Geschrieben am 1. April 2023 von für Crimemag, CrimeMag April 2023

Nick Kolakowski: Smoking Gun (14) – Weed

Weed-Based Crime Thrillers are Going Up in Smoke

Last weekend, as I was driving through the snowy wastes of New England, I spied a sign for a legal weed dispensary. I don’t generally partake in pot—whiskey and the very occasional cigar have always been my vices—but I was so intrigued by the novelty that I pulled into the dispensary’s parking lot.

Before I even climbed out of the car, I thought: If I were a character in one of my books, how would I rob this place?(This is the crime writer’s gift and curse; we’re always idly wondering how to knock places and people off.) First, I had to wait on the dispensary’s quaint porch while a camera bolted to the reinforced doorframe studied my face, trying to read my intent. Next, the door buzzed, and I was admitted into a small, bright foyer where a grandmotherly woman checked my driver’s license.

That check completed, another door buzzed open, and I wandered into a barn-sized chamber that looked like an Apple Store, complete with pale lighting, blonde-wood tables, and smiling attendants in uniforms. Cameras in the room’s corners and a reinforced steel door behind a counter hinted at security measures just out of sight, but the space was a welcoming one. You could rob it, but who would want to ruin the gentle vibe? 

As my attendant described the “transformative mellowness” on offer, I kept thinking about movies like “The Gentlemen,” “Savages,” and “Pineapple Express,” in which weed is illegal and worth a lot of bloodshed, as well as the nearly infinite number of crime films, books, and TV shows with plots hinging on weed trafficking. 

More and more U.S. states have legalized weed over the past few years, anxious for the resulting tax revenue. And as I stood in this quiet little dispensary off a two-lane road in a Massachusetts border town, listening to a kid describe the biological mechanisms behind THC and CBD, I wondered whether it’ll be too many years before federal legalization. Because I’m a crime writer, my next thought was: That’ll make a lot of movies seem really antiquated. 

Indeed, in a decade or two, a movie like “Savages” (directed by Oliver Stone; two weed-growers in Southern California go to war against a Mexican drug cartel that wants to absorb their business; overwrought but compelling in parts) might seem as much a historical relic as, say, “The Untouchables.” Perhaps that’s inevitable; crime fiction is a product of its time, and times change; hardly anyone writes Prohibition novels anymore for a reason. But having lived nearly my whole life amidst an expensive, loud (and largely failing) “War on Drugs,” this particular change also seems startling to me.

Before heading back into the snowstorm, I bought a little packet of CBD that would supposedly lessen inflammation while boosting my brainpower. If I were a professional criminal, it wouldn’t have been worth robbing the place: the products were incredibly cheap, and likely kept in a borderline-impregnable safe room when not on display. But if I were a crime writer whose plots involved illegal weed in any kind of capacity, a significant re-write might be in order… unless you’re crafting a period piece. 

Nick Kolakowski is the author of „Maxine Unleashes Doomsday“ and „Boise Longpig Hunting Club“ as well as the Love & Bullets trilogy of novellas. His noir fiction has appeared in Tough, ThugLit, Mystery Tribune, Plots With Guns, and various anthologies. Brandnew: his „Payback is Forever“ (Shotgun Honey 2022), inspired clearly by the novels of Richard Stark. Our review here (in German). – Just out: Hell of a Mess. A Love & Bullets Hookup.

Nick Kolakowski, geboren 1980, aufgewachsen in Washington. D.C., hat Geschichte in Chicago studiert. Er schreibt Romane, Kurzgeschichten, Lyrik und Essays, viele davon über Crime Fiction und verwandte Themen. Seine Texte erscheinen u. a. in der Washington Post, in Shotgun Honey, North American Review, The Evergreen Review, Rust & Months. Kolakowski lebt in New York City. Eine Besprechung des von Parker inspirierten „Payback is Forever“ in unseren Bloody Chops.

Bei Suhrkamp auf Deutsch: Love & Bullets.
His essays with us

His column „Smoking Gun“ with us: 
‘The Last of Us’: Crime in the Post-Apocalypse 
What Made “Glass Onion” and “Knives Out” So Popular?
Jordan Harper’s One-Two Punch of Crime Fiction Deserves a Wide Audience
‘True Detective’ Season 2: Was It Better Than We All Thought?
From ‘Touch of Evil’ to ‘True Detective,’ Long Shots are Crime Films’ Secret Weapon
Michael Mann, again: What Michael Mann Teaches Us About Enduring Crime Fiction
„Heat 2“ – How Do You Craft a Sequel to a Masterpiece?
4 Ways Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” Novel Stands Out From the Film.
On „Heat“: Manhunter Takes Down Thief: How Michael Mann’s Early Career Led to ‘Heat’
The Most Honest Nihilism – on „The Way of the Gun“
No, Time to Die – The latest James Bond movie digs into the fatalism at the iconic spy’s core.
Cormac McCarthy’s Overlooked Masterpiece? – „The Councelor“
Nightmare Alley“ – How Guillermo del Toro’s Film Alters a Masterpiece Noir Novel
David Cronenberg – The Carnal Crime of “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises”
With Parker, Donald E. Westlake Pulled Off Crime Fiction’s Most Spectacular Magic Trick
Guy Ritchie’s Return to Crime Films is Worth Watching

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