There's no shortage of stories, anecdotes, and content for a bartender. Here's one who is now a published author selling thousands of books. The first book aims to satisfy the curiosity surrounding the legalization of marijuana in the first state to legalize; Colorado. Ask Me Anything!

Johnny Welsh
Aug 24, 2018

Living and bartending in the mountains of Colorado has been quite the journey with the legalization of marijuana over the past few years. I am inundated with questions from tourists, visitors, and out-of-state guests about the new industry. I don't know why they ask the local bartender, but they do. This has led to many funny stories and anecdotes that was the beginning of a new book. Add to that some research and interviews from the trailblazers and an award-winning book was born.

My first book titled, Weedgalized in Colorado: True Tales From the High Country has recently won a five-star award from Readers' Favorites. It took two full years of writing and editing and it has been a rewarding life milestone.

Five more books are now in the works. The next one, Paper Maps, No Apps: A Sixteen Day Smart Phone Cleanse was another topic/observation from the pulpit of tending bar. Recent observations have me believing that there might be a smartphone addiction epidemic on the horizon. This book is a humorous and self-deprecating look at our habits starting with me. Due to be published in the fall of 2018. 

I love to talk about the writing and publishing process. My crazy idea of taking popular bar topics/observations and turning them into books has been an amazing endeavour.  I love to share what I have learned and enjoyed discussing the topics just as well.

johnny 4.jpg

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How long did it take you to write Weedgalized in Colorado and what parts of the research process were more challenging?
Aug 26, 7:28PM EDT0

It took me ten months to write Weedgalized and then a year and a half to edit. Sometimes editing takes longer than writing the actual book. That is a good thing. You never want to rush or shortchange the editing process. It makes all the difference. As far as research, the most challenging part was tracking down the owners of the new businesses. Things were moving at a rapid pace to get the proper licensing and new companies up and running. The owners were being pulled in many directions for business reasons and also for media curiosity.

Aug 28, 5:05PM EDT0
How was the social process of legalizing Marijuana in Colorado? What was the response of the general public to this?
Aug 26, 6:55PM EDT0


Based on my observations as a bartender, people seemed pretty immune to the fact that it was being legalized. Those who had experience knew that it was here long before legalization. Those who had no experience didn't know what to expect and awaited to hear from research and events unfolding. 

Aug 28, 5:07PM EDT0
What else is coming? Are there any other substances that are on the waiting list for legalization?
Aug 26, 4:46PM EDT0

I think the hemp industry is on that waiting list for a whole different series of uses. Other than that, I just hear of the debates as to what should or shouldn't be next. I steer clear of those debates while I'm bartending. It's like politics at the bar; it doesn't mix well with alcohol.

Aug 28, 5:01PM EDT0
How do you manage your time between bartending, writing and your personal life?
Aug 26, 3:11PM EDT0

Hello Marco,

I have not always been successful at managing my time. Sometimes I have to schedule my time or wake up an hour early before anyone else is up. A lot of my content comes from stories created at the bar and I write them down on bar napkins and old receipts. Eventually I organize these together and form the stories and anecdotes.

Aug 28, 4:59PM EDT0
From bartender to award-winning author, what have been the highlights of your journey?
Aug 26, 1:29PM EDT0

Hello Shahriar H,

Two days stand out in my mind. The first was when I received the first copy of my book for review. Holding the book in my hands was so fulfilling. It has been a life dream of mine to be an author. It was an emotional day full of fun photo ops!! The second day was when I received the email  that my book won the five star review award. My other dream was to write well enough for others to learn and enjoy. 

Aug 28, 4:57PM EDT0
Do you think you will sometime in the future use your publishing company to publish other authors? Is this something you had in mind when incorporating it?
Aug 26, 12:47PM EDT0

Hello Blacklava,

Yes, this thought has crossed my mind. I will be publishing all my books that I write first. Then, I'll be working on a template to help others publish once I am more proficient in this industry. That is still a few years down the road.

Aug 28, 4:53PM EDT0
Most authors struggle when it comes to marketing of their books. What marketing techniques are you using that you find effective?
Aug 26, 11:28AM EDT0

Hello Rizza,

That is correct, marketing can be a struggle and I have experienced that. One thing I did that made a difference was to find specialty outlets to sell my books. Bookstores are great but there are thousands of titles to compete with. I placed my book in dispensaries where there aren't many books at all and also in souvenir stores. My  book has the flag of Colorado on the front so it can be sold where Colorado souvenirs are sold. It is an historical look at what happened with legalization and tourists are very curious. Other marketing techniques include writing a lot of emails and sending out press releases.

Aug 28, 4:52PM EDT0
If you had to describe your style of writing, what would you say?
Aug 26, 10:57AM EDT0

Hello Sebby26,

Thank you for this question. I try to write the same way that I would speak to someone at my bar. I'd say my style is very convesational and not too complex. Where I work is a restaurant/bar so I am able to carry on conversations. 

Aug 28, 4:38PM EDT0
What are some of your worries on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado?
Aug 26, 1:25AM EDT0

Hello Terry,

Good question. There are legitmate worries about legalization. As with anything in life, there can be a tendency to overdo it. The same goes with marijuana although it may be more subtle. I don't like to see people smoking in public places because it is disrespectful to those that are opposed. Yes, we did legalize but that does not mean it needs to be thrown in the face of opposition. I'd like to see a healthy respect from both sides of legalization.

Aug 28, 4:35PM EDT0
Are there restrictions (as those seen for tobacco) on where the use of Marijuana is allowed? What are these restrictions like?
Aug 24, 7:29PM EDT0

Yes, there are many restrictions. It can't be in national forest or on federal land. You can't smoke in any public places or in the streets. The saftest place to consume is in a private residence where there aren't already homeowner or association restrictions in place already.

Aug 24, 11:23PM EDT0

Also, it is a good idea to check with local law enforcement for the complete set of laws and regulations in whichever jurisdiction you may be in since it is different in many towns. 

Aug 24, 11:25PM EDT0
How would you describe the social atmosphere in Colorado after Marijuana was legalized? What has changed?
Aug 24, 5:43PM EDT1

It is more accepted now that it has been four years. The first year was crazy because it was like kids in a candy store, but it has quieted down and it's not a big deal anymore. We still get marijuana tourists but it feels like it did before, just more people.

Aug 24, 11:18PM EDT0
Why do you say you have an impending smartphone addiction?
Aug 24, 3:04PM EDT0

Hello Erik,

To clarify, I think I meant that there may be a smartphone addiction epidemic on the rise and that is based on my observations as a bartender of twenty-six years. The past five years or so I have seen an increase of smartphone use at the bar and restaurant tables that is hard to ignore. I remember when the whole bar would interact with conversations the entire time I worked and this was every shift. Now, nobody talks and they are glued to their phones so much that they don't even look up. Many of my fellow bartenders at dozens of bars are noticing the same events happening.

Aug 24, 11:14PM EDT0
How has your life changed after writing Weedgalized in Colorado: True Tales from the High Country?
Aug 24, 11:27AM EDT0

Not much has changed. I'm still the same person and I love bartending. I do get asked when my next book is coming out. People ask me almost every shift about it.

Aug 24, 11:22PM EDT0
What has changed about your job as a bartender in Colorado after Marijuana was made legal?
Aug 24, 9:29AM EDT0

The bar is a lot busier due to the population increase in Colorado. There have been millions of people that have moved to the state since legalization. 2.1 million to be exact. It can't really be proved that it is because of legalization but if I, as a bartender, ask ten people, eight will say yes.

Aug 24, 11:17PM EDT0
What economic changes have you seen in Colorado after the legalization of Marijuana?
Aug 23, 7:17AM EDT0

A ton of new companies have risen up to create and sell new products. There are jobs all throughout the industry from horticulture to installing lights for grow houses to cookbooks. It's all fair game. Not all the folks are successful, but they are trying. We have also seen an increase in population which means housing is short and rents have gone up.

Aug 24, 11:10PM EDT0
What is the craziest story you've witnessed while working as a bartender?
Aug 23, 2:42AM EDT0

One time a guy told me he would give me a $1000 tip if I came out from behind the bar and hit him. He was a crazy real estate developer and liked to get rowdy and wrestle around. So, I hit him and got $1000. That is the craziest. I didn't hit him hard and was careful not to hurt him so I didn't feel all too bad about it. It was kind of funny.

Aug 24, 11:07PM EDT0

Does having five more books in the works, imply that you are going to dedicate yourself to being a full-time author and leave the bartender life?

Aug 23, 2:22AM EDT0

Hello Neil,

As of right now, I will continue to bartend. This is where I get a lot of ideas and even more content. It has been good to me and I enjoy it. I don't know if I will ever completly stop. I am part time now so I can write more. Thanks for the response.

Aug 24, 11:05PM EDT0
How did the idea to write this book come to you?
Aug 22, 10:07PM EDT0

Out of state visitors, tourists, and guests would ask me what it was really like to live in the first state to have legalized marijuana. Stories would be told and everyone chimed in with a story of their own. There was so much curiosity, I felt compelled to document this unprecedented time in history in the form of a book.

Aug 24, 11:20PM EDT0
What topics do you cover in your book Weedgalized in Colorado: True Tales from the High Country?
Aug 22, 8:33PM EDT0

Hi Andrea,

I covered a quick history of marijuana and legalization laws. Then I interviewed many new companies that have started due to the new industry.  I captured their backgrounds, passions, and goals on how they might help people. I interviewed the sherriff and got the law enforcement's input on the subject. The rest are funny cultural and social observations in the form of anecdotes.

Aug 24, 11:04PM EDT0
What publishing method did you use for Weedgalized in Colorado, self-publishing or traditional publishing and what was the reason for your choice?
Aug 22, 5:51PM EDT0

Hi Bea.Justh,

I incorporated my own publishing company and published it myself. One reason is that I have about six more books to write and I will use the same company. The other reason was on the insistence of my publishing manager. Since I was writing about the legalization of cannabis in Colorado, I was the first to document the good, the bad, and the funny. Colorado was the first state to have legalized marijuana for sale. If I went the traditional route of finding a publisher, It would have taken at least another year. We wanted to be the first book from a post legalized state so that was a big reason. Hope this helps. Thanks for the question.

Aug 22, 7:42PM EDT0
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