has never bought drugs.
posted by ryanrs at 6:27 PM on April 22 [7 favorites]


Caffeine withdrawal headaches are a bitch, indeed.
posted by thelonius at 6:28 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


I'm seeing a weird behavior in Seattle. I don't know if this is an accurate perception, or confirmation bias, but ever since pot became legalized in Washington State, a LOT more strangers are offering to sell me weed. Like, I got asked once a week now, when going about my day, all over town, and by complete strangers. (I don't do pot, for the record - I'm not against it, it's just not my thing.)

It seems that two factors may be in play here, from the observations of someone completely outside of it all - now that it's legal, there's a lot less risk in selling it. And/or, they're wanting to sell their stash before the state sanctioned official stores open up, later this year.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:09 PM on April 22


Caffeine withdrawal headaches are a bitch, indeed.

I quit cold caffeine cold turkey last weekend (not on purpose, just didn't happen to have any for a few days), and it wasn't just the headaches -- I had dizziness and nausea to go with it. I thought I was having a stroke or something -- then I looked up the symptoms, saw that it could be caffeine withdrawal, realized I hadn't had coffee in 4 days, went to starbucks, and I was fine an hour later. Caffeine addiction is a real thing, apparently, and I have it.
posted by empath at 7:43 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


I had it for real when power was out for 10 days, and I was living in a one room bunker with no way to make fire.
posted by thelonius at 8:23 PM on April 22


Yesterday, I went a whole day without caffeine, my first in decades...the trick is to reduce slowly, like over six months...I went from Cubano mud to gringo dishwater diner coffee...I will still have a cup, but I won't be suffering withdrawal effects if I don't. A caffeine jones is the worst kind of monkey to have on one's back!
posted by bonefish at 9:18 PM on April 22


> Just don't sell anything to the really over eager new kid in school. Especially if you happen to be autistic and desperate to make new friends.

That's such a fucked up story.
posted by homunculus at 10:48 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


My technique for quitting coffee is to switch to Nescafé. It's easy to control the dose and titrate downwards, and reducing the dose makes me happy.

These reports about the availability of marijuana in the USA are weird, given all the horror stories about drug busts and imprisonment. The law's a lot less strict in Australia, but as far as I know marijuana is a lot less available - maybe I just don't know the right people, but a bit of Googling indicates that lots of people here are desperately looking for dealers online, and can't find anyone.

Of course, there's a selection effect there.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:18 AM on April 23


These reports about the availability of marijuana in the USA are weird, given all the horror stories about drug busts and imprisonment.

Depends on who you are and who your friends are really. I don't know any drug dealers any more, so I'd have a hard time finding basically anything -- and I'm getting to be that age where people would think I'm a narc. But 10 years ago I probably could have stocked a small pharmacy. My friends that still get high and kept up with their connections don't seem to be having any problems.
posted by empath at 12:25 AM on April 23


My technique for quitting coffee is to switch to Nescafé.

Cold turkey? Harsh.
posted by pompomtom at 2:41 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


These reports about the availability of marijuana in the USA are weird, given all the horror stories about drug busts and imprisonment.

Middle class white people with good jobs and access to good lawyers have little to fear from a first-time weed bust. The laws vary significantly from state to state, but in most places it's not going to fuck up your life. If you're poor, or non-white, or are already in a tenuous employment/legal/life situation, the stakes are much, much higher.
posted by ryanrs at 3:58 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


...quitting cannabis is child's play compared to quitting coffee.

Sing the java jive, bruddah.

In a social situation with a bunch of senior medics - who really do make the best druggies - and comparing notes as to what would the one Desert Island Drug you'd really miss above all others, the conclusion was (a) caffeine wasn't it but (b) OK yes it was really. Well above alcohol and cannabis, haroin and tobacco, your coke and speed and smoothies and good things that can come your way working in a hospital.

It's a fucker to quit, and insinuates itself back with truly satanic ease. And it's not that much fun.

I'd seriously consider giving up alcohol in exchange for a six-monthly guaranteed hit of proper acid in a beautiful place with no hassles. But not giving up coffee.

Man. How did that happen?
posted by Devonian at 5:43 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Coffee to black tea to green tea. That's what worked for me. Still caffeine but less.

I thought, after giving up smoking, that my coffee cup would be pried from my cold dead fingers. But then aging happened, and voila, my body could no longer handle it. I did have an existential crisis at the thought of giving up coffee.

But now I'm not drinking coffee dawn 'til dusk, a cup of coffee in the drowsy afternoon hours is a pleasant buzz.
posted by angrycat at 12:36 PM on April 23


I must be truly blessed because I've never had caffeine headaches or any other withdrawal issues at all.. and I was a 10+ cups a day guy when I first started.. but I never drank it on the weekends (unless I went out for brunch) so maybe that is it? When I started working from home a year ago I just stopped drinking coffee because I'm too lazy to make it and it wasn't even an issue enough for me to notice I'd stopped.
posted by mbatch at 5:20 PM on April 23


My wife drinks a LARGE pot of STRONG coffee every morning, invariably. If I even drink a quarter cup of that shit I am in for a 24 hour "experience" which will probably end badly in a desperate attempt to come down. This is one reason I have come to believe there is no point in dividing psychoactive chems into "good drugs" and "bad drugs". Good/bad for what use? Good/bad in terms of whose metabolism?

A Turkish sultan once tried to prohibit coffee by cutting off noses of those caught using. It didn't work.
posted by telstar at 5:38 PM on April 23


A Turkish sultan once tried to prohibit coffee by cutting off noses of those caught using. It didn't work.

About two years ago I edged my way into an actual caffeine addiction -- I'd always enjoyed a cup of coffee or tea here and there, but never as an every day thing until recently. It's not something that causes any problems in my life (probably the reverse in fact, you can get a lot done when you are bouncing off the walls) but I liked it better when I wasn't addicted. So just stop, you say, right?

Ha ha.

Stopping isn't particularly hard, there are a couple of days of headaches and a day or two for my stomach to readjust. But within a week, I'm magically drinking it again, like the addicted section of my brain takes over one morning and there I am with a large coffee in my hand and a big manic grin.

Since there are no consequences it's just sort of funny, but it's given me an empathy for smokers that I never had before. If quitting such a mild drug is this hard, I can all of a sudden get a glimpse of how hard dealing with a serious addiction must be.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:12 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


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