Getting through college by selling cannabis

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*Source’s name has been changed to protect her identity “Knock knock.” Mary Jane* opens the door and invites the two people inside. She reaches for the Sour Patch Kids box and hands it over. Inside the box: four green, sticky nugs.

Mary is like any other college student. She works part-time, balances a full class schedule, gets stressed with school and of course indulges in Netflix.

Mary also juggles another activity not everyone knows about—she is a drug dealer.

A budding business

It was around this time of April one year ago that Mary started dealing. Her former coworker’s boyfriend sold weed and was successful in the business, which prompted Mary to do the same.

“I just decided to do it [and] I had friends who would benefit from it as well,” Mary said.

When Mary first started selling weed, she would purchase a set amount of weed from her dealer and then reach out to her friends to establish her initial clientele. As her clientele grew bigger, Mary would pick up even bigger amounts of weed to sell.

“It was basically like a supply and demand way of looking at it,” Mary said about first getting started as a dealer.

Mary started selling to her close friends who would then tell their close friends about her, and from there, her connections grew larger. One of those clients would buy ⅛—or 3.54 grams of weed—three times a week from her, which Mary charges $40.

She consistently buys weed from one dealer who she considers to be “big time.” Mary buys $100 worth of weed from her dealer and the type of weed she gets will depend on how many grams she gets for $100.

Every time Mary sells $100 worth of weed, she contacts her dealer to pick up more, whether she still has extra weed or not. Mary said she used to buy $200 worth of weed when she had clients who were consistently buying larger amounts from her. Lately, however, her clientele and their demand has been smaller than usual so she hasn’t been buying as much weed.

The weed she buys is usually higher quality and she in turn charges $12 a gram. Like any business-savvy person, Mary even has an incentive for people to become a regular client.

“I also do kind of like a ladder. The more you purchase, the better deal you get, basically,” Mary said.

A hazy situation

Being a drug dealer comes with a huge risk, especially in the state of Arizona where possession of marijuana without a medical card, and the sale of marijuana, can result in a felony charge. This hasn’t stopped Mary who keeps her clientele small for this very reason.  

“It’s always in the back of your mind … just the thought of somebody ratting you out or somebody just in general maybe being a little too gossip-y,” Mary said. “It comes to mind, but I’d be a little more worried if I was more big-time. But I’m very low-key.”

When she first started dealing, she used an app called Wickr for extra protection, which allows users to send messages under an anonymous username that will also be deleted permanently. Mary also makes sure her clients know that she’s not looking to expand significantly. Since selling weed, she has not had any close encounters or slip-ups.

Cashing on the green

For Mary, selling weed is like a part-time job, and what profit she makes goes to groceries or is stashed away as extra spending money. She even makes enough to smoke for free, but as she said before about her dealer, she isn’t “big-time.”

“I don’t make enough to where I’m rolling in dough,” Mary said. “Plus, I’m not going to overcharge my friends.”

Her weekly income varies week by week depending on the client. Some clients are more regular and others are more sporadic.

“It just depends because clients will come in and pick up once a week [and] sometimes they’ll pick up once every couple of weeks,” Mary said.

Being low profile allows Mary to be more flexible with her clientele, of whom many are close friends, while still making a small profit. Because of this setup, she sometimes even delivers to clients instead of making them come to her place.

“It helps with business to be super flexible. I lose less clientele, I lose less sales, too,” Mary said.

Mary has had some awkward and weird encounters with a few clients, but she laughs about it, crediting her laid back personality with being able to bear through such encounters. Overall, Mary said her clients are friendly, fun people and that she definitely has her favorites.

“I have some people who I have no problem sitting with for two hours and talking and drinking and smoking,” Mary said.

For Mary, being a female college student has not made her feel unsafe when it comes to dealing and even picking up from her supplier.

“I feel like being a female gives me an advantage sometimes,” Mary said.

Meghan is a pug enthusiast interested in social justice, environmental issues, Latin America and women’s rights (both here in the U.S. and around the world). When she’s not worrying about postgraduate plans, Meghan binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jane the Virgin. She’s still uncertain about the career path she will pursue after graduating, but would like to work in international development and public policy one day. Until then, she’ll keep watching videos of Doug the Pug while sipping whatever bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon is on sale.