10.23.2020 | Busted!

The car that pulled up behind us had blue and red flashing lights. Angela, my girlfriend at the time, let out a quiet, “oh shit.” My friend Mark, sitting in the backseat, put the pipe he was holding down between his feet. My friend Rodney, who was sitting outside the car on the curb slowly raised his hands in the air as the cops got out and surrounded our car. Friday night, March 1985, had just taken a bad turn.

As I just mentioned, it was Friday night. I had just gotten paid and we were on our way to Hollywood to go dancing. Angela had picked me and Mark up at my house just a half an hour earlier. She had a friend with her named Sydney (not her real name) who she knew from University. Sydney was about as innocent as they come, but wanted to go dancing. This was her first time going to Hollywood.

We started out the evening by heading down to Newport Beach, where my dealer lived. My dealer at the time was a wonderful lady named Leslie. She was married and had two kids. Her brother was one of my best friends, it was a typical mid-80s pot dealer situation. I went into the house as everyone waited in the car. Leslie had some really great Skunk buds and some hash. Because I just got paid I wanted both. I bought an eighth of buds and a quarter of hash.

My friend Rodney was visiting his sister and followed me out to the car so we could have a smoke before we took off. I packed a nice bowl of the Skunk buds, which all of us except Sydney were enjoying when the red and blue lights pulled up. It turned out that Angela had parked in a red zone.

The police did a quick search of the car and found the pipe between Mark’s feet. That led to all of us being lined up along side the car, as the cops searched each one of us. I was wearing baggy, tweed pants and the cops didn’t find the herb and hash in my pocket on the first check. So we went through a second round of questioning…

Sydney, who had never experienced anything like this, told the cops that I was holding. Thanks Sydney! I was searched a second time and this time they turned my pockets inside out. There was the eighth of herb in a baggie and the quarter ounce of hash wrapped in aluminum foil sitting in the cops hand. Bingo – we have a suspect in the war on drugs! Possession of hashish – a felony.

I was quickly handcuffed and placed in the back of the cop car and they hauled me off to the Newport Beach jail. I sat in a cell with no one else around. I was the only prisoner that evening. Two boring hours passed before I was bailed out by Angela.

Sydney couldn’t look me in the eyes when I got in the car. Which was good because I was pretty mad at her. I, of course, undaunted, suggested we go buy some more herb. It was Friday night and I wanted to get stoned. Angela killed the idea and we headed to LA to go dancing. I now had a felony hanging over my head.

The Consequences

About a month later I had to go to court. Luckily I appeared in front of Judge Gray, a judge that went on to write a scathing book about the drug war, and my felony was reduced to a misdemeanor – I was sentenced to drug classes. I paid a big fine, the amount of I don’t remember now. All-in-all, it was a slap on the wrist compared to what a person-of-color would have experienced. Sad but true in the United States – white privilege was (and is) very much alive.

Years later, that experience, obviously, didn’t deter me from smoking the herb! Every week, after my drug class was over, I’d head over to my friend Mike’s house, just around the corner, and get stoned.

The drug war – a huge waste of money, lives and time! Time to move on and set the people free!

Until next week, be safe – and best of health!

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