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In post-legalization haze, one pot dealer using Facebook for business

Ted S. Warren
Associated Press

As Washington state voters await clarification on what, exactly, legal marijuana will entail, one local pot dealer has taken to social media to connect with customers.

The state Liquor Control Board is working to draft a set of rules to regulate marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law. And although producing and distributing non-medical pot is still prohibited, Seattle police have taken to admonishing dealers with strongly-worded letters.

In this new murky landscape, one veteran dealer has found a new way to alert his customers about new shipment: Facebook.

The Seattle dealer, whom we’ll call “Mike”, shares with his thousands of Facebook friends the strains he has in stock, as well as the price of each.

“I post those to friends only, and it’s not visible to non-friends,” he said.

But when one has as many friends as Mike, “friends only” is no slight term.  

Mike says he began posting these Facebook updates several months ago after watching his business decline in recent years. But he isn’t sure Facebook has helped much.

“There has been a proliferation of people selling pot,” he said. “For many years, I was providing the service. And now everyone’s coming out of the woodwork.”

Mike isn’t hoping to attract new customers on Facebook; he uses the platform to reach his regulars.

Perhaps the response to Mike’s second aim—“to push the envelope a little bit”—is an indicator of the public’s still-mixed view of marijuana in the wake of legalization. Mike says he took to Facebook, in part, to see “which one of my friends didn’t know that I sell pot.”

He has since learned that “actually quite a few” of his friends didn’t know about his business. And some who had known for years, including his brother, chose to unfriend him on Facebook.

“They didn’t like how I was being public,” he said.

When asked whether he feared any legal repercussions from his posts, Mike said he’s not worried, though he did ask to remain anonymous for this story.

“I don’t make enough money doing this to hit anybody’s radar. I never possess any amount of marijuana that would get on anybody’s radar,” he said. “Maybe three or four ounces a week is all that I move. Very small.”

Even though he has watched his business decline, Mike isn’t worried about the day his job will be eliminated by state-regulated marijuana.

“The point all these years has been to legalize pot. I’ve been all for it. I want nothing more than to be able to tell customers to go to the (expletive) store,” he said, chuckling.

Except, says Mike, he’ll likely be at one of those stores, serving the same customers.

“I’ll probably get a job at one of those stores. I’m sure they’ll be happy to have me, because I can bring my clientele with,” he said.

The Liquor Control Board has until Dec. 1 to finalize its rules for marijuana regulation. The state’s new rule law takes effect on Dec. 6.