How to Deal Pot in Prison

By Seth Ferranti 05/03/13

ChapSticks play an important role in distributing weed behind bars, prisoners tell The Fix.

"That'll be one sweatsuit and a watch."
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Smoking pot is one way many prisoners pass the time. "I like to get stoned every day," an inmate tells The Fix. "It makes my day go by and mellows me out so I don't feel like killing one of these motherfuckers." Prisoners use all kinds of creative tactics to get the drug inside, but that's just the first step: It then needs to be distributed to consumers. Dealers often use caps from ChapStick containers as ideal tools for measuring out the weed. "A cap makes about four skinny joints—and I mean super-skinny," the inmate explains. "Each joint lasts for about four or five hits." After it's measured out, the weed is deposited in a folded up and taped in a piece of paper—usually from the corner of an envelope. "If you got an ounce of marijuana you can get like 60 caps of weed out of it," he tells us. "They sell for $25 each or five caps for a $100 send-in. The way it breaks down is you can get at least $1,200 for an ounce. But if you do get send-outs to cover your people's expenses for the cost of the weed and the visit, you can get a lot more in commissary and keep your locker stocked while smoking the bud up and staying stoned. It’s a good move."

To pay for their goods, cash-strapped prisoners will often barter with items bought from the commissary (prison store), like books of stamps (valued at $6 for 20), shoes, watches, mp3 players, radios, sweatsuits and more. "Everything is currency in prison," says the inmate. "I get my girl to bring me something on the VI once every couple of months and it pays for the weed and her visit, and keeps me high and prison-rich."

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.