By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Editor's note: Several weeks ago, theWeekly received a message from a man identifying himself as Jim. He said he had recently been arrested for marijuana possession in Newport Beach but now had an Orange County Superior Court notice ordering the police to return his marijuana because he has a doctor's note allowing him to smoke the drug under Proposition 215, the medical-marijuana initiative passed by voters in November 1996.
When we tried to reach Jim to find out whether he ever got his marijuana back, his telephone rang endlessly, but to no avail. Numerous other attempts to reach him were unsuccessful. Finally, we were able to leave a message for him, and just when we thought we'd never hear back from him, the elusive Jim called us once more. The following is his story, as told in his own words. We've changed all the names in this story:
My name is Jim, and I live in Topanga. I have lived in Orange County for a number of years. I was down in Balboa in May, and a police officer noticed I was tired and nodding my head while parked in a 1985 Volvo. The officer—his last name was Farr —charged me with sleeping in the car. The only ID I had was a photo ID for the LA Cannabis Resource Center. So then the police officer started searching the car and found three small bags of medical marijuana. He then wrote me a ticket for sleeping on the beach, wrote me another ticket for possession of marijuana, and then took it away.
I said, "There is a state law that allows me to have marijuana and smoke it."
Officer Farr of the Newport Beach PD said, "Not in this county there isn't."
After being ticketed there, I went to Laguna Beach. I saw two officers standing and talking on a street corner. I approached the two officers quietly and calmly, since it was 3 in the morning. I said, "I wonder what the policy of your department is on medical marijuana."
They said, "Listen, pal, that law does not fly down here in Orange County. We already arrested two of you guys for selling that shit. Now get out of my face right now or we'll arrest you, too."
I walked away and monitored their behavior. They just stood there talking for 1 hour and 45 minutes while a forest fire was raging just up the street. Those two officers spent almost two hours talking about their Marine Corps experiences—cutting animals open and eating their insides to survive. Meanwhile, there is a forest fire going on. They didn't make one radio call except to ask some lady back at the department if she wanted any doughnuts.
I went up the coast to Santa Ana. I went to Costa Mesa. I saw six officers and asked them the same question, and they all said, "Sir, if you have a doctor's note, you go home and have a swell evening."
I never got my medical marijuana back from Newport Beach. I went back to Newport and got busted by another officer for not paying the meter. I had been taking a toke while parked in my motor home, and I said I was a medical-marijuana smoker and he left. I started driving away a little later and got pulled over again by Officer Farr. I showed him my paperwork showing that the Superior Court said the marijuana should be returned. Farr said, "Boy, Jim, let me check you out one more time." After running my driver's license and checking my paperwork, he came back and said, "Be on your way, and please don't smoke and drive next time."
I said, "Thank you, Officer Farr, you sure have learned about the Compassionate Use Act."
I think things are getting better. The police are starting to understand what's going on.
I smoke marijuana because I have manic-depressive illness. I get manic only, not depressed. It started about the time I graduated from Harvard in 1968 with a B.A. in history. By the way, my great-uncle just passed away: John D. Cabot, of the Cabot family of Virginia—this family is just like the Kennedys, only Republican. They are the original Republicans in America.
I have been ill with a gifted illness. Thirty-three years ago, I had the stigmata of Christ on my forehead and was placed for 40 days and 40 nights at the Valley Head Mental Asylum back East. I was flying around with a halo, and my father called the cops. I was about 24 then. I had graduated and had two children and a pilot's license, among other things. I am a Harvard man and am running around in a state of euphoria.
They tried all sorts of drugs, but guess what happened? On the third day of solitary confinement—in the morning—my mental-health worker came into my room and saw in the corner a mahogany cross with a silver Christ on it and beautiful sandalwood beads. The health worker was Catholic and was attuned to the stigmata. He looked down and said, "Good God, how did this get here?" I'm sitting and smiling with a halo on my head, and soon enough, all the people at the hospital started calling me God.