Weed in DC brings a smile to my face more for the method of sales than the quality of product. The latter is fine, but the former is a lot of fun.
Spending some time in New York during the gap between legalization of cannabis and setting up legal sales of cannabis, I hear of “sticker stores” and grin. I’ve instant recognition of this model after experiencing a version of it a few times in Washington DC.
What’s a sticker store? It’s a store that sells stickers that come with free weed, basically. Thereby getting around the prohibition on sales of cannabis – which doesn’t exist for the gifting of cannabis. The actual sale is of the sticker.
Washington DC has never legalized its sales. They remain in a gray area now some eight years after they legalized cannabis possession and use, at time of writing. Weed in DC is still weird to procure.
DC was one of the first places that I wasn’t used to smelling like weed that suddenly smelled like weed. Now weed in DC is normal. Before this time there wasn’t a strong dominant smell to Washington DC, rather I associate it with old buildings.
I’ve been to Washington DC probably around ten times.
My dad took me to DC for my first visits. I was about twelve and learned about US history by taking it independently from my school – with him as my teacher. His teaching style was like my learning style, intermittent. We did go deep on certain subjects.
We also went to DC and visited congress (something about whales) and the Supreme Court (not in session), and all the great monuments and museums (Smithosonian). I took it for granted at the time, but what better way to learn about US history? He also went deep into the civil war. Pointed out how we were still living out that history as we do all of history.
I had other visits to DC that came after this, in the olden days when marijuana was very illegal there and weed in DC was on the dl and you didn’t smell it on the street. I remember loud bars and students and Georgetown. Making tofu with my best friend’s Japanese wife.
Some other trip, me showing the city to the Mad Scientist. Him an immigrant. Me noticing for the first time that monumental architecture and entertainment architecture have things in common. Lots of large stairs. High ceilings. Imposing entrances.
Another time I went through town was soon after Washington DC legalized cannabis. There were plants in people’s front yards. Plenty of weed in DC. Made me smile.
The trip afterwards was the one where I noticed that the Washington Monument is made from two different types of stone. The Plant Whisperer pointed it out after looking it up and realizing that this construction is a representation of the economic and social upheaval caused by slavery, and the end of slavery.
The monument was built with expensive stone and slave labor for six years, 1848 through 1854. Construction stopped due to lack of funding and the Civil War. When it began again, it was with cheaper stone and more paid labor. You can see it in the symbol of our Capital City. Built on slavery, still figuring out how to progress without it. Everywhere you look in DC you see white supremacy and the pardoning and eulogizing of slave owners.
The next time I’m in DC, I heard about the “sticker stores”, only I didn’t hear them called that. It was a good three years after legalization and the network of these stores had become robust and plentiful. The stores mostly sold stickers, yes. I remember pouring over the pricelist trying to match the various sticker sizes and packs to the cannabis products I wanted. It was a process that most certainly weeded out anyone who wasn’t committed and didn’t have a certain level of intelligence.
The end of that process, though, has me ordering cannabis concentrates and cartridges in advance of my visit to DC via texting on my phone.
I am to be in the DC area due to what we’ll call a conference for work. I read about the “buy a sticker, get some weed” model and then do some research.
I’m astounded by the range of products that have been paired with marijuana, and baffled that the easiest product pairing seems to be, indeed, stickers.
Weed in DC is sold with everything. I mean everything. Everything from cold press coffee extract to munchies to apparel to a full juice cleanse to music downloads to NFT’s is being sold with weed as a gift. It’s become a cool form of advertising for bleeding edge DC urban arts companies. A great way for your young, up and coming hip-hop stars, designers, and raw, vegan, keto, paleo chefs to get recognized and maybe even make a little money off the brand partnership. All hail Cannabis.
I’m sure if I lived in DC I’d take advantage of a range of product purchases, but this being a quick trip and me living out of a suitcase: I’m grateful that the basic option for buying weed in DC is the very portable and losable item: the sticker.
After getting a text that my order is available I take a train from the DC area to DC itself, and follow the instructions to show myself up into a hotel without stopping at the front desk. I note that it is a hotel with a fair number of people coming and going, mostly black, upper middle class people. Black culture is often less Karen-y about random people wandering up into the hotel so I view it as a good choice for discretion.
I knock softly at the door as instructed. I am let into a hotel room with a product array on each of the twin beds and boards with stickers representing products splayed across every surface that will support them. It’s no longer a hotel room so much as a makeshift dispensary.
Though I had to submit my order exactly, and it was difficult due to the use of stickers at various price points as a way to talk about the order – none of that matters now. It is indeed a customer filtering system more than an order system. I simply ask for what I want, which is a couple grams of live resin and two live resin cartridges, each of which come with their own battery.
There’s a clean-cut white guy handling the money. Exactly what I would expect, baggy clothes, chain around his neck, black baseball cap.
The woman handling the product is mixed race and pretty, with super long nails encrusted with nail art and jewels. It feels like being in a dispensary in any other city in the world. Until at the very end after I’ve paid they hand me my stickers with my change.
I remember walking through some park with a bust of George Washington as I unwrapped the cartridges and attached them to the battery and took a few pulls – my first cannabis in half a year. I’m just in the US for this conference and have been in the Middle East for months, then a quick stop in Iceland. Experiencing culture shock by being able to openly and use cannabis in a park, not that I’m sure if it’s legal, but personal use of weed in DC isn’t really enforced anyway so not bothered.
I ride the train back to my hotel room and leave the vape pen and the live resin there while I attend the work conference…
…which isn’t *quite* a conference. It’s LGAT – Large Group Awareness Training. It’s the signature live event for the personal development star that I work for. I’m used to an all remote business so already meeting my co-workers in person is very surreal after only seeing them from the waist up via Zoom for months. They are all shorter or taller and/or fatter or thinner than I expect. It’s like the fun mirrors at the carnival. Add into that some very fine cannabis and I’m in a circus in a parallel universe. Which kind of describes DC anyway.
Not that I would actually need to be high as the event is out of this world without any alterations or enhancements.
It’s a family religious roadshow meets corporate culture conference meets personal development seminar. There’s a lot of people, mostly from one family, wearing red, white, and blue. They remind me of congresspeople or airline attendants or both. We all blow our bad energy into red white and blue balloons to release into the room. Participate in various exercises. Listen to the brainwashing that will help us lead lives we love, but that we won’t be able to sustain without the added benefit of a paid program, the sales pitch for which is expertly woven into the conversation, honed smooth like a river rock over years of practice.
My company pulls in millions of dollars and I walk around high as shit and very dazed, taking pulls off my vape pen in my room at every break.
This remains the only time that work has ever paid for any travel or hotel rooms in my life. I enjoy the ritual. I always look at business travelers with some degree of envy, even though my style of travel has so much more freedom involved. There’s something so grown-up and sexy about business travel.
It is not, however, my first LGAT or personal development experience or first time being high in an already strange environment. Not my first circus rodeo in an alternate universe.
At one point the personal development star, who has placed me in the first row, looks at me to deliver this line:
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, find a different room.”
I won’t soon forget it.
The next time I am in DC is for the 2020 Presidential Election. Not on purpose. It just happens to be a cheap place to do a quick stopover. I figure it will be interesting to be there at that time.
It does end up being something of a political convention and/or circus that I can visit any time of day or night.
This time, it’s peak Covid in the US, so all weed in DC is being sold via delivery. I order some stickers and they come with some excellent live resin cartridges on the side. They’re even better quality than they were the first time I had them some two years hence. The order pulls up at exactly the time I have listed on the ticket. I reach into the guy’s vehicle for a paper bag on the passenger seat with my invoice/receipt stapled to it.
Quick and professional.
This time the order page doesn’t even really mention the sticker or any other product. There’s no convoluted weed to sticker pricing scheme to figure out. The name of the service is directly related to weed in DC instead of referencing design or stickers or raw, vegan, keto, paleo, print-on-demand, cold press coffee juice cleanses.
Usually the longer a system stays working in the gray area without getting busted, the grayer the system gets. This one is no exception, no more strict sorting of the market into those that can practice discretion. Now it’s on the driver to figure that out.
However, inside of the paper bag, alongside the order, are the required number of stickers to go with each cartridge. By the book, yo.
I get very high and walked down to the White House. The area in front of it is gated off. On the way I overhear some locals say that they never have seen the White House this fenced off, not even during 9/11. Most of the people out in front of the White House doing their weird political theater are anti-Trump. The few on the other side are met with scorn and sometimes violence. There is a heavy police presence.
Though it’s interesting, it’s not particularly comfortable so I don’t spend much time out there. It is strange to me to see how much of people’s mental illness gets funneled through politics.
There are some earnest people afoot. Lobbying for their cause – but by and large everyone out there is either a budding political influencer looking for press, or batshit crazy, or both.
There is drama in the air. It’s tense, and fraught. It doesn’t feel like a good idea to be wandering around a powderkeg. I have a hotel room on a high floor overlooking the fray.
Taking pull after pull on my vape pen with my live resin cartridge, I stare down over strange convoys of police cars and oddly costumed (handmaid’s tale?) political protests.
I wake up the next day dazed and still high from the day before. The winner of the election has not yet been announced. Most people go home anyway. Classic weed in DC.
I eat at a restaurant which maintains serious social distancing. The tables are minimized to one for each wall. They’re pushed against the walls of the room, and the server communicates from the center of the room. We all shout at each other, muffled by the masks we wear when we aren’t actively eating or drinking.
For one of my days I have someone to share my weed in DC with. I have a brief and fun encounter with a Nigerian American I meet on Tinder.
Businesses and storefronts have all been barricaded with wooden berms to stop people looting and pillaging I guess. Some have been boarded over after Covid lockdown closure. Some have been boarded over due to looting and/or protesting during recent uprisings against racial injustice. I chuckle when I see a guy skateboarding riding the steep wooden ramps that now line every street to protect the businesses. Doesn’t take long.
The streets are pretty empty due to the virus, yet still somehow it smells like weed. There are still electric scooters for everyone, lying unused. Four or five different competing brands. Multiple scooters per block, but no one on the streets. It reminds me of a strange apocalyptic rapture. All the humans taken up by aliens or angels at once, leaving behind their scooters and the everpresent smell of weed in DC.
Other posts about early legal weed and concentrates in the US: