A Denver man gets paid to smoke pot and write about it as one of the first medical marijuana critics in the country.
A decade after medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado, it’s estimated about 2 percent of residents, or more than 100,000 people, have applied for medical marijuana licenses.
According to one Harvard economist, roughly $18 billion is spent on pot every year in the U.S. Denver’s Westword newspaper has capitalized on those numbers, hiring the man known as “William Breathes” to review pot dispensaries and the quality of the medical marijuana they sell.
“He has his journalism degree,” a Westword editor said. “He was a good writer, and he could also punctuate and he could spell, which was very different than a lot of people who applied for the job.”
Breathes has been smoking marijuana for 15 years to ease chronic stomach pains. Now his medicine is paying his mortgage.
“Load up a little bit and taste it,” he said as he tested a joint he bought at a local dispensary. “Try and taste the smoke as it comes out. It has a really woody finish, almost like a mesquite finish to it. After a few hits, try to see what kind of buzz it is.”
People who swear by pot’s medical benefits are becoming so-called marijuana pharmacists.
Steve Horowitz makes edibles at his Ganja Gourmet Shop on a street nicknamed “Broadsterdam.”
“It’s like gold, this stuff,” he said. “There’s a big bubble going on, there’s a big buzz, everyone wants to be in the medical marijuana business.”
As for Breathes, he’s not going to lie. His job can definitely be fun sometimes, and he still can’t get over that he gets paid to take bong hits.
But Breathes also believes in the power of marijuana as medicine.
“When I’m battling throwing up, pot really helps me the most — it’s truly medical,” he said.