Editor's note: William Breathes is on paternity leave. His 4:20 p.m. Thursday dispensary reviews will return soon. In the meantime, here's one of his greatest hits: the top five questions Facebook and Twitter pals asked after being featured in a 2010 CNN profile on view below.
The calls and texts started well before I had woken up yesterday, vibrating my phone completely off my bedside table. Apparently people on the East Coast don't realize there's a time difference between us.
When I finally did get up and turn on the TV, I didn't have to wait long to see why everyone from my dad to friends who lived on my couch in college were buzzing me. There was reporter Poppy Harlow watching as the back of my head took a bong hit on CNN.
Good stuff. The CNN piece, that is (watch it below). At times, it was really funny; Harlow's reaction to me popping open the jar of Cough in the car ("Whew!") was priceless.
Still, there were some things I feel like I missed out on. I do wish I had spoken more about my stomach condition and why I actually have a card, for example. Also, I hate the way my voice sounds on tape.
Understandably, I got a lot of questions from folks about just how what the hell it is I do.
To answer the top five most asked:
1. How did you get your job? Some people say it's a bad stereotype that marijuana users have bad memory. Some say it's the truth. I'm not saying either, but I thought that Westword's search for the nation's first pot critic job was somewhat well known. I mean, even the BBC wrote about it -- and Conan O'Brien made fun of it during his brief time at the Tonight Show.
So, to answer the question: I applied for the job along with some 300 others, they liked what I wrote (or were stoned-by-proxy, for all I know) and asked me to send in a review, along with several other "finalists." In the end, they picked me and my cohort, the Wildflower Seed, and ran my initial review soon after.
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2. How can I do what you do?/How do I get your job? First, you should find a local municipality that recently had an explosion in the number of medical marijuana dispensaries. Second, find a local alternative weekly hiring a dispensary critic. Third, apply and hope you get it.
My suggestion for people wanting to write about medical ganja or simply chronicle their chronic, though, is to start a blog on your own. Take pictures, have fun, enjoy it. Sure, you aren't getting paid for it -- but you'd be smoking it anyway, right?
Continue for more answers to the top five questions William Breathes was asked after being profiled by CNN. 3. How much do they pay you? Nowhere near as much as you probably think they do.
4. Do you just sit around and smoke weed all day? That's awesome. No. Actually I don't, and this isn't even my full-time gig (grad school is). I do my dispensary visits one day, and testing usually on another, when I don't have much going on. The dispensary visit is just as big a part of my review as the strains are, if not more. We have a lot of different places to buy meds in town -- from the sketch to the super-swanky. I'd like to think I'm helping people find the right place for them as well as the right meds. I do smoke a bit more than usual in one setting when I sample the strains, but I'm not Cheech-and-Chonging it over here day in and day out. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it, though.
5. You aren't really sick. This is really just a way to smoke herb. That isn't really a question, now is it? Either way, I've discussed it some in the past, and I openly admit that I enjoy recreational ganja use and can blur lines between that and medical use.
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But make no mistake, I would trade this job, medical marijuana, and damn near anything to not be hospitalized two or three times a year for the last decade and foreseeable future because I'm vomiting up blood and stomach bile. I'd gladly give up the thousands in hospital debts, too. Seriously, if anyone out there wants them, you can have them.
Here's the CNN report.
More from our Marijuana archive circa May 2010: "William Breathes on what you didn't see in The Daily Show's Denver weed story."