For over a decade, I’ve lived in New York City where weed has alway been a phone call away, where a delivery person arrives at the door wearing a suit, holding a briefcase full of plastic cube containers stickered with The Simpsons or SpongeBob or some other stoner loving cartoon.

Each cube would have a different strain printed on it, but it didn’t take a brain surgeon to see it was all the same overpriced, midgrade bud. But I never dared say a condescending word because I was grateful for whatever I could get my paws on.

Now, my collection consists of myriad chemovars, and my edibles and topicals drawer overfloweth. My indecisiveness is worsened by the ever present question of not “what” to pack a bowl with, but exactly “which” lovely bud will be next? Cue choirs of angels singing. It’s miraculous. Truly. Yet, this is not reality for many people across our weed-conflicted nation…unless, perhaps, you’re blessed with the “gift."

“A lot of people have a hard time finding cannabis. I, however, do not have a hard time finding it because I have a gift. Wherever I go, I “see” exactly who’s carrying it, and I know it’s that person. I’m blessed with the gift to smell it out,” says Lorraine, a raven haired artist from Queens.

However, her friends don’t possess this talent. Frustrated, they sit around a table, slugging back iced coffees and lamenting over how difficult it is for them to score. “Boston is a college town. Needless to say, the thought of funding some kid’s tuition just so I can puff keeps me from seeking it out,” says James, 42, an avid Red-Sox fan and Boston native.

“So what do you turn to?” I ask.  

“I’m a total booze-hound when my dealer goes dry,” says Lindsay, a business exec who commutes to Manhattan daily from Jersey City. Her friend Jennifer exclaims, “Me too! Oh, and I know this bar owner [on the Lower East Side] who only smokes Scooby Snacks from the bodega because it’s always available and cheap.”

When the going gets tough, the tough grabs a bottle of Bordeaux, picks up a bag of French Roast, renews a prescription for Xanax or even worse, finds the toxic and sometimes deadly synthetic cannabis also known as Spice, K2 or Scooby Snacks. To clarify, synthetic cannabis is nothing like real cannabis. It’s plant matter sprayed with toxic chemicals that’s sold illegally in stores across the United States. Some people refer to this dreck as bath salts. For others, it’s the spice of life.

So, where can you go to find quality, legit herb without the sketchiness and fuss? Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and the District of Columbia.

Where may you run into problems? Everywhere else. Here are just a few stories.

Let these voices inspire us to keep advocating to end cannabis prohibition!

*All names have been changed*