At Bellmawr, Users Say Recreational Marijuana Eases Anxiety
The weed line stretched around the Curaleaf cannabis store in Bellmawr, as budtenders with iPads sorted ‘adult use’ people from medical card people and, if asked, cut each with a bud strain to achieve their desired high.
A hundred people were waiting. Others made their way from two parking lots.
“Are you medical or fun weed?” I asked a manbun man.
“Fun, I guess,” he said.
“I was told that people having fun in the weed have to stand in line,” I said. “But the medical has the privilege and enters directly, without waiting. It’s like the Studio 54 of old.
It was mid-morning on a weekday when most adults were working, so I expected a stoner crowd — underemployed gamers, bald baby boomers with ponytails, suburban GenXers. aging people who head to the garage late to take a breather and “get the upper hand”.
Sure, I found a few, which I always considered harmless, aimless, and friendly.
Most of the time, I found people, both medical and non-medical, who said they bought weed to deal with chronic anxiety. It’s better than drinking and safer than opioids, they said. They don’t want to get brick thick and die, just relax.
“I suffer from severe anxiety,” said one woman. “Thoughts of racing, depression, I feel overwhelmed, I can’t sleep and sometimes I don’t feel like getting out of bed.”
The pandemic was frequently cited as a source of anxiety. Or what aggravated their existing anxieties, from confinements to job loss to long separations from loved ones, the lingering effects of Faucism that therapists, sociologists and historians are only just beginning to count.
I’m ambivalent about legalizing smoking, mostly because the opioid epidemic persists. The decriminalization of marijuana seems a better compromise.
As a young long-haired kid, I smoked a lot of weed, daily if I had any. I had friends who were (always) smokers who spent years doing crummy, backbreaking jobs (a long, hot summer jackhammering, for example) where smoke was common.
Legalizing weed would open the doors to legions of normal people who would never have tried the stuff. They did stupid things, like sliding down the slope to heavier drugs and lifelong addictions, or they drank, smoked and drove. Just like some people can’t handle their alcohol, not everyone can handle their weed. I saw it. They panic.
But a week after weed became legal in the Garden State, most of those worries were allayed somewhat after Curaleaf employee Madison (company management wouldn’t let employees give me their names family) took me inside the store on Creek Road. She was my gracious guide through the brave new world of Jersey weed.
The place is clean, well lit, and, remarkably, has no trace of pot smell.
“Of course, it’s better than those trailer parks and creepy apartments I used to buy weed from,” I said.
Madison chuckled slightly, perhaps a little uncomfortably.
“We call this our sales floor, and here we separate our recreational patients from our medical patients, because our medical patients are our priority,” she said.
The clientele ranged from college manbuns to senior citizens with walking sticks, but was more geared toward manbuns.
Surrounding the place were display cases with displays of glass bongs. The budtenders – employees trained in the cannabis arts – have helpfully suggested various bud strains, like sativa, energy booster, or indica, that can make you as sweet as Dean Martin on his third highball.
But it’s not like Wawa. You can’t just walk in, order and leave. Curaleaf requires online pre-order. Your belongings will be awaiting pickup.
“Do you sell sweets? I asked Madison.
“No. We should, shouldn’t we?” she said.
I envisioned a cafe, “Bud Bistro,” serving Doritos and cheesesteaks, my favorite snack foods at the time.
Madison introduced me to Emily, a budtender. She said she loved cannabis, learned cannabis law and studied chemistry at Fairleigh Dickinson.
“The first thing I like to ask people is what effect they’re looking for,” Emily said. She asked, “If you were buying, what effect would you be looking for today?”
“Well,” I said, “it’s a busy day, working in two states. I guess I’d like to get through it but not be too stressed, you know, be relaxed. But not so relaxed that I can’t read my notes You got a weed for that?
“Absolutely,” she said. “I would choose a sativa strain or a hybrid, like Cake Pop, something to get you pumped up, but not too jittery.
“Sativas,” she said, “can have a variety of effects. It will be a little different for each person. But generally sativas are more euphoric, more racy, more uplifting.
“It makes you the life of the party, unafraid to talk to girls and such,” I said.
“Sometimes, yes,” she said. “Or it makes you think big thoughts, like outer space and how, you know, how big it is. Or, maybe you’re wondering why bread is bread, but when you heat it up, it’s toast, so why does its whole name change? »
“Or,” I said, “if you drop a bar of soap on the floor, does that make the soap dirty or the floor clean?”
“Okay, okay. Stuff like that,” she said.
Associating cannabis with personality and desired high seems a little safer than scoring a mysterious eighth of a pot from a sleazy dude in an apartment that smells of hipp incense and cats. But I guess the next step for legalization among the Trenton brain trust will be magic mushrooms, and who knows what after that.
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