He smokes weed, reviews it and writes about it.

After a career in the printing industry, Joe Tierney paved a path (and a punch) to the growing commercialization of cannabis.

WASHINGTON — After thirteen years in the printing business, Joe Tierney decided it was time for something different.

There was a buzz across America and money to be made in the marijuana industry as states followed Colorado’s lead and began to legalize and license the sale of cannabis products.

Tierney wanted to know everything he could about marijuana. But to make money you need money. And he couldn’t afford the massive pay cut he needed to apprentice and work his way up the ladder at a California cultivation facility.

He was also unable to get a job at a DC pharmacy due to his lack of experience in the industry.

The turning point came in 2014 when DC voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 71, which legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“I really wanted to be a part of Initiative 71,” Tierney said, meeting WUSA9 at Legacy DC on U Street. “Honestly, starting a blog was the cheapest way to get into the marijuana industry.”

His website and blog, ‘The Gentleman Toker’, is now his full-time job. His readers are not only from DC, but from all over the country and in different parts of the world.

“This is my whole goal with starting the site. To educate people about what quality cannabis is,” said Tierney. “And tell them these are things to avoid.”

When I called Tierney a “Sheba sommelier” the comparison between what he does and a wine connoisseur and him resonated. He explained that culturally we are at the same time with weed as we were with wine 20 to 30 years ago.

But Tierney quickly turns to explain that his reviews don’t read like snooty wine descriptions.

“I’ve always tried to write about (marijuana) in a fun way. I actually wanted to avoid that,” Tierney said.

Distinguishing between different marijuana strains is Tierney’s specialty. Differences can be noticed with the color of the marijuana for sale, as well as with the smell.

“There’s something sweet about it,” Tierney says, lowering his mask and sniffing a jar of platinum bubba kush. “It’s generally earthy, but you can pick up some sweet notes. Basically, if it smells good to you. If it tastes good to you, that’s great stuff right there.”

“Good weed smells good. It tastes good,” Tierney said. “If you don’t like it, it probably hasn’t been grown the best.”

In addition to reviews, Tierney also writes other articles. For example, one article highlighted “five places to explore while stoned in DC.”

“Recently I did my five great places to smoke in DC,” Tierney added. “That’s complicated by the fact that a lot of DC is federal land. The scenic places fall on these lines.”

I wondered if that meant the Lincoln Memorial was banned from smoking blunts.

“Certainly not during the day, you might get rid of that at midnight,” Tierney said.

As DC moves closer to commercializing marijuana, Tierney is closely monitoring the DC Council and its progress. He is convinced that he has taken the right step with his career switch.

“It was a wild ride,” Tierney said. “I didn’t want a boring job and I didn’t get one.”

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