COME AND SMOKE IT: Dispatch From the Dark Side in Texas

(Gillian Levine for Leafly)

Greetings from The Lone Star State, where I have resided for the better part of the last 10 years. All names and places have been (badly) changed in this story because where I live they still don’t take too kindly to folks getting stoned. If law enforcement is reading, this entire thing is one big work of fiction*.

Being a native son of the Great Pacific Northwest, I have had a long and storied relationship with my old pal marijuana. As a kid growing up on the not at all mean streets of a small town on the banks of Northern Puget Sound (let’s call it Dukilteo), I sold weed for the same reason that others of my age and economic status did; so that I could afford to smoke it. I would buy an ounce, split it into 8 semi-equal portions using the old eyeball scale (patent still pending), keep one for myself, and deliver the rest to friends. I didn’t know where it came from, and I didn’t even think to ask.

In a legal state? Find your closest dispensaries.

Not to go too Cool Old Guy on you (by all means, stay on my lawn) but I have been around long enough to witness the evolution of cannabis laws from a time when you would get kicked out of a smoke shop for saying the word “bong,” and the annual Hemp Fest in Seattle was considered a revolutionary idea, instead of the unattendable abomination it has become today.

In Texas we still live very much in the Dark Ages, where having options isn't an option, and indeed the only question you need (or can get) answered boils down to the very simple: Is it weed?

These days when you lucky residents of Free America walk into a pot shop on the corner (or find yourself on wonderful websites such as this one), you are inundated with so much information that it can be a bit overwhelming at times: names of various strains, their THC content, the date they were harvested, their lineage, and even the height of the actual plants. In Texas we still live very much in the Dark Ages, where having options isn’t an option, and indeed the only question you need (or can get) answered boils down to the very simple “Is it weed?”

If so, great. Let’s have at it and then afterwards head on down to Whataburger.

If not, well then I guess never mind. Would still go to Whataburger though, just saying.

In the Republic of Texas when it comes to obtaining marijuana, it’s very much as the saying goes; you take what you can get.

Now, there are definitely forces at work trying to change the system down here, and medical legalization in Texas isn’t quite the pipe dream (calm down) it once was. In fact it’s closer now than it’s ever been, and I for one couldn’t be happier about that. For a few years while I was living in Los Angeles, medical marijuana really helped me with my crippling addiction to regular marijuana.

But buying weed in Texas has always been something that has languished in the past, and every time I fly home to see my family in Seattle or take a road trip to Colorado, I walk into a dispensary and gaze in wide wonder at the panoply of flower, edibles, and oils that line the display cases. I treasure those moments spent in an alternate reality, and make a few modest purchases that I would obviously never attempt to take with me across state lines. That is as good as it gets for someone like me.

Or at least it was until very recently.

Enter Molly Jane’s

A few months back, my friend Stindy (why am I so bad at choosing fake names) told me she was picking up a little something and asked if I was in need. I have a strict policy of always saying yes to that question, as you never know from where your next opportunity will come down here, so I gave her the standard three thumbs up emoji and went about my day. Little did I know that when we met up later, I would be smack dab in the middle of motherfucking Weed Enlightenment.

When Stindy showed up later her face was glowing and her red eyes were wide with excitement as she told me what she had found that day. A dispensary. A fully functioning, fully stocked, fully West Coast pot shop, nestled into a small house on the east side of town. I was in understandable disbelief.

“Hand to God.” she said, as though that were something people were still saying these days.

Then she showed me the merchandise. Various strains, meticulously packaged and labeled, with all of the information y’all take for granted out there. All with the little insignia of Molly Jane’s stamped in the lower left corner. These people weren’t just selling, they were branding. There were also cookies and gummies and THC oil cartridges for DAYS.

The future had arrived in Texas. And this was just the beginning.

By mid-summer 2018, competing operations had opened up all around town, though none with the same panache and gumption as MJ’s, and as I write this in late August, the landscape is virtually unrecognizable. It is still deeply illegal down here, and will be for quite some time, but Texas residents finally have a glimpse of daylight. I can honestly say that almost everyone I know has a vape pen on them right now. It went from 0% to 100% saturation almost overnight. Whataburger for everyone!

I reached out to Deirdre for the purposes of this story, to see if I could potentially visit Molly Jane’s with her and maybe ask these local heroes a few questions about their motivations and methods, to really get a sense of their mission to bring weed to the people and she told me that their response was a clear and immediate

“Hell no.”

Which honestly is smart of them. I wouldn’t trust me either.

*Or is it? It is**.

**Is it?