I’m a Stock Trader Who Makes $20,000 a Year Selling Weed on the Side

"I have legal incomes, and I have this."
illustrated by Mike Hughes
A man
Image: Mike Hughes
VICE's column asking drug dealers not just what they're selling, but how they're doing.

Jack, a part-time stock trader who lives in Brooklyn, makes as much as $20,000 a year from the weed deals that he brokers. His industrial, scarcely furnished apartment in Williamsburg smells like a Los Angeles dispensary. It’s how he’s made his living for the past 27 years. 

VICE: Hey, you around? 
Hey, come on in.

Things feel more normal in New York City now, but how was your weed business during the COVID-19 lockdown?
During the pandemic, word spread that I could fix problems. [It’s 11AM – the doorbell goes, and a customer enters the apartment after greeting Jack and heads into the bedroom.] But yeah, like I was saying, nothing was going on in the city. No movement, no trucks, no nothing. So all the drugs that come into New York usually were just like, stopped all of a sudden. Then, as New York was drying [up], my prices went flying.


So is your stuff good?
New Yorkers literally consume all of the unhealthy stuff. Most of its grown inorganically and there’s all kind of pesticides. But people still eat it up, because it’s all they have access to. I smoke my stuff. And yeah, I genuinely won't smoke something if it doesn't have the tell-tale signs of organic. Because since I was out in California, I heard the growers speak. I've heard from the horse's mouth.

How many clients will you see a day?
Only two or three, and this is probably the earliest one has ever come. [Jack’s customer emerges from the bedroom holding a jam jar of bud and some plastic packets wrapped in knock-offs of the iconic California weed packaging]

Do you get new clients ever?
Customers can only give out my number if they ask. The first someone new calls, I will throw out the most outlandish prices you have ever heard. If they say yes, and don’t negotiate, they can use me. I am extremely high end and I don’t like my business to grow.

How do you know you can trust them?
I use Signal. I try to make things convenient. I don't like speaking a lot on the phone. So once I know someone and I know what they like, it's just like, hey, come over. 

Have you ever been in trouble?
Yes. So two, three deals in, this guy was already holding like $75,000 [of weed] for me in a matter of weeks. I was thinking I'm gonna get rich.  I started seeing dollar signs. And then, next thing you know, I send someone out that I don't know that well.


I wasn't screening anyone, as long as it came word of mouth from someone I knew. But then this person fucked me big time. They were collecting on my name, and they weren’t paying the supply guy back. 

A couple weeks later, I get a call saying hey, the guy didn't come back with the money. I went from having big amounts of cash to owing this guy over 200k. Meanwhile, the runner just disappeared. I had to go to California and work it back for the supplier.

Now weed is legal in New York, are you afraid there will be no demand for your stuff?
No dealer that sells any weed is afraid of legalisation. Look at what happened in Massachusetts. Marijuana has been legal way longer in that state than here, but no one goes to the dispensaries in the suburbs to get their supply.  If it was doing well, New Yorkers would just be travelling to Massachusetts and buying it from there. 

So yeah, even though it’s legal, it’s going to be years before the infrastructure changes. And, I’m a very unique case. I am not typical – people trust me.

Do you think the city could do legal weed right?
I want marijuana to be something that I can consume – something extremely high end and clean. I don't think the government are going to make the kind of standards here for that in the dispensaries. Weed will be taxed at 13 percent - New York State is just doing it for the money.


Criminal repercussions for carrying small amounts of cannabis have been scrapped. Has that changed how brazenly you deal?
The retail game is way less risk. It's one thing to have an eighth on you. It's another thing to be carrying 50 pounds of it. I just never walk around with big quantities of my stuff.

Will you change your business in the coming years?
I don't have a plan like that. I have legal incomes, and I have this. And I have another illegal income. I just don't like the idea of having a nine to five.

So, you’d never think about going legal, and applying to the government for a license to sell marijuana?
[laughs] No. 

What’s the scariest thing that’s happened when someone’s been under the influence of your drugs?
My stuff is so good that I’ve had grown men so high they have literally cried to me. Shouting from this very sofa, “How and why have you done this to me?” This one guy had a seizure on my floor. He was having a panic attack from the paranoia. And when I tell you that I'm not equipped to handle that kind of situation – I really didn't know what do. 

At that moment, I was like, there's no fucking way I can call the cops right now. There's no ambulance coming in here. My heart just went nuts. My body filled with adrenaline. I picked him up from the floor and started shaking him. He looked at me and stopped moving. I shook him until he woke up. His girlfriend was screaming at the top of her lungs.

Is there anything else you want to add?
I like to drink white wine when I eat short ribs.