Our theme for February is actually a challenge: write a piece without using first person pronouns (I, me, we, etc.)
“I just… walk in?”
“They check your ID at the door, but yeah. Just walk in.”
“I don’t like this. You go first.”
They show their driver’s licenses. Washington then Michigan, and they step into the tanged, herbed smell of marijuana.
“It’s…. It’s like a liquor store,” she whispers. “But nicer.”
“So you just walk up and say, like—” she juts out her jaw and frowns— “I want some weed, bro.”
“I want some dank weed, bro.”
Bongs and pipes and cover the walls. Its own stained glass.
“How many kinds do they have?” she angles herself as if to hide her question from the cashiers.
“It’s a whole industry.” He shrugs. “It’s like asking how many kinds of alcohol there are.”
“Fair. I guess.”
“It’s easiest to just ask ‘em. They’re used to it. They’ll figure out a good type for you.”
She takes an exaggerated breath and plunges toward the counter. He waits while they talk. The cashier: late thirties, slacks and a button-up. A thin beard and no visible tattoos. She laughs a few times. Nervous, but a little excited. The cashier reaches beneath the counter and sets a glass bottle on the counter.
She pays with a debit card and keeps the receipt.
Another mile down the road, ten-foot-tall green letters shout 21+ MARIJUANA to every northbound vehicle on Martin Luther King Jr Way. The arrow that runs beneath the letters points across the street to a stubby building marked by a green cross. Recreational Marijuana! Locally grown! hangs in the front window.
Move north to Uncle Ike’s Pot Shop on Union and 23rd, more like an Apple Store than a liquor store. A glass front wall, a minimalist white-on-black aesthetic. Six black-clad employees stand behind the counter: five Millennials and one Gen-Xer. Waiting in line and flipping through the store’s six-page catalogues:
a grandmother with short-cropped hair and a hoodie,
a bald man in a suit,
a middle-aged Asian couple holding a map of Seattle,
a handful of college students with a purple UW embroidered into their clothes.
“Is this enough?”
“Just give me the twenty. I’ll give you change.”
He hands the bigger bill to his sister.
“What you want?”
“Whatever’ll get me messed up.”
She grins. A little slyly, imagining the options.
“This is so bullshit,” he mutters as she leaves the car. “No one waits for twenty-one.”
“Only another year!”
He calls after her: “Can you get some weed, too? It’s right next door.”
“Indica. But one with a body load.”
She nods and skips into the gas station.
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Legal marijuana sales in 2013 totaled $1.5 billion.
$2.7 billion in 2014
$5.4 billion in 2015.
“Yeah, but you need a green card. Wait, no, that’s immigrants. Not a green card. A medical card?”
“No, anyone can buy it.”
“I don’t think so.”
“I live there, man. Anyone twenty-one or older.”
“That’s messed up. What do the cops do?”
“What? It’s legal.”
“Yeah, but… don’t they, like, try to stop people from using it?”
“I mean, you can’t smoke in public, but that’s it. It’s legal. No different than alcohol.”
“But it’s marijuana!”
“It’s bad marijuana here, but over there it’s just… marijuana.”
“No. That doesn’t work. That’s not good!”
Westlake Park, that half-block space in the heart of Seattle, always smells of weed.
Weed from the homeless people who perpetually congregate. Weed from the teenagers who loiter by the fountains. Weed from the tourists and the college students and the young professionals on their lunch break.
“I don’t have a problem with it, I just don’t like it. Personally, I mean.”
“That’s cool, man. You mind if I still…” he gestures to the joint.
“No, go for it. I like the smell.”
He lights and inhales. Coughs once. Inhales again. “So what don’t you like about it, man?”
“It just makes me dumb and lazy. And I always get afterburnt the next day.”
“I know, right? All the bad parts and none of the good.”
“You aren’t missing that much, to be honest.” He taps ash off the edge of the porch. “It’s just nice sometimes.”
NPR called Josh “a modern-day Jack Kerouac” after he wrote about his 7,000-mile, no-money hitchhiking journey through the United States. Since hitchhiking, he’s found homes in the Pacific Northwest, the Episcopal Church, and the post calvin. He builds websites as the director of Branded Look LLC. Josh’s writing has appeared in places such as The Emerson Review, Front Porch Review, and Perspectives.