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The Flood of Marijuana Dispensaries

“To deal out; distribute.”

photo by Neal Hemphill

During my drinking and using days, marijuana was a staple. Beer and weed were kind of the base from which my addictions worked, the foundational substances.

My joke is that I smoked “bales” of weed over the years. It’s not far from the truth.

I last smoked weed before I got completely clean and sober in 1989.

Like alcohol, it had stopped working for me. I usually found myself “stoned” as opposed to “high.” That meant to me that I was in a stupor that I didn’t like. The hilarity and ridiculousness of feeling high rarely hit me.

Of course, I still chased the high feeling. But I’d end up stoned and depressed about it. I became non-functional when I was stoned.

Eventually, I put it down.


I remember buying weed in bodegas in the East Village in NYC back in the '80's. Word would go around that “the place on E. 9th St. just east of 1st Avenue is cool now.” It was always a weird experience. I remember these places having a cooler with some soda for sale, and nothing else.

I can’t remember what I would ask, but they knew what I was there for, so they made it easy and quick and sold me a bag, and off I went.

I got turned onto a delivery service. It was called WeeDeliver. Groovy.

One would give them a call, and a dealer would show up with a backpack full of small bags of weed. It was pretty surreal considering that it was an open secret about them and that what they were doing was 100% illegal. It’d be hard to make a case that one had just dropped in when they were carrying dozens of little baggies of weed.

They also sold hallucinogenic mushrooms. Now this was a trip because I had wanted to do mushrooms for years. I had lived in Colorado and spent chunks of time throughout the southwest, where one might imagine they would score some mushrooms. I had my ears open, but in all my adventuring, I’d never found any mushrooms.

That is until one of the WeeDeliver guys showed up in my East Village apartment.

I bought some. That’s a story for another time.


I left the underground and the weed culture, the hunt for good quality marijuana without a bunch of seeds and sticks in the bag, a good sack for a good price, a long time ago.

Now, it’s in my face. I live in NYC where one smells marijuana all over the city. I got into a subway car last week and a guy was smoking weed. The next day on the subway when the doors opened at a stop we got a blast of weed smell from a guy smoking on the platform.

Now that it’s spring with more people out and about, people are smoking everywhere.

It’s much easier for me to avoid being around alcohol than it is to avoid being around marijuana these days.


And now…drum roll…it’s legal in New York! Or sort of legal. Fully legal? There’s been a weird stretch where it’s been legal to own and smoke marijuana, but not to sell it. Along with that is a blurring of the lines. Apparently, the legal cannabis products stores are also selling pot to get high with.

But now there are stores called “Dispensary.”

From dictionary dot com: Dispensary - “a place where something is dispensed, especially medicines.”

And the definition of Dispense: “to deal out; distribute.”

photo by Neal Hemphill

I don’t know about the technicalities of the legality of the marijuana business in New York, or anywhere else, except to say that I’m happy that the unfair incarceration system will stop jailing people of color for preposterously long sentences for marijuana offenses.

Of course, there’s also the societal implication of capitalism swooping in to make big money and all the influence and imbalance that brings.

Those are important discussions and considerations.

For me, however, it’s more personal, and my sobriety and safety are at stake.

If I smoked, I wanted to drink. And vice versa. And once I smoked and drank, I’d want some pills or some blow or some opium or some LSD or something else.

There’s a direct line for me from toking to utter despair and desperation.

The Dispensaries, and the weed in the air, are not a joke to me. When I smell pot smoke, it annoys me. Fortunately, it doesn’t entice me in the slightest. Yet. I need to be vigilant about it.

Feeling annoyed and somewhat threatened is not a good place to be either. I need to keep my equilibrium and stay focused on my well-being and have consideration for others.

Consideration. What a novel and quaint concept that is!


I think I needed to air this out a bit. I don’t have an overarching statement or anything, but I wanted to comment and talk about the influence that all of this can have on people who are committed - or trying to - abstain from harmful substances.

Your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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