You know when you hear people referring to “a friend” but you know they’re really talking about themselves? Well, this isn’t like that.

I know you’ve heard it before. But this time I’m REALLY talking about a friend. We met up with him on a road trip to Fall River, Mass.. He’s got a medical marijuana card in New Jersey, but lost his job due to coronavirus and was having a hard time paying the $400 fee that was required to hold the card.

He’d also heard that in Massachusetts, where recreational marijuana is legal, the free market had made the product there much more affordable. So he set us on an errand: Get the edibles that he needed that worked for his particular pain issue, and get them at a fair price.

My husband and I agreed to meet him in the parking lot of this amazingly fancy dispensary. And the parking lot was packed. I wanted to wait in the car because I was so nervous. My husband and his buddy were laughing at me but I’ve never done anything like this before and I felt like a druggie walking into a store where people buy marijuana.

It turned out since there was a legal limit per customer, my friend needed my extra pair of hands, and I’d be helping out if I went in and bought some for him, too. So I pulled my baseball cap down over my face, masked up and walked in. And by walking in, I mean walked onto a long line to fill out our order forms and wait to get to the sales center, which, because of COVID-19, was under the massive tents set up to sell outdoors.

People lined up like little soldiers, single file behind a velvet rope, all masked up and following all the rules to a T.

People of all stripes, colors, and socioeconomic groups were there waiting in line with us, and soon my awkwardness began to fade. I tell you, it tell you it was the most professional operation I have ever seen in almost any industry. We were handed menus I could certainly not understand, but my friend was able to decipher them for me. This gummy, that chocolate, this flower, that Shatter. It made me feel like I should be speaking in low tones, but everybody around me was discussing the choices as though we were talking about which flowers to buy at the garden center.

He told me what to buy and interestingly, because legally the store is only allowed to take cash, the governor of Massachusetts figured out a loophole. You use your ATM card for the “charge,” which is rounded up, and then they give you the change in cash. So for instance, if your purchase comes out to $115.50, they charge you $120, bring you the $4.50 change and Voila! The purchase shows up just as a $120 ATM withdrawal on your card. No muss, no fuss. So no one, not your mother, not even the State of Massachusetts, knows you just bought weed. It’s like the plain brown paper-wrapped package of the digital age.

I handed the prized booty over to my friend and he thanked us profusely and left. The next day, we met again and did the whole thing all over again, this time as seasoned professionals. I looked at the neophytes (they’re easy to spot) and felt sorry for them, since I knew they felt weird just as I had the day before. Now at least I know if I ever do decide to buy any for myself, I’ll be a pro.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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