This Dude Gets Paid to Smoke Weed and Write About It

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Jake Browne gets stoned for a living.

And while getting high professionally may sound like a relatively lax career in the grander context of the job sphere, Browne is essentially Denver’s resident sommelier when it comes to weed strains -- he’s a marijuana connoisseur. As the official pot critic for the Denver Post’s marijuana section, The Cannabist, Browne gets paid to visit local dispensaries, talk to “bud-tenders,” and of course, smoke tons of pot.

“When I do a review I always pick an activity that I think would pair well with the high that I’m going to get from that strain,” Browne said in the premiere episode of Thrillist’s “Job Goals” on Facebook Watch. “Something energetic for a hike or seeing live music, or weed that’s more focused if I’m hosting a dinner party.”

After sampling a cannabis strain, typically on assignment, Browne will sit and take notes on the experience: his physical, sensory, and psychological reactions to the green stuff -- from paranoia levels and food-cravings to euphoria and lethargy -- before he structures it all into a formal review. On certain occasions, Browne will focus his writing around a weed-centric activity, say, a fiction-writing workshop where being high is a mandatory prerequisite. While he typically tries not to write for work while high, the occasional stoned report is relatively difficult to avoid, as you can imagine. All in all, he’s the city’s most prolific pot head.

So how does one score a gig like that? Browne jokingly points to the days of smoking in his car as a sophomore in high school with his debate team, Ben Folds Five CDs playing on the stereo. He worked as a bartender after graduating from college in Denver (in true, young pothead fashion), and got his start in the pot business as a bud-tender in a dispensary. He then moved on to work as a weed-buyer, spending his days assessing cannabis samples coming in from various independent growers.

“People would bring duffle bag after duffle bag of pot in,” he said. “And I would have to say if it was any good -- I started learning about all these different strains, and then I just started writing about it.” Now, among the first legal authors of public pot commentary, Browne sits as the prodigal forefather to the industry of weed journalism.  

“Being a pot critic is tough in that there’s no rubric for it,” Browne told Thrillist. “But if you want to do what I do, start smoking a lot of pot and go put some words down.”

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Eliza Dumais believes there are no excuses for listening to that much Ben Folds Five.