“You looking for some?” Brenda typed.
“Yes,” the man replied. Then, they set up a time to meet.
Brenda didn’t realize they were talking to a married man, but that didn't matter. By “some”, they didn’t mean anything sexual; as their bio clearly stated, the married man simply wanted a little weed. However, Brenda (not their real name) deserves a lot of credit. Just a few months before this fortuitous swipe-and-sell, the Dallas dealer would have been too scared to sell weed to a stranger. Now, they were engaging new clientele via Tinder.
“This product is needed by a lot of people; they just don’t have access to it,” Brenda says. “And I kind of stumbled upon some access. So who am I to not take advantage of that?”
Flashback to early March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has yet to reach American soil, and Joe Biden is just one of many Democrats vying for his party’s presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Brenda is growing tired of getting their weed from “a friend of a friend of a friend,” and their roommate’s new partner had a hook-up.
“They asked me if I ever thought about selling, and to be honest, I hadn’t,” Brenda says over the phone in November. “I thought it was too dangerous and bad and scary. But then I start really thinking about it, and I’m like, ‘You know what? Why not?’ I’ve had other side businesses and side hustles. My job has never been financially lucrative, and so many of my friends need a source. Now, here’s someone saying, ‘You can be the source.’”
Brenda started selling weed just as the pandemic was intensifying. At first, they only sold to friends. Then, it was friends of friends. Finally, they got comfortable enough to sell to a smattering of strangers and the occasional Tinder match. They became the friend of a friend of a friend, but they were reliable. Still, of the four weed dealers interviewed for this story, Brenda was by far the greenest. They’ve been in the game less than a year, and they’re still getting comfortable. Yet despite their differing ages, backgrounds and levels of experience, each of these entrepreneurs had one thing in common: they were all really happy that Joe Biden won.
There are a few reasons for this unbridled, holy-shit-I’m-so-glad-he-won brand of joy. First, Democrats have a reputation for being relatively open-minded about cannabis. Second, Biden has shared that he wants to decriminalize and “reschedule” marijuana, which, like heroin, is currently a Schedule I drug. Rescheduling weed would ostensibly mean admitting that it does, in fact, have some medicinal value. But there is a third and far more basic reason why Biden’s victory is giving weed dealers some cause for celebration: People will be a little less stressed out.
“Trump was a disaster for me and for my friends,” Brenda says. “We were stressed all the time. Just from a single tweet, we would worry if we’re going to war.”
Fellow weed dealer Sid (also not their name) has a similar reasoning.
“Look, people start selling weed because the money is good,” they say. “But I firmly believe that most weed dealers also do it because they care about the people they’re selling to. I could give a fuck about which old white dude is in the office, but if it means my clients are a little less worried, a little less scared, well, shit, what kind of person wouldn’t want that for someone they know?”
It’s a chilly November day in Dallas, and Sid is working the phones, trying to reach their supplier in Oregon.
“They’re pretty happy up there, because they just decriminalized drugs,” Sid says. “But me? I’m like, ‘Fuck, this is 2020. Y’all a little late on that one.’”
As you may be able to tell, Sid has the mouth of a sailor and the temperament of a grizzled grandparent who doesn’t like that you are on their lawn. They started selling drugs roughly three years ago, and back then, their inventory included more than weed.
“Trump was a disaster for me and for my friends ... We were stressed all the time. Just from a single tweet, we would worry if we’re going to war.” Weed dealer Brenda
“I messed with the pill game for a bit, but you can get involved with some pretty unusual characters that way,” they say. “I got myself in some sticky situations, and that’s all I’ll say.”
So now they stick to marijuana. When the pandemic arrived, Sid saw a lift in business. Normally, extra profit would make an entrepreneur pretty happy. Yet Sid was torn.
“Some people would tell me about all the shit they were going through, and my heart would break, man,” they say. “They’d be like, ‘I got laid off,’ or, ‘I’m just really worried about my kid getting the virus.’ And I’m standing there like, ‘Shit. You sure you want this weed?’”
They’d always say yes.
“Those are the moments where I remember I’m giving my clients something that’s going to make them feel better,” Sid says. “But there were many times where I had to be like, ‘No, you don’t need to be spending your stimulus check on this. Save that money for grandma or something.’”
Many weed dealers are quick to make a key distinction. Yes, they are business owners, but they’re also human. They often develop friendships with their clientele. And as the 2020 presidential election neared its end, weed dealers saw their friends become increasingly anxious. One such dealer, Nancy (definitely not their real name) noticed that one client, in particular, was struggling with the prospect of a Trump win.
“She bought an eighth the Monday before the election, and I could see she was just so nervous,” Nancy says. “She just looked really tired, and when she smiled, I could tell it was forced. So when they finally announced the Biden win, the first person I thought of was her. I bet she’s really happy right now.”
These weed dealers are also practical. They know a Biden presidency won’t immediately alleviate all of the stress and anxieties of modern life. However, they hope the president-elect can get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. To Sid, Nancy and Brenda, a “flattening of the curve” is far more important than rescheduling weed.
“I think the way Trump handled the pandemic led to more mental health issues,” Brenda says. “Marijuana can actually be helpful in that regard. I know some people who have tried weed for the first time during the pandemic because, ‘Why not?’ and we know for a fact it helps with anxiety.”
In other words, Brenda realizes that the demand for weed isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Nevertheless, they’re not sure how much longer they’ll be in the game. They want to go back to school soon, and if some form of weed eventually becomes legal in Texas, Brenda knows they will be squeezed out of the competition by companies with resources, business savvy and no need to use Tinder as a conduit.
“I’m not going to be mad about that,” Brenda says. “I don’t foresee a place like Texas making it legal statewide, but if it happens, it happens. This was always going to be a temporary thing. I’m making some extra cash right now, and that’s nice, but I know it’s not going to last forever.”
On the other hand, The Capitalist isn’t going anywhere. In June, this successful weed dealer revealed that they have “big plans” for eventual expansion. Ultimately, they want to employ a “seed to sale” business model, meaning they control both growth and distribution. Months later, those plans remain intact, even if his business has slumped just a little bit.
“Demand is a little below regular levels,” they say, “but I’m not worried. It’s still cheaper to buy an eighth than it is to get a prescription.”
When asked how they feel about states like Arizona and New Jersey legalizing weed, The Capitalist gets excited. The dealer has spent years accumulating the capital and the acumen for legal expansion, and now it appears that time is coming.
“I have all the necessary tools and resources to become successful in the legal game,” The Capitalist says. “I’ve been playing the long game, so this is good for me.”
Part of them feels a bit bitter, though. For decades, the private prison industry has profited off the backs of marijuana users, they explain. And now hedge funds and corporations get to come in, sell their trendy weed gummies and grab a slice of the pie? The Capitalist's pie? The Capitalist isn’t surprised (see: their name), but still has a sour taste in their mouth. Nevertheless, The Capitalist is an optimist. And as for Biden’s win? They're really happy about that, too.
“I think he’ll turn down the temperature a bit,” they say. “Now, will that have an adverse impact on the market? I don’t think so. People have enough stress going on every day. When Obama was president, there was still war, there were still really big problems the country was having to tackle. But I think things are looking up, and we deserve that. The country deserves an exhale.”