From the Archives: Return of the Lady Dealer (1975)

“Women dealers live by the code more than men, because they have no protection but their honesty.”
Courtesy High Times

Many people met their first lady dealer in High Times #1, when we interviewed “Lynne,” a young New York City artist whose frank statements on dope, dealing and sexism caused a flurry of letters to the editor and, apparently, considerable controversy in households and dealing pads across the country.

Then, a year-and-a-half ago, a lady dealer seemed like an unusual creature. Now, the women’s liberation movement has fostered a new force on the dope marketing scene: a growing army of lady dealers. Able to move through all levels of society and across borders at the donning of a skirt, lady dealers are gaining new independence from a business once dominated by men—and more and more women are dealing with other women.

A woman can deal dope as well as the next guy, it seems, and her clientele has been readied by years of “consciousness raising.” Lynne is a veteran of all this, and like many other lady dealers, she is gradually coming into her own. Dealing allows her to do things and see things that would otherwise have been off limits. To a young woman who wants financial independence, dealing has the lure of quick money, good weed and incredible freedom.

Despite the controversy of our last interview, we invited Lynne back into the pages of High Times to talk once again about her life and the phenomenon of the lady dealer.

High Times: How is your life different now from a year ago?

Lynne: Well, last year I was still spinning from my split-up with a man. Since then I’ve become much more confident and secure about being on my own. I’m living in a new place, a totally anonymous apartment building uptown. I’ve changed my name. But I’m still doing the same thing—dealing.

On the same level?

Strangely enough, yes. For a while I was dealing five, ten, and twenty pound lots. Then the supply dried up, and now I’m back to dealing singles and fives. And, of course, ounces to those people I choose to bother with. My friends.

Any hassles with the police?

Not directly. I was working for an association that got busted, but I wasn’t there the night the raid came down. So I was safe.

What do you mean by an association?

This was a warehouse where assorted dealers would come and either buy or sell. Sort of a commodities exchange. I was a broker.

What did your duties entail?

Taking orders, filling them, counting the money, recording the transaction, and the usual social amenities that any broker has to go through with a client.

Did you like working for the association?

I loved it. I’ve never seen so much dope, of all kinds, in my life. And as an employee, I was able to get it at a substantial discount.

Did you encounter sex discrimination in your work for the association?

Generally speaking, no. The association itself treated men and women as equally as they could. Some of the people we dealt with were pretty fucked up, though.

For example?

One time I went to deliver a sample to a dealer. He took it but refused to consummate the deal with me, because he said he didn’t deal with women. I went back and told the chairman of the association, and he called up the dude and told him that we wouldn’t deal with anyone on that basis and that he’d have to deal with association women or be cut off. The dude quickly changed his mind.

It sounds like the association was pretty powerful.

Not really. They were relatively small—even their weights were small—but they were well organized. It was a business of the future. It was fun working with them.

What happened to them?

After the raid, which was brought down by an accident of some type, the association dissolved.

How has the dope supply been lately?

It’s been harder and harder to get. Sometimes the price jumps a hundred dollars a pound in one day! I can’t get weight any more, even though I have excellent connections. But I’ve learned not to judge my success by the amount of weight I move. The amount of money I’m making is the real index of success, and the time and hassle it takes. I’m much more pleasure-oriented now instead of success-oriented.

Why’s that?

Because I think now I have more security, more confidence in my ability to survive. Knowing, really knowing and accepting that my survival is covered. I can lay back and reevaluate my scene.

What has this meant in your case?

For one thing, I’ve cut off a lot of people who were annoyances to me. People who had psychological problems that surfaced in the way they dealt with me. You know, picky people, people who tried to cut corners, pull little ripoffs, people who didn’t pay their debts—I consider this kind of behavior a manifestation of psychological problems.

Another way that I have changed my scene is that I don’t let dealing dominate my life the way it used to. People used to call me at all hours of the day and night. I waited and kept other people waiting for hours—there were constant phone calls back and forth about availabilities, prices, descriptions, delivery arrangements and so on. Now, I refuse to even talk on the phone. People come over, bring money, do a transaction on the spot. If I tell them to come over, then I have the stuff. If I don’t call them, they’re instructed not to bother me unless they have something to sell. As you might imagine, it’s sort of a seller’s market, so I can get away with this. Which is good, because before, my whole life was built around dealing. Now I deal only in the mid-evening, and never on weekends. I find that I move much more dope in the long run at much greater profit, with minimum hassle, no incriminating phone calls. I have now put dealing in proper perspective—it’s an important part of my life, but not all pervasive. I spend a lot more money on myself, rather than reinvesting it in “the business,” and I try to plan ahead to have nothing but a good time.

Do you think women have been feeling this dope shortage more than men?

Well, it’s probably true that women have had less dope to deal and smoke lately than men, but men feel the pinch more. They need it to boost their egos and to treat their girls.

Are women doing anything to alleviate the shortage?

In my own case, I have arranged with several other women to score weed for me and transport it back here to the city. One of them sits on the source of supply, another one does the courier service, and I do the selling.

I also understand that you’re putting a smuggling trip together.

I’m trying. I’ve hired a captain, and crew who have a boat, and I picked up a connection in Jamaica. All we’re waiting for now is all the pieces to line up.

If it works out, maybe we can do an interview with a lady smuggler.

Either that or a lady inmate.

Do you think there are more women dealers now than two years ago?



The same reason there are more women working in all other areas, plus one additional reason. Women are locked out of many conventional jobs. Many women are forced to work far below their natural level, but in dealing, you can go as far as you’re able.

Are you saying there’s no sexism in dealing?

Of course not. In fact, dealing is one of the last preserves of machodom. The fact that it’s a crime puts so many guys on a Bogart trip, and after all it is the, you know, underworld—the dealing scene is never entirely free of plain violent human misfits that really need all that secrecy and sense of danger. But women can deal to other women, you know. And there are many, many dealers who are glad to buy and sell with anybody who has good weed at good prices. The outlaw nature of the business makes us all outlaws together, and there is a camaraderie that transcends, for the moment, the sexist conditioning we’re all given. It’s nice.

Have you encountered any violence in the last year?

No physical violence, although plenty of mental violence.

What do you mean by mental violence?

Oh, I guess I mean people who do cruel things that are just as unjust, destructive and intense as a smack in the mouth, like being ripped off in the middle of the night for dope.

How do you deal with violence? What would you do if someone tried to rape you in the middle of a deal?

What would you do?

It’s never happened to me.

Me either. I think I’d throw up.

Do you have any way of protecting yourself? Karate? A gun?

No, the only thing I would use would be something incapacitating but nonviolent. I have a can of mace I carry in my purse. I’ve never had to use it. Any scene that looks like trouble. I get away from it. There are too many safe and honest scenes to bother with fucked up people.

Do you ever deal anything besides smoke?

No. I like cocaine, and I do it occasionally, but I won’t deal it. The people into it are usually pretty heavy, and so are the laws, the cops and the judges. I don’t need it, so I don’t take any risk I don’t have to.

How about other kinds of dope?

Mushrooms occasionally. I used to deal speed very heavily in the mid-Sixties, but no more. No. I’m a weed dealer.

Do you think dealers smoke better weed than the public?

There’s no question about it. The dealers are by definition closer to the source of supply, and there’s an extremely limited supply of the very best smoke, and it’s so expensive that few people other than dealers can afford it. Little of the connoisseur-level stuff gets to the public. I know that I smoke much better stuff than my nondealer friends, unless they bought it from me. On the other hand, my main connection probably smokes better stuff than I do.

Has it been harder to get where you are because you’re a woman?

For sure, but it’s not nearly as rough in dealing as it is in the art world. It’s much better, now that I have some capital, than it was a year ago, when I needed credit fronted. I still see men getting better deals than me, and getting preference in choice and so on, but smart businessmen don’t fuck with me.

Do women deal differently than men?

Yes. I think they’re into accuracy more. They live more by the code, because they have no protection except their honesty.

Haven’t you ever heard of lady dealers who were into violence?

I’ve heard of instances of women taking on violence, but never of women initiating it. The only time I personally know of a lady involved in violence, it was an offshoot of a deal her old man had made.

Do you think marijuana causes violence?

(Laughter) Only in bed. Have you ever noticed how much sexuality there is in pot smoking? You know, two men passing a cigarette back and forth, their hands touching, sucking on the joint, staring at each other. It’s a very sensual situation, and I think one of the reasons dope smoking is popular is that it creates a sensual setting that is socially acceptable. Men can get into each other in a human way without being called queers. In dealing, gay people seem to be very accepted, for example.

It’s a form of oral gratification.

Right. I consider it pure pleasure to smoke good weed, and it enables me to get down with both men and women.

Are you bisexual?

Not yet.

Did that interview with you in High Times have much effect on your life?

Very few of my friends knew it was me, so it had no effect in that manner. I mean, I could have been a minor celebrity if I had wanted to be uncool, but I plan to stay in business, and people who do that don’t advertise, at least not under their real names. But it had a definite effect on me. I think seeing myself in print made what I was doing more real and therefore more satisfying and easier to get a grip on. I’ve learned a lot from High Times in the last year, too. I appreciate the fact that High Times seems to be trying to address itself to women as well as men.

Would you want your children to be dealers?

If I had children, I wouldn’t object, but I think that marijuana will be legal by then. Other things may not be legal, and I hope my children will do what they consider moral rather than what the laws dictate. I do.

Are you opposed to the social system as it now exists?

Definitely. And dealing shows my opposition. I feel that as long as I’m opposing the system, I might as well be getting paid for it. In dealing I can do that, but I’d do it for nothing if that’s what it took to spread marijuana around. I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to say that marijuana is good for society, but I certainly feel that the suppression of marijuana is bad for society.

High Times Magazine, Dec/Jan 1975

Read the full issue here.

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