This story is over 5 years old.


Weed Is Black

The late '90s saw cocaine MORE popular than ever.

Photo: Tim Barber

The late ’90s saw cocaine MORE popular than ever. All over New York City there were bars and after-hours devoted solely to providing their patrons with the finest snow money could buy. It was the ideal drug. It went perfectly with booze, you could do it practically anywhere, and $20 easily lasted the whole night.

Then the dealers got greedy. What once turned to oil when you rubbed it between your fingers became so full of Ajax that you’d have to sit down after every bump to deal with the nasal pain. One line meant two days of no appetite and the most Hiroshima-esque hangovers ever recorded in the history of man.

Meanwhile, back at the lab, the neglected weed community was working on better, stronger, cheaper strains in an attempt to get back into the market. Cheesy rap songs and idiot protestors in Dr. Seuss hats had made pot uncool and, according to an NYU poll in May of 1999, marijuana smoking was down 25% from the previous year. The New York slump was blamed on Giuliani (getting thrown in jail for 24 hours for smoking a joint on the street just wasn’t worth it). The rest of the country had plenty of reasons of their own: It made you sleep in all day, dealing with any kind of confrontation was impossible, and it wasn’t portable enough. Then coke got so bad they were forced to reconsider.

“I quit coke because I wasn’t getting any work done,” says New York photographer Nick Benson. “I’d be in bed the whole next day, moaning in pain.” Nick has taken to bringing a one-hit out with him every night and garnishing his booze high with one or two tokes. As he puts it, “I used to pass out or freak out on weed when I was a kid. This time around I’m a lot smarter about it. You don’t have to get so baked is all.”

Jennifer Chadha is a student and waitress in Montreal, Quebec. She was reintroduced to pot after her boyfriend gave her a hit three weeks ago. “It’s great,” she explains cheerily. “The coke I was doing was so shitty it literally gave me some kind of growth on the glands in my neck. Now instead of staying up all night, I come home at a normal hour, have a laughing party with my boyfriend, and go to sleep.”

Once again the people have spoken. While coke dealers priced themselves right out of the market and lowered their quality to carcinogenic proportions, pot dealers kept the same prices (even during massive busts and terrorist attacks) and raised their quality through the roof. The result is a whole new generation of pot lovers. Goodbye, cocaine. It was real. It was fun. But it wasn’t real fun.