Archive for February, 2013

C, 28

Filipino, cool, confident, online marijuana equipment supplier

Marijuana is the savior

I’ve been active in the industry for about four years, the legal marijuana industry. Mostly through accessories, which is apparel, water pipes, and things like that. As I seen the demand growing, this is why I got into selling accessories. You know, everyone’s getting their recommendation cards and that means more people want different ways to smoke it. I would say people are starting to come out of the closet and be proud it, so why not offer apparel, better methods of using the marijuana, and everything from grinders to lighters, to everything.

As like everyone I know, I would say 95% of all my friends grew up around marijuana. Everyone in Southern California knows someone who is using marijuana. It is just a part of Southern California culture. Somebody knows somebody, so why not try it? Now you hear professors using it, law enforcement opening dispensaries. Really? Oh yeah, it goes deep. If everyone’s doing it by the book, there is nothing wrong with it.

The first time I smoked it, I was 13 years old in middle school and everyone’s doing it. The quality of marijuana was real different. We would call it “swag,” because it was darker and had sticks and seeds. We smoked it out of a garden hose attached to a makeshift pipe (laughs), and I remember it didn’t feel good. It gave me a real bad headache almost, but it was only for about a minute or two. I’m wondering why people use this stuff, but as I got older and learned a lot more, I started finding better quality marijuana. People found ways to grown it differently and it would put you in a different state of mind. That’s why I can see people pushing it towards healthcare.

After a little while of smoking, I took a long break. Why? Because it wasn’t legal then and I didn’t want any legal troubles. I know too many people with legal troubles, so I learned from my friends. I have a clean record, everything is clean cut, and I didn’t want something like that ruining it. You would always hear stories like, one joint can get you ten years in jail, people getting screwed over by the system, its their word against yours, you can’t trust them, and corruption, so it’s best to play it safe and not get involved.

I had a friend who had gotten his recommendation, he was telling me the process, and I was like, “Hey I’ll try it, I miss it.” Plus I had a condition, Petalia Formal Syndrom, which is a random sharp pain in my left leg. I couldn’t keep taking Tylenol for the pain, so why not try some other pain remedy? Two days later, I called Medicar in Ocean Beach and asked what the process was. They asked what the condition and if I had proof of it, so I got the records from my doctor, showed them that, did a whole physical check up, and they gave me my recommendation. That’s exactly what it is, a recommendation. The doctors recommend that you should take marijuana for your condition. I then gave them 80 bucks and got a photo ID card and a notarized paper. The whole process took about two hours, now it’s five minutes.

A lot of shops do it differently, but the main thing is that it is a donation (we both laugh). Thats the loophole for California, it’s not selling pot for cash, it’s all non profit. Everything is donated. When you go to a dispensary for the first time, you have to go through a registration process. I’d say it’s about six pages of yes and no questions like don’t sell it to anyone, don’t use it in the parking lot, and keep it in a closed bag if you have it in your car. You also have to let the people in the dispensary if you are with someone. And so you fill out the paperwork and you wait about fifteen minutes, then they let you in. All the dispensaries are pretty busy, I would say on an average day they have about 300 customers or patients (laughs) a day.

With all the legal dispensaries, the dope boys must be hurting….
Oh yeah. That’s what the dispensaries are for, to take it off the black market, to take it off the streets, to have safe access. The marijuana in the streets is blended with stuff and it is not grown properly. The dispensaries have rating systems and labs to test if it grown in specific soil, the THC ratings, and CBD ratings. It’s regulated.
When you go to buy your weed the first time at a dispensary, you are just amazed at all of this marijuana you will see. I’m talking pounds of it. And not just bud, but different types of food, lotion, soap, you name it, they have it. You don’t even have to smoke it! Being in the marijuana industry, it’s a true counter culture. People trade receipes…it is a fun industry to be in. Next month, The High Times Cannabis Cup is coming to LA for the first time. It’s getting big.

Can you smoke at the conventions?
If you have you have your medical card you can. They’ll be places outside setup, but most of the time you’ll see people eating it, taking pills. I would say 60% of the people smoke it and 40% take it alternative ways by eating, lotions, and sprays like banacha.

In California, everything comes from up north. Thats were the good stuff is grown – The Green Triangle and everything flows down south. Coming from San Diego and hearing about the good stuff in LA, I went to a dispensary and found that they had a promotion: If you bought so much weed, you would get a pipe. I got the pipe and it was okay, really didn’t like it so I sold it. I could not believe the amount of interest in the water pipe, so when I saw the demand, marijuana getting legal, more and more people want items to smoke with, and right there, I knew people would want to buy this stuff. It clicked right there, people are going to want everything that is related to marijuana – shirts, hats, smoking tools. From there I applied for the business license, told them I was doing cannabis themed clothing, water pipes for medicimal use, and everything legally. It’s been a fun ride.

For more, pick up Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into American drug culture on March 6, 2013 at Amazon.com

Susan, 36

Caucasian, smart, reflective, drug counselor

If you want to change, you will
have to do it for yourself

            I have always liked talking to people. I am the oldest cousin, so my younger cousins always liked talking to me and from that, I think I was drawn to working with kids and helping people. Originally I was going to school for physical therapy, but at that time it was really hard to get into school. I was on a waiting list three years in a row and I just decided that it was not meant to be, so I decided on something else.

My first job as an undergrad I worked at a drug and alcohol treatment center in Santa Barbara. It is very beautiful, but such a tourist spot. I have heard from a couple of people that it has the most bars per square inch (laughs). Man I need to live there. What would frustrate me about working in Santa Barbara is that when a crime is reported by the newspapers, it was in a way not to deter tourists. For example, if there was a rape that happened two blocks from State Street, they would report it happening on the West Side, because when people would read West Side, East Side, they would think of the gangs. So the newspapers would report it like that to not deter tourism. It’s probably like that in a lot of tourist spots. All my patients were probation kids mandated, very few were voluntary and most were drug related. What was interesting is that often when it was a mandated program and when they are not ready to stop using drugs, they will switch to alcohol because it is out of your system quicker. So they will go drinking on Friday night and test clean on Monday, whereas coke, meth, especially marijuana, you have the chance to test dirty on Monday.

The sessions with the kids were always after school. I would have two programs: The first one would be an early 45 minute group then a 45 minute acupuncture. The acupuncture is to decrease cravings and improve relapse prevention, which is a really cool aspect of the program. It exposes them to an alternative way of recovery.  The kids would also get acupuncture seeds sometimes for the weekend, and it was great for me because I got free acupuncture (laughs). A lot of kids were either against it or nervous about it and didn’t think that it would work. They were just not open to it. But it is a proven and some kids really liked it, and if they had a headache, or stress, or anxiety, we would give them extra points.

In Santa Barbara, marijuana was one of the most popular drugs. Meth had increased and there were different opiates. Most of the kids in the program were on probation and had tested out, some for possession and some for intent to sale. About 20% of the kids were out of drug court and had to come. They were the most intensive. In Santa Barbara for boys, they have a camp and you just get sent away anywhere from four to six months like prison.

When I would run a group, there would be many different topics such as stress management, relapse prevention, and recognizing triggers. We would walk around the neighborhood and I would give them post-its to write down things that could potentially trigger them to use. That made them aware of how many triggers there are, how many things they can associate with using. From McDonalds when they would get the munchies to just drawing their attention to the cravings.

Everyday was different. A couple of days a week I had two groups with about eight to twelve kids. Monitoring a group that size is always tough because of the different personalities. Just the sign in sheet alone would take awhile (laughs). Some of the kids would make their “B’s” look like “13” because of the letter “M” and the association of the Mexican Mafia. They would cross out Eastside, Westside and letters of the other gangs. So like if they were Eastside, a kid would cross out all the “W’s” and “G’s”. Anytime I see something like this I would tear up the sign in sheet. There would also be issues with what the kids wore and if it signified gangs. If a kid wore a North Carolina hat, he was from the Ninth Street Carpas and if someone had a Green Bay hat, it meant they were with the Golina gang. So sometimes in the beginning it was baby sitting because teenagers would test your boundaries. When I first got there, the person whose group I had taken over had no boundaries. She would take them outside and smoke cigarettes with them, so when I came in, all of that stopped. At first it was tough, but as time went on it got easier.

Any one situation get hairy?

Well, just the kids on their way to see me it would be an event. Sometimes they would get shanked in the hallways and get into gangfights. A lot of the fights were mainly due to drugs and the gangs controlling them in prison. Thats something that I had to get used to.

For more, pick up, “Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into drug culture in America on March 6, 2013 at Amazon.com

Carolyn, 44

Shoulder length blonde hair, street smart, customer service

                                  I didn’t get arrested, I got rescued

I’m a military brat, so it’s really hard to claim where I am from, but I claim Minnesota. And yes, I am a Viking fan. When will I ever learn (laughs). I have been in San Diego most of my life, 28 years. My Father was in the Coast Guard and by the time I was in high-school, I had 16 different addresses, so it was a little difficult as a kid. Wow. Yeah, but whats funny is that I have been to counselors and they said that I am a major adjuster (laughs). So I figure, I can adjust to anything, from having nice things to uh, having nothing. I can adjust really well to my circumstances more than a regular person.

Growing up, moving around a lot was difficult because you meet people and then your leaving, and then next thing you know, you are the new kid again and again. I think that got harder on me because you never had a ground. It is difficult for a kid. My Mother…. both my Mother and Father are recovering alcoholics (sighs). My Father got into recovery when I was 12 or 13 and my Mother a year later. So there is a genetic disposition right there.

I witnessed a lot of abuse between my Mother and Father. My Brother is five years younger than me and even though he received some psychological abuse, he slept through most of it. Growing up in that environment, there was a lot of embarrassment , a lot of fear. A lot of times I was afraid to go home because I did not know what was going to happen. I remember walking home and seeing my Dad and his cousin riding the motorcycle, and all the neighbors are looking out of their windows and I am thinking, “Oh God!” The abuse went on until the military told him, “Either get together or get out.” So he went somewhere, Great Lakes somewhere for treatment, extensive treatment for like six to eight weeks. Later on in the summer, my Mom went in at that point. I really didn’t realize that she had a drinking problem.

After they got out of treatment, they started to take notice of me (laughs). Because I had pretty much did everything on my own, but when they got out, they started taking interest in my grades and stuff. I was like, “Okay..” Suddenly I was like, “I have parents now!” And after that, it was all AA. If I had to hear another word about AA, I was going to throw up! It was just…..Their drinking was their problem. I figured it’s your problem, you deal with it.

In Minnesota, it’s more drinking, more alcohol socialization. There are drugs, but drinking is the biggest thing though. I always said that if I had stayed out there, I would have been an alcoholic instead of a drug user. Heck, when I moved to California, that was the first time I ever drank or used anything. But hey, it was my age too. I was fifteen.

First time I smoked pot I was 15. Then after that, it was before school, after school, during break, during lunch (laughs), it was just…. it. After that I became a major stoner. One day, I think I was about 17, 18, someone had offered me a line of crystal. So before I went to do it, the person said, “Wait, this isn’t like anything you have ever done.” I told him that I done coke and crack, but he said, “This is different,” and yeah it was a lot different. I was nothing that I was used to and I was hooked right from the start.

 What was so different about crystal?

It was a longer high. I was more alert, more confident. In the 80’s, the dope was so much different than today’s stuff.

In the 80’s, they used ephedrine, but now you can’t just go get it. You have to get it from the pills and all that. Back then, The Hells Angels had uh… it was theirs. Now you can’t get all the products here in California anymore. Now it’s all about the super labs. The Cartels have taken it over from the bikers. They are finding them in the jungles of Mexico. During the drought season of about 2007, you couldn’t find anything anywhere. That’s when The Cartels took over.

After I started to use crystal, I got sent to continuation school and that helped my use. Continuation school is where a lot of kids from really bad neighborhoods and really bad families went. They were all drop out kids, screwed up backgrounds and all that. School wasn’t really taken seriously. After class, we would party. My crystal use was a party thing, not something to get by. When I look back on it, I really didn’t belong. I should have been in night school, but I wanted to go to school with kids my own age. After I finished school, I met my sons Father when I was 19 and that’s when everything changed. That’s when I started using more.

See back in the day, the dope used to have red phosphorous in it, so we would call it “Agent Orange,” and it smelled. Shortly after I get pregnant with my son, I stop using. Two weeks after I have him, I couldn’t wait to use. Damn. Yeah, I threw myself on the couch and just came down.

After having my son, I had hit my first rock bottom. I voluntary checked myself into a county funded facility. I wasn’t going to go to no shelter, so I went to this institute and it was about a two to three week detox, which is where I also met my now husband. He had been working at this sober living house I was staying at, working off his community service. I would get rides from him and we both realized we were backwards the same way (laughs). His father was a cop and if you know anything, you know cop kids are bad. Why? Because the kids grow up believing that everyone’s a dirt bad and that you do not trust anyone, especially since his Dad was a old school cop, okay. Back then, to be a cop depended on how big and bad you were, and you had to be the man of the family and everything else, so he grew up with that. When I met him, he had eight months clean, but I am sure he was still smoking weed. That’s what they called the “Marijuana Maintenance Program.” A lot of people just smoke weed to get through shit (laughs). We started hanging out and I think we got married probably a year and a half later. And we strived, we really did good. We got the toys, the place to live, and we had a daughter. And then, shit just started going bad in my husbands life. His Mother got brain cancer and he didn’t take it well. My husband had two years clean and he just lost it, started back using, smoking crystal meth.

For more, pickup Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into on American drug culture February 27, 2013 at Amazon.com

cover1

It is almost here….

In the beginning of 2012, it was pretty rough for the kid. I lost my job and my girl all in the same week. Crazy right? So like any artist, I threw myself into my work, vowing complete Straight Dope. Hemmingway once said, “A writer is at his best when he is in love,” but this Missouri boy says, “A writer is at his/her most productive when he/she doesn’t have anything to do or anybody” LOL. After listening to the interviews and transcribing them, (which was no joke), writing spoken word pieces, and finding the right quotes to go along with each chapter, I was done.

It is a trip to look at your finished work and say, “Wow, it is done. I did it! I cannot believe I finished it.” I, LeRon L. Barton, young man from Southside Kansas City, child of Gisele and LeAndrew, brother of Brent, fan of the 49ers’ (yeah!), X-Men, and Snoop Dogg wrote a book. I was really proud of myself. So now all I had to do was get it out to folks.

I cannot tell you how many query letters I sent out to agents. Maybe 30 to 40. I mean I was on a mission. I’m thinking to myself, “This is a numbers game, somebody has got to like my shhhh right?” Well, what I found out quickly is that writing is a business, and the subject of addicts and drug selling isn’t the easiest sell. I mean I could have went with something cuddly like children or more women oriented (which there is nathan wrong with that), but I am an artist! I want to write what I want to write and create what I want to create (while I am on my artist soapbox, “All We Need Is Love,” a book about relationships, marriage, and dating is coming later this year. Yeah, I know….). The kicker came when I received some positive feed back from an agent that said something to the effect of, “You have a great idea, but publishing is a business (Really? Word? Tell me something I don’t know..) and in order for us to move forward, you would have to have a great social media presence in the thousands….” yada yada. So while I was pumped that an agent liked my idea, I sat back and thought. “So you want me to put in the leg work, build up my brand, get my book out, and then you will take it from there. Sign me to a crazy mediocre deal and thats that?” Okay look, (and I am ’bout to get real hood here, so buckle up) I am not a prostitute and you are not my pimp. You want me to do all the work and eat better than me? Sorry, Gisele didn’t raise no fool.

I thought about the deal and the possibility, but then realized that there are sooooo many cats going independent, grinding on their own, and making it, so I said  thanks, but no thanks. The kid is putting it out by himself. There is this thing, you might have heard of it called The Internet and I see people taking their power and destiny into their own hands and releasing their own stuff. I had planned on going this route if I didn’t hear from a agent in a certain period of time, but I said, “Why wait? Lets just do it now.” So I did.

The main reason why I created Mainline Publishing is to be able to release projects that I want to. Works that maybe controversial or out of the ordinary, thats what I want to put out. It was never about the grip, it was, is, and always will be about FREEDOM. The freedom to do what I want to. And the first project will be called Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into American drug culture. I am going to do what ever I can to make sure this project is a success. I am in it to win it! I told myself that I am going to put my all into this. I am going for broke, real talk.

You have no idea how much I think about how I can get Straight Dope out there. I am literally waking up with this on my mind. When I came back from my backpacking trip, my wonderful friend Alicia said, “LeRon, you are more serious.” And I was. All the bs had been cleared from my mind and I only had one goal, get this book off.

So here we are. Straight Dope is going to be released on February 27, 2013. And I am gonna do whatever I can to make sure you know about it. I am in a Denny’s on a Friday night typing this, so you know I am serious. Buckle up, cause it is gonna get ugly.

Early!

LeRon

Image

Need to smile more……

After posting on Craigslist for a couple of weeks, I received my first response: A young couple who had experiences with drugs and were in treatment. I became really excited – there was some motion here! The first initial meet went pretty good, but it was ackward. I did not have a tape recorder, didn’t know what questions to ask, and was kinda nervous. Here I am, writing a book on drugs and having to ask people about a point in their life that they are trying to get passed. During the first meet, as I am feverishly trying to write everything that was said, the young lady interrupted and said, “Sweetie, you may want to get a tape recorder.” Ha! Thats how “green” I was. And within the next couple of days, I purchased a digital one (technology. I remember the ones with just tapes……).

The first interview went really well. Stories and tales of this and that were flowing. I wanted to make sure that they were as comfortable as they possibly could and also that they were in a “No judgment zone.” I am here to listen, not pass judgments or say anything negative about your life. After the 2 + hours of the interview, I was spent, but so pumped. I had been listening to two stories of drug abuse, heartache, and redemption. I thought to myself, ” I have look at something happy or light. This became a pattern after I would talk to people and their stories that were very negative and sad. There were times after an interview with someone, I would have their story on my mind for a long time. Even now, some of the stories are sticking with me.

In writing the book, to gain trust with some of the people, I told them that anything criminal or that could get them prosecuted, I would omit or change some of the details. I am not a police officer and I am not trying to send any one to jail. Some of the stories were real like that! At one point, I asked one of the participants about a crime and there was something said that I cannot print and we moved on quickly. Another point was that anything that was really sensitive or involved others, I did not add. I remember talking to someone and they revealed something that happened to a family member during their story. I stopped the tape recorder and looked out into the sky, as to assess what was told to me. There was a long moment of silence and I then told her, “I am not going to put this in there.” She nodded and we slowly resumed. Some of the stories were just like that. Can you imagine listening to story after story like that and it not get to you? Yeah, tough.