By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
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"The reality is that dealers are you," says the Puff. "Your next-door neighbor."
A business plan: Twenty years ago, at a local high school, a huge circle of students was taking pot. In one of their heads, a light bulb illuminated. Shouldn't one of us at least try to make money?Eureka! Turns out that very light bulb belongs to the Puff's (at the time) 15-year-old entrepreneurial classmate.
"I saw him, within a period of six months, make enough money to buy himself a brand-new motorcycle," the Puff says. "That was all the motivation I needed, right there." Call it greed, call it identifying a business opportunity with few, albeit critical, barriers to entry, or even a way of seeking silent revenge against the corrupt dealer they were using at the time. But know that the decision to deal pot was, first and foremost, a "capitalistic idea that seemed to make sense." Thus, a competitor was born.
(Somewhere along the way, the Puff grows noticeably agitated by my questions regarding his financial status, in particular his tax situation, so he asks me, politely, to turn off my recorder. He wants to know if I'm a cop. Nervous? Kinda, sorta.)
Professionals constitute a substantial portion of the Puff's clientele. In fact, he caters to a "shitload of attorneys." Surprised? Check this -- the aforementioned attorneys include a handful currently working in the D.A.'s Office, the legal outfit that decides whether or not to prosecute cases of the variety in which the Puff might find himself if he is not careful. Remember, even though this is Los Angeles, pot is still illegal. Widespread, yet illegal. Consider the esteemed Beverly Hills ophthalmologist who recently hinted at the storage possibilities of my empty prescription container. In any case, the Puff's camaraderie with influential friends raises an interesting question: Has Joey the Puff benefited, in the sense of evading the long arm of the law, from what are likely parking-lot chums who have matured into authoritative careers?
"These are clients . . . I don't want to compromise them . . . And they wouldn't compromise me . . . I don't ask for favors." Besides, the Puff says, "The policemen that I know say that the last thing they actually want to do is arrest anyone for fucking weed."
The Law of the Forbidden, a Puffian dogma, states, "When you forbid somebody something, their normal inclination is to go: I can't do what?What do you mean I can't do this?" Questioning is healthy; it's natural. The Puff will tell you to question your every motive, your every thought, each cause and effect. He is unlike any drug dealer I have met. He is gregarious, honest, clean, and automatic when it comes to delivering the goods. If he notices that a client is smoking more than usual, he will assuredly confront the person, aiming, through articulate discourse, to unravel the layers of human consciousness that are riddling the person with erratic behavior.
"It's more important to me, especially if I feel someone is smoking too much, that they at least look at the fact that they are smoking too much." This may sound like a Ben & Jerry'stype approach to business: sacrificing the short-term hits for long-term customer satisfaction, brand awareness and overall integrity, primarily through social-betterment initiatives, but the essence of supply and demand is not lost.
Apt not to indulge in his company's products -- contrary to, say, Ben and Jerry -- except during the occasional movie, the Puff summarizes our conversation by saying, "Smoking weed is not right or wrong. It just is smoking weed. Only we as human beings give moral meaning." I encourage you to put that in your pipe and smoke it!
--Michael Andreas Hoinski