Illustration by Wren McDonald
“There’s a guy I sell an ounce to for $200,” he tells me. “He’ll literally sell the ounce to some other dude for $220, and it’s an easy $20 for less than 30 minutes of his time, so he’ll come back and do it again right away. Sometimes it feels like you’re not even selling weed.”
On paper, Brian makes next to nothing, about $15,000 a year. He has an LLC officially set up in Delaware, where taxes are lower, and now employs an uncurious accountant and a handful of deliverymen to do the schlepping he’s grown tired of doing himself.
Brian claims he grosses half a million a year this way, which comes out to about $250,000 after payroll and other expenses. Despite this, he doesn’t consider himself big-time, either.
When I asked would happen to the little guys, or to people who wanted to run boutique stores, Miller replied they would simply get eaten up by something like the Apple Store of pot.
The new arrangement was that Darren had two weeks to pay back the price of the quarter pound, which was easy, he tells me, since he and his friend were the only dealers selling any exotic strands in their area. About a month or two after that, another old friend texted with an offer to front an entire pound, which was about the size of a bed pillow. The friend also didn’t care about when he would be paid back.
Eddie Miller is one of the guys who has a vested interest in seeing small-scale entrepreneurs like Franciosi succeed. The marketing professional, who built his first website in his parents’s Long Island basement at age 16, is one of the new breed of weed enthusiasts, almost evangelical in his passion for both kinds of green. He tells me he thinks it’s not a bad idea for kids to skip college and head to California or Colorado, and that he knows a guy who just invested $4.5 into the cultivation side and hopes to make it all back in the first year, and that the most profitable sector in pot is technology—which is why he’s the CEO of InvestInCannabis.com, a company that aims to sell infrastructure to fast-growing weed companies.
Nevertheless, even in hindsight, the weed merchants of my youth appear to have gotten off scot-free. As far as I know, no one I ever bought from got arrested, or even suspended. In my mind, selling weed would have enabled me to save more money than I did through my grunt labor at Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs, Pollo Tropical, and a litany of other fast food restaurants.
He found a second partner from New Jersey, however, someone with a bit more capital who was willing to spend $1.5 million to build a growing facility from scratch in a rural area. It’s set to open early next month, and it will employ five full-time employees as well as some auxiliary help, like trimmers. Those workers will earn around $45,000 a year, Franciosi says, which is a pretty good deal considering those jobs don’t require a college degree.
When I was growing up, drug dealers always seemed to have cushy jobs that were a license to print money. But what are the actual economics behind the legal and illegal sides of the marijuana industry?
Before I even outline this process let me just give you one helpful bit of advice. This bit of advice is so easy to say and extremely hard to follow. Don’t be greedy! That’s right. Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not. It’s so easy to make loads of cash when you sell in bulk that so many people grow way more than they can conceal. This means your ass is going to prison!
5) When you’re about to make the exchange, arrive 5 minutes early and hide the weed somewhere close by. Why? This keeps the weed off you and so if a narc shows up you’re clean and he/she is left looking like an idiot.
Step One: The Grow
1) Make sure you don’t grow an extreme number of plants. Grow something you can manage. The people who grow 100 plants at a time are the ones who get caught. I’d say grow no more than 20 at a time if even that.
Step 3: The Sale
Pay close attention to this one as this is where people always fuck up.
3) Pick strains that are low odor. This is always a good idea as cops are trained to know what weed smells like. If they smell strong weed stench all around your property, have fun being handed a search warrant.
2) Do not have a room where you have weed upside down. Wait, what the hell? Yes, that’s right. Use a drying room that can be hidden and uses a fan/tray system. It’s called a herb dryer and can be made cheaply.
6) Point out the location of the weed after you have received your money and after you have verified the buyer is not a cop or working for the cops.
4) Use low heat lights and good insulation so as not to give off a significant heat signal. I’m not sure if they do it frequently, but cops sometimes do use heat to find grow rooms. The better insulated a room is the more money you save on heating and the lower the heat signal from the room.
2) Growing a smaller number of plants means you can have a smaller grow room. Trust me, you want a grow room if you don’t want to get busted. Build the grow room yourself. No friends, no family, no construction workers! Nobody must know this room even exists.
Alright, I know there are more threads on this than one can count but most of them suck. People get caught for selling weed for two main reasons: 1) They…