Pubdate: Thu, 24 Mar 2016
Source: Portland Mercury (OR)
Column: Cannabuzz
Copyright: 2016 The Portland Mercury
Author: Josh Jardine


EVEN REGULAR READERS of this column-all five of you-may not realize I 
have a "day job." I know this may come as a shock, as there are few 
careers more secure and lucrative as those in the newspaper industry. 
That's why there are hundreds of children each year who dream of 
growing up to be a weed columnist. (Please do not tell me it is otherwise.)

My day job also involves weed-surprise!-although I don't grow it or 
sell it. But what I do with it caught the attention of 1859, an 
Oregon-based magazine, as they were preparing their first feature on 
cannabis. They called me for an interview to talk about how 
legalization has impacted Oregon. We chatted, and I suggested some 
more folks who might help them with their article.

A couple of days later, I got an email from the magazine's art 
director. "I have a potentially tacky question to ask," she wrote. 
"Would you be willing to help us gather up some marijuana for our 
photo shoot? We need both full plants and buds. We can't pay you, but 
we would be happy to give a credit to you and the farms."

"So you're seeking a weed wrangler?" I asked.

"Exactly!" came the response.

I'm not gonna front-this is the job I've been dreaming of since I was 
18. (Sorry, Oregon Liquor Control Commission, I mean since I was 21.)

We worked out the particulars; the shoot would take place at a condo 
in the Pearl with "great light." The photographer and her assistant 
confessed to being very light smokers, and asked that I also bring 
along "things a weed smoker would use."

"Like a PlayStation 4 and a cheesecake?" I asked.

No, actual things that a budtender would need: tongs, chopsticks, 
large glass jars, and a particular kind of pipe.

The first step was to procure the weed, so I called five friends who 
grow for the medical and recreational programs. Some are large farms, 
some are medium sized, and one's a small grower who had just started 
his operation.

I asked each of them each to bring a freshly cut branch of flowers 
and several dried strains of bud that were particularly photogenic. 
For our rendezvous, the growers agreed to meet me at my neighborhood 
coffee shop. Each walked in with a freshly cut branch of swollen, 
crystal-filled flowers stuck in a jar of water. And a clanking bag of 
glass jars filled with dry buds. One brought me a cardboard box 
nearly collapsing under the weight of the 40 mason jars inside, each 
containing a different strain.

Then there was the matter of the smell. Dear god, the smell. The 
baristas' eyes grew wide from the scent, long before they saw the 
source. "Is someone smoking a joint in here?" asked one.

I confessed and showed her the branch. "Can I hold it?" her coworker wondered.

Customers gathered around the counter. "Is that real? I've never seen 
one in, like, real life."

"It's so bright and sparkly!"

I had similar experiences on my way to the photo shoot. As I got in 
and out of the car, passersby stopped me, meekly asking if they could 
hold a branch and inhaling deeply. "And this is legal, right? I'm not 
going to get a ticket for holding this?" asked a middle-aged man.

Only one person raised their eyebrows in a judgmental way-the woman 
with whom I shared the elevator in the fancy Pearl condo where the 
shoot took place. She offered a dramatic sniff and a scowl. I gave 
what I hoped was a warm smile.

"You know that the smoking of... anything... isn't allowed in the building?"

I explained I was just providing some cannabis for a photo shoot, 
with no plans to consume. No sooner had I said it than the doors 
opened on my floor, where the photographer stood waiting for me, one 
arm holding a camera bag and tripod, the other fully occupied by a baby.

"You must be our weed wrangler!" she said.

The woman on the elevator slowly shook her head as the doors closed behind me.
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