"It's like being a good quarterback: You throw a pick, you can't go out the next time all nervous, 'cause that hesitation might mean you miss an open man," he says, eyes on the potential customers. "I got a second and a half to make a decision, and each second I'm trippin', I'm losin' money."

When the dispensaries first started popping up, Trey wasn't sure how his hustling would fare. But he kept finding customers. A decade ago, he was selling eighths for $60, profiting $600 or $700 in a day. As growers began producing more crops, though, the prices dropped, setting off a domino effect into the streets. Three or four years ago, Trey recalls, a younger generation of hustlers popped up in Mid-Market, undercutting the competition with $30 and even $20 eighths. Trey, like many other street dealers, had to slice his prices. He buys by the ounce, for $150 to $200 a pop, which means he now makes $15 to $21.25 on a $40 eighth of an ounce. But while the increasing legitimacy of the cannabis business has eroded profit margins, it has also decreased street dealers' risk of getting arrested, by introducing medical marijuana cards to the scene. Trey's is in his wallet.

He paces toward an older man in a Panama hat, walks with him for a few steps. "Want weed?"

City officials seek to turn Mid-Market into the next business-technology-culture hub. In the meantime, the neighborhood features a booming open-air drug industry.
Josh Edelson
City officials seek to turn Mid-Market into the next business-technology-culture hub. In the meantime, the neighborhood features a booming open-air drug industry.
Many customers don’t wait long to sample their purchase.
Josh Edelson
Many customers don’t wait long to sample their purchase.

The man shakes his head and waves his hand, as if shaking off a panhandler. Trey, shifting his gaze, makes eye contact with a woman in a red shirt and black leggings walking the other way. He reverses directions.

"Weed?"

She slows down, and says, "Sorry, I'm broke right now, but you gon' be out here tomorrow?"

"Same spot every day, baby," he replies with an exaggerated grin.

He steps back to the wall for a short break. He doesn't want to attract too much attention to himself.

A deep gash runs down the right side of his face, from temple to cheek. On a late night a few months ago, he got jumped by a group of guys while walking to the BART station after work. He doesn't know why. A knife slashed him as he fought back.

"Woulda been killed, throat slit or something, if the police didn't show up," he says.

Each second he's trippin', he's losing money, though. So the slight smile returns to his face and he's back on the grind.

"Weed?"

Success. The customer is a young man in a flat-billed Miami Dolphins cap and loose black jeans. The salesman and customer turn up Jones Street and its one-way traffic. Trey pulls out a $40 eighth balled up in plastic wrap and trades it for the cash.

"'Preciate it," says the customer. Trey tips his head, and the customer heads back toward Market.

The customer turns right, crosses Jones, and finds a seat on a bench, at the base of the Renoir Hotel 30 yards or so from where he made the buy. New purchase cupped in one hand, he tugs his jeans a couple inches downward with the other, forming a makeshift denim table at his lap.

"I wasn't too keen on getting a medical card," the consumer says, crushing two nuggets of weed with his fingers and dusting the flakes onto the denim table. "I mean, ain't like it's hard to find weed."

He grabs a blueberry Swisher from his pocket, unwraps it, and slices open the thick brown paper with his thumbnail, dumping the tobacco onto the pavement. He gently sprinkles in the weed, rolls the blunt, licks it sealed, and lights it.

The benches directly opposite the hustlers are packed, with suitcase-carrying drifters, tourists resting their feet, and smokers eager to sample the high. There aren't many seating areas near this part of Market Street. During the urban renewal days of the 1970s the city installed around a dozen black granite slabs along the sidewalks. But in 1996, with business owners complaining about the homeless people setting up camp at the benches, the city removed them.

These seats are new, built in July as part of an effort to beautify the area. The wooden planks are attached to planter boxes alive with vegetation. At one of them sits Julian Dash, who runs Trailhead, a new, community-focused boutique denim store and café at the Jones and Market corner. From his daily perch at his sewing machine, he can see people dealing their product. He doesn't mind. Dash offers the familiar faces half-price discounts on merchandise, as well as complimentary sewing classes. One 15-year-old hustler, he says, comes in for lessons several times a week.

"They've had their business on the block much longer than I have," says Dash, slapping hands with a few passing locals. "I pay respects where respects are due."

While Dash speaks, he politely turns down the advances of various peddlers. A man in a beige suit offers a watch. A large man in a black hat jingles some $4 bracelets.

The block is full of hustlers. There's the guy selling used VHS tapes on a picnic blanket. The guy selling a laptop. The lady with the plastic bag full of '90s DVDs. The man selling the fixie bike. There's Richard, who is selling moist towelettes and Muni transfer slips, and happily declares, "The police here are real cool. They let people do their thing. Everybody's just tryna make a living, man. Outside of here, everywhere else, it's like a police state."

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4 comments
Guerro
Guerro like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is why blacks and raza are arrested disproportionately for drug crimes.  They sell in the street for fuck's sake.  Tontos!

hplovecraft
hplovecraft topcommenter

    ..And , according to the story , 'not' necessarily out

of 'economic desperation' , either...but that be profilin'...

jonpidock
jonpidock

When you have dope addicts and crack heads openly selling and using hard drugs on the block of Turk and Jones, which is a block away from the police substation, why you chose to write a story and give the front page to a bunch of nickle baggers selling weed is beyond me. Dont encourage them by letting them think what they are doing is actually news worthy.

hplovecraft
hplovecraft topcommenter

"Crapshootin' , "Back on Track".. District supervisor and mayor unresponsive..allowing

the trade to happen [ as a way to thumb their noses at the Federal level of gov't.]. What a

terrible mess this once beautiful city's become...and the parties responsible will get

re-elected or reappointed.. City voters elect them so they can champion the causes for

dope dealers 'from outside' the city and county of S.F..

 
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