In this week's edition of First-Person Shooter, we gave two cameras to Emily, a Denver-based "budtender" who runs the counter at Magnolia Road, a dispensary that operates both a medical and recreational marijuana storefront, as well as a grow house. A huge weed enthusiast, she smokes about an eighth of dank nug a day, and helps upwards of 300 customers pick out a variety of strains, edibles, and other pot products.
On top of shooting the inside of Magnolia Road, Emily snapped #weedporn-worthy pics of the company's massive warehouse filled with budding buds. She also talked to VICE about the inner-workings of a commercial pot dispensary that she says makes anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 a day.
VICE: What was your day like Friday? Where did it start? What'd you get up to?
Emily the Budtender: I started my day by getting high before work—the critical wake and bake. Open to close shifts are normal in the industry, so a typical day usually goes from 8:45 AM to 7:45 PM. It was a normal Friday in the stores after that. Our recreational and medical locations are right next door to each other, so I'm usually the budtender jumping between both shops. The medical side has been up and running for three years and the recreational side just under a year.
Later in the day, I popped over to the grow warehouse to take photos of a different side of the dispensary operation. Very few people get a true, inside look at the grow facility, as it's off limits to customers. This is where all the growing, transplanting, cloning, and trimming of the weed happens.
I see all these different jars full of weed in the shop, what's the difference between them?
Those are the strains we currently have on our shelves. The jars with the black labels represent the indica-dominant strains and white labels represent the sativa-dominant strains. I also took photos of the plastic containers, which is the back stock, or inventory we keep in the safe.
What type of people do you serve at the medical shop versus the recreational one?
On the medical side, we serve people 18 years old and up if you have a medicinal marijuana card and matching ID. Recreationally, we serve a totally different crowd. We can accept visitors above the age of 21 from both in and out of state. [Colorado residents] have a purchase limit of one ounce, while out-of-town visitors are allowed to buy a maximum of seven grams per transaction. We see a way different audience on this side, including a huge amount of out-of-state visitors checking out a dispensary for the very first time.
Can you tell me about the difference between your cheapest and most expensive products?
We try to remain super competitive by pricing our specials nearly identically in both our medical and recreational shops. Typically, a quarter ounce of flower (seven grams) will run around $45 out the door on each side. The most expensive will come from our top-shelf weed on the recreational side, running at $15 a gram, or nearly $300 for the ounce. These top shelf strains have our maximum THC levels, at 20 percent or above.
What's the weirdest thing that has happened at the shop?
We have a regular customer that comes in rocking his pet cat perched on his shoulder, parrot-style.
How did your night end? How did you feel the next morning?
At the end of the night, I went out with a coworker. We hit the bar scene down in Denver, but not without a substantial pregame beforehand. I ended my night by taking a fat dab right before bed, which is the best kinda nightcap. Weed is truly the best hangover cure, so I felt great the next day.