I recently met a man in our dispensary who builds skyscrapers in Cincinnati. He started small, of course, building his business out of the back of his truck, but after a few decades of work, real work, he found freedom. He landed the type of life that allows him to fly to Durango on his private jet—a G6, like the one Pitbull raps about—to spend the weekend here just for the hell of it, buying a fistful of tickets for his friends so they could all ride that railroad of ours on a whim. And this man was carefree. He asked me if cameras were allowed (of course they are!), and then he asked his wife to take his picture. She shook her head slowly with disappointment, the way wives do, and she asked the man what would happen if his employees saw the picture, or worse yet, his mother. His answer sticks with me:

“This is how I party, and there’s nothing wrong with marijuana. I’ve worked hard my whole life to stand here holding this pot, and anybody who has a problem with it can go fill in the blank.

Such a statement sounds inelegant at first, but really, it’s a beautiful declaration of honesty and freedom. So, the man’s wife smiled in that long-suffering way that only comes from love, and then she took his picture. The man shook my hand, put thirty dollars in our tip cup, and then walked out with his bag of weed in one hand, his wife’s bejeweled fingers in the other.

And even more recently, I met four men in our dispensary who flew here together on their private jet from Houston. They were tall and gracile in their leather boots, laughing and slapping backs, and they looked like they came from old money, the kind that’s black and bubbled up in their grandparents’ backyard. The four men flew in for the snow, but when they couldn’t find any, they decided to get high instead. They walked into our dispensary and saw something kindred in me, I guess, because each man made sure to shake my hand and get my name. I sold them edibles and vape pens and a whole panoply of pot products, and I threw in a couple koozies for fun, thinking men from Texas might find them especially useful.

I went to the bar later than night with my wife and a few friends on one of those random trips out, and as soon as I walked into The Ranch, I heard a loud chorus of “Jesse!!!” from the back of the bar. Those four guys from Texas were standing around the pool table, holding up beers wrapped snuggly in koozies that said, “The Greenery.” I introduced them to my wife (she shook her head slowly at my new friends, the way wives do), and we played pool for a while, right before they jumped back on their jet for another trip to find skiable snow.

Look, I know I’m rambling, but the picture I’m painting for you here proves that “stoners” aren’t always what you’d expect. Yes, wooks exist and their hippie magic is frightful, but for the most part, people who smoke pot are just like people who don’t smoke pot. I kid you not, I’ve sold to priests and teachers and surgeons and diplomats, and if not for the fact that each of them stood in front of me and bought marijuana, it wouldn’t have been possible to tell they were stoners, as if being one were a bad thing in the first place.

So why is the term “stoner” still a negative thing? Is it thanks to the stigma the bad guys birthed to justify their righteously unjust war on drugs? Probably.

Don’t worry, I’m not gunna get all preachy and complain about the fallacy of prohibition, but I do want to address the anti-pot stigma that seems to be sticking around like a virulent flu. I think this might be the seventh time I’ve put it in writing, but marijuana is medicine, and if not for that pesky stigma, this medicine could help more people. From the sweet old lady with tired hands who could find reprieve from her arthritis with a cannabis salve, but doesn’t, to the stage-four cancer patient who could find relief with marijuana, but never does: there are plenty of people out there denying themselves something legal and effective simply because of the stigma. Doesn’t that suck?

And that same stigma stops some people from getting high recreationally too, you know, for no other reason than to feel abnormally good, and that’s a travesty too. Because guess what? Pot is awesome. It makes good days better, and it doesn’t come with a hangover. Most of us at The Greenery smoke the stuff loud and proud because we have more pressing matters to worry about than stigmas, but that’s a luxury. Not everybody lives in a place like this or has a job like this, and that stigma is heavier for them.

But I want you to know that we’re trying to fix that. There are real life badasses who toil here behind the scenes. They stay in the backrooms of our dispensary and they write letters and lobby law makers, and they do their damnedest to defeat that annoying “stoner” stigma we’ve been living with for years. I’m not making that up, even though it sounds a little cryptic; we even have a consulting service that helps people in other states figure out the legal weed game. Cool, right?

So, don’t worry. There’s no stigma in our shop. We won’t judge you for a damn thing when you walk in, even if you’ve been putting off your first experience with cannabis for seventy years (which is something I heard from a customer just last week). Our people are professional and forthright, and we do our best to break the “stoner” stereotype daily with our service, because We’re Your Best Buds!

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