A compelling argument for the lifting of cannabis prohibition. And, a pretty cool story too.
So there I am, at dinner last Sunday night, and my mate wants to chat with me about Marijuana. Everyone knows I am heavily invested both financially and time-wise into the industry, and so this was not out of the ordinary. What he wanted to discuss, however, certainly was.
Side note – I live in Sydney, Australia where recreational marijuana is still illegal.
Friend: "Do you know there's a site where consumers can connect with dealers?"
Me: "In Canada and the US – sure, there's a few of them"
Friend: "No, I mean here in Sydney"
And he began to tell me all about leafedin.org. I'd never come across it before, and so after putting the kids to sleep and returning to my desk, I decided to investigate further. After all, covering the industry means understanding how the black market works and how the lifting of prohibition will change things. Onto Leafedin, I surfed.
And down the rabbit hole I went…
A quick overview of the site. There are Consumers and Vendors. That's pretty self-explanatory. The site asks for a name and email only, so "moderate" anonymity is provided. From there, you can message any consumer and/or vendor through the platform. And so, with that, HerbieRidesAgain (note I have changed my fake name to protect my fake identity) dived into the Leafedin world.
I started to review the Vendor's profiles. They all mentioned different selling points, like specials on large quantities, or guarantees of fresh quality. Where they were most united, was their shopping list of premium-grade, high-quality, cannabis. Most of them seemed to be offering the top strains, with almost all having a fine selection of vape cartridges and oils.
Most of them also answered YES to delivery on their profile. So, I went about messaging a couple looking for some 'cannabis love'. After a while (about an hour) one or two responses come back, with pretty similar answers. "VVickr MrCannaMan"
Vot do you know about VVickr?
I had no idea what this was. Back to Google and more searching. I eventually found what I was looking for (after all, I was searching for V V and some combination of that). But I found it.
With Wickr Me, you can instantly connect with your friends 1:1 or in groups – now with fully encrypted voice calling, voice memos, trusted end-to-end secure sharing of files, images, and videos. Take full control over who has access to your content and how long it remains accessible.
I download the app and signed up. To sign up you simply supply a fake username and a password (so they have no idea who you are) and then once inside you speak to people who are also using a fake username. And so, in his new, totally-secure, MI-5 style messaging platform, HerbieRidesAgain sends out his first Wickr Me message.
I was talking to two guys; Nelli420nie & MrCannaMan
Both send me their menu and start by guiding me through the strains (these are good for daytime sessions, and these will put you blissfully to sleep at night etc.). All very friendly and polite. I feel like we're making progress. Seems pretty easy and simple to me so far.
Now the all important questions
How much? And do you deliver? They both come back with relatively cheap prices on the strains. I research this full time and have a pretty good understanding of the retail prices for these strains. As for payment, well I got a different option from each of them.
Nelli420ni wanted me to pay with Bitcoin, and from there, they would courier it to me with the following guarantee as to why this would reach my door.
"Our packages are all Double Vacuum Q Stealth Package so it can't be scent detected by canine (dogs) or electronic sniffers. Our Stuff is professionally wrapped into an oily plastic in order to prevent smell, x-ray penetration and even detection with the ION scanner. Then packaged into a PlayStation or X-box carton so buyer receives stuff as though receiving a newly ordered game and this how you gonna receive your package." (sic)
Impressive, and I learned something, canines…are dogs.
The second option I had, compliments of MrCannaMan, was to pay using Steam Cards. I should buy Steam cards, and then, when we met (this guy personally delivers) I should exchange the Steam cards for the marijuana.
Google! Need you again, please. Sure enough, found them. How weird is this?…
You get both digital and physical Steam Gift Cards. Obviously, it was the physical type I needed to read up about.
"For those times when a gift in the hand is the way to go, you'll find Steam Gift Cards at retail stores across the world in a variety of denominations. Physical Gift Cards are also a great option when you have cash in hand and want to spend it on Steam."
Hmmm…seems odd, but it's still face-to-face, so still a possibility of being an ingeniously creative payment method.
I told Nellie420ni that I was very nervous about being scammed and was not comfortable paying with Bitcoin. "No problem," he said. "There are so many scammers on this platform and I want to help you avoid them." Great – he's helping me with my understanding of the English language, and looking out for me – what a guy.
He cleverly walks me through all the reasons why we just cannot do cash and then lowers the asking price. Could I at least pay $50 with Bitcoin now, just so that he knew I was serious and then, when he made the delivery, I could transfer the balance to his Crypto wallet? I decided to pay him $10 via Bitcoin (I'll expense this to journalistic endeavours later on). He eventually got it, and then came back with a sob story about why he couldn't deliver for such a small amount.
He was happy with $30 but not $10. After arguing with him for a while, he just went silent. One down.
Back to those Steam cards. MrCannaMan was seriously encouraging me to me to get to the local supermarket and buy the cards now. He was ready to deliver. "You can still make it" he kept pushing me. So, I decided to call his bluff. "I've got them!!!" I said with a full house of power 💪👊🌳🙏. He texted me right back and said he was on his way. The excitement…
About 15 minutes later, he lets me know he is near my area and that he had pulled over to the side of the road. He wanted to ask me something.
"Did I really have the cards, as there are so many scammers on Wickr?" Let's all pause there for a moment. Let that sink in. Me? The scammer? I'd never considered that.
I let him know that I too was so nervous about being scammed. He said he knew exactly how to make sure we were both covered. I needed to scratch the back of the Steam card and find the serial numbers. I should then send them to him and he would check in the system to see if they were valid.
I think now is another good point, just to take stock…
So, let me get this right. I should scratch the back of the card, retrieve the serial number, and then send them to him for validation? That was exactly right, and in return he would send me a photo of the upcoming, soon to be delivered, package. "This was no scam," he assured me.
A few minutes later, and true to his word, he posts a picture (securely in Wickr) of a small container of weed. Except, something wasn't right. The picture was far too bright to have been taken in the car (at night). It didn't add up. I had to ask, didn't I?
So, I decided to question him on this. And boy did that hit a nerve. He got angry. UFC pre-fight trash talk kinda angry. Started accusing me of calling him a scammer and making him drive all the way out to me. He ranted and raved for another 2 minutes, line after line, ping after ping, and made it very clear that he didn't take kindly to this. I told him no way I was sending codes. Had to be face-to-face or nothing.
Pretty shitty batting average
And there you have it. Two from two. Pretty disappointing. And trust me, vultures do not circle healthy, live animals. They circle those that are weak. And there are hundreds of weak prey in Leafedin land.
Don't believe me? Go to Leafedin and put your postcode in and see just how many "Consumers" there are (they're in blue, vendors in green). And I'll bet my bottom dollar (or Steam card in this case) that many of them are being fleeced alive.
People's opinions and perceptions towards marijuana are changing and in great numbers. In the US now, 1 out of every 4 people live in a state where cannabis is legal for either medicinal or recreational purposes (and in 9 States, both). In a poll result released last year, more than 65% of Americans now want marijuana to be legalised for adult-use at the federal level. They want prohibition lifted.
A tipping point has been reached
Bottom line – more and more people are using marijuana, as more and more people become at ease with the idea that this is not the gateway drug to addiction and will not lead to huge increases in the number of children that will gain access to it.
First off, no one has ever died as a result of too much marijuana. 135 Americans die every single day as a result of Oxycontin (aka Heroine) overdoses. Obviously right? I mean heroin is an evil, highly addictive, family and life-destroying drug. That's why it's a Schedule 1 Drug. Postscript, so is Cannabis. Am I done here?
And as for the children, research studies are now starting to show (given they've had some time over which to test) that usage in states where it is recreationally available has "significantly declined" over the past couple of years. It's a controlled substance (like alcohol) and hence is harder for the teenagers to get their hands on.
Finally, back to our scammers. They should not be the winners in this. Quite the opposite.
The real winners should be the legitimate, law-abiding businesses that sell a controlled substance, and the consumers, who receive quality checked and controlled goods. Oh, and don't forget the Federal Government, who would stand to benefit greatly from the tax revenues (did we mention that's in the Billions of US dollars).
The last words I ever got from MrCannaMan were simply, "trust me, we are brothers in this".