The July 28 issue of the New Yorker has a fascinating, lengthy article by David Samuels about the medical marijuana industry in California. (Illustration by bOING bOING contributor Adrian Tomine)
[Captain] Blue's business consists mainly of selling a few pounds a week to various dispensaries; occasionally, though, a single outlet will buy five or more pounds at a time. In the course of a month, Blue is typically in debt to half a dozen people, and in turn holds markers for twenty to thirty thousand dollars that he is owed by distributors around town. Because Blue works only with people he trusts, he usually gets his money back, although it can take as long as two or three years for some debtors to make good. Understanding the abstractions of ganja credit and debt is important in the pot business, where financial success is determined largely by the velocity of your cash transactions. A practiced flipper like Blue can make twenty to thirty dollars on an eighth of an ounce of high-grade pot, which retails for anywhere between fifty and seventy-five dollars. Last year, Blue made roughly a hundred thousand dollars, and paid some ten thousand in taxes.
Later in the afternoon, a friend of Blue's, who calls herself Lily, showed up with a duffelbag. She unzipped the bag and placed on Blue's kitchen table three black trash bags filled with ganja. Lily is a courier; she transports pot to Los Angeles from the growing regions upstate. A witchy Japanese-American girl with a dolphin tattoo on her right shoulder, she wore large gold hoop earrings, a Lucite cross necklace, and sunglasses perched on top of her hair. She said that she got into the business because she suffers from chronic back and neck pain from a spinal injury, and found that smoking weed helped her with symptoms such as nausea and a loss of appetite.
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