Volume 2

Discreetly Dank is a recurring column dedicated to giving a voice to those who dare to be dank. Each volume will come from a different writer in need of a safe space to document what it’s really like to be a weed lover in a world that still hasn’t normalized cannabis.

The elevator door opens, and I’m happy to be nearing the threshold of my apartment. I always try to carry up as many grocery bags as I can, even if my arms feel like falling off. I can’t wait to get inside and let the stress of life outside my apartment fall away. I pause to search for my keys and fall prey to Janice,* one of the women who lives in the unit directly across from the elevators.

The weed I have is legally in my possession, but when that white lady confronted me about it, my guard went way up.

“Hey, there! Question for you!,” she says before I can get inside my door down the hall. I pause where I am and focus on fixing my face into something more resembling enthusiasm before locking eyes.

“You smokin’ pot in there?”

*record scratch*

Well shit, I think. What does that have to do with anything?

“No. I’m just getting back from grocery shopping,” I say.

grocery bags at home entrance door outside doorstep hallway.
Janice needs to go smell her own flowers.

One thing I don’t have time for is to move again now that I’ve settled into my building. I paid a man $50 per floor in cash to get my West Elm sofa into this place, and we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

And as a matter of fact, I just re-signed my lease. But Janice’s vibe was less neighborly and more narc.

Why did I just feel the need to deny my love of weed in order to get out of the encounter safely?

I spent a few more moments listening to her discuss where she thought the “skunk” smell could be coming from in the evenings and scurry away as soon as I could make an excuse about getting my milk in the fridge. But even when I got inside, I was bothered.

Why did I just feel the need to deny my love of weed in order to get out of the encounter safely?

I pride myself on having several strains of loud, gaseous cannabis flower in my stash pretty much at all times. I smoke good weed every day. I have my medical marijuana card and don’t feel any guilt about choosing cannabis over the benzos I was prescribed all throughout my twenties.

The weed I have is legally in my possession, but when that white lady confronted me about it, my guard went way up.

Am I asking what you’re doing in your apartment? Do I care what’s in your medicine cabinet? What was the point of this exchange? Is it because I’m Black? Janice had successfully infiltrated my thoughts and put me on edge.

Damnit Janice!

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Warning: white woman

The truth is, no matter where I go there is always a Janice, a Susan, or a Karen ready to keep an eye on me. At home, at work, when I’m out shopping in my favorite stores, and, unfortunately, even as I’m trying to get inside the door to my own house.

Even when I’m minding my own business, white women tend to need more from me to “feel okay” than most other people.

Even when I’m minding my own business, white women tend to need more from me to “feel okay” than most other people. More often than not, they need a little more of my business, and a few more details to feel comfortable.

I pay my rent on time. I wait to play my Meg Thee Stallion until after 8 a.m. and before 8 p.m. I’m incredibly cautious about who I let into the building, and I don’t have a puppy that I leave howling all day, but somehow that’s not enough to keep the Janices at bay.

The entire evening, my anxiety was way too high wondering if I was going to get an email from my landlord. After all, the smell of weed has been used to criminalize people of color for decades. And even though I have my medical marijuana card, she could probably find a way to get me in trouble with my landlord or kicked out of my building.

I regularly check to make sure the smell of weed isn’t seeping into the hallway and I also think I am a pretty good neighbor. But the truth is: I am so tired of making huge adjustments to my life because White people don’t vibe with my grown, Black-ass decisions. Janice is no exception.

My home is my sanctuary and being able to consume cannabis within it is part of what makes it so special to me. And maybe it was just some random white lady nonsense that Janice served up that day, but I felt threatened.

I also felt like knocking on her door and asking who she voted for in 2016 and 2020.

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Where can Black people feel safe?

Ultimately, my encounter with Janice has had very few consequences (so far,) but I’ve still been pretty paranoid. I hate knowing that she can do whatever she wants with the information, including starting off a chain of events that could completely disrupt my life.

From Janice’s microaggressions in the hallway outside my apartment to ten beautiful Black people getting killed at the grocery store in Buffalo, NY – it’s hard to know where you can go as a Black person and not have to worry about white people choosing to make your day harder, scarier, or more violent because they aren’t comfortable.

It’s hard to know where you can exist as a Black person and not have to worry about white people choosing to make your day harder, scarier, or more violent because they aren’t comfortable.

More than I’m worried about being kicked out of my apartment for smoking weed, I’m worried for all the Black people who struggle to find a feeling of safety in their own homes and neighborhoods – places where they deserve to peacefully live out their lives. I’m also worried about the Black people that are surveilled, questioned, targeted, and unable to exist freely lest a white person feels like they’ve lost too much power or control over their surroundings.

Whether we smoke weed or don’t – it makes me wonder if there is anywhere safe in America for Black people. It feels like we can’t be at home, in the store, in the car, or anywhere really. Not without being in danger for just being alive.

And while Janice may have thought that her question was cute, but really it just reminded me to keep my head on a swivel.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this country and people like Janice wanted to make sure Black people don’t feel like they belong. But that can’t be true in 2022, right?


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Discreetly Dank

Discreetly Dank is a recurring column dedicated to highlighting the stories and perspectives of cannabis enthusiasts navigating the stigma around cannabis in all facets of life. From microaggressions to genuine concerns about health and safety, the Discreetly Dank contributors dare to be dank in a world that hasn’t caught up to their elevated lifestyles…yet.

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