I was, ironically, writing a paper on the Reagan-Bush drug wars when the knock came at the door.
Peering through the peephole I saw the concave images of a grinning janitor and next to him a Campus Police Officer all in blue, gun strapped to waist, lots of shiny silver; her hair pulled back into a honey-blonde ponytail. I opened the door.
“Someone reported the smell of marijuana coming from this apartment,” the officer said.
“Yes, that’s true.” I had long ago decided that there is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana but that it is wrong to lie about it. The janitor melted away as the police officer entered the apartment.
I produced the quarter-ounce baggie, less three or four joints, and handed it to her with great sadness. In the Midwest, after Ronald Reagan’s big crackdown in the late 1980s, the quality of marijuana available for purchase has had the same middle-of-the-road consistency and after a decade of mediocre smoke until the person who supplies our smoking circle, a person who marks up the product just enough to score a free ounce for themselves out of every pound sold, scored some really exceptional, golden weed; the effects of which deflated immediately when confronted by the police.
I also handed over the ashtray I’d been using along with the roach clip.
The ashtray had been a wedding present from Lovey Mitchell, owner of Wetzel’s Supermarket where I had worked in Owensboro, Kentucky. It was actually a heavy, pewter bread dish with God Bless This House scrolling across the top over farmers gathering wheat.
“Do you have anything to put this in?” the Officer asked. “The neighbors don’t need to know your business.”
I went into the kitchen and got a large brown grocery bag and handed to her.
“Doesn’t it bother you that the feather gets all dirty?” she asked, holding up the feathered end of the roach clip from the ashes.
“No, not really,” I replied.
She asked me some questions about where I got the weed and I lied through my teeth, telling her I got on a trip back home. That I was hanging with some old friend from high school and it was a friend of a friend who had it. I don’t even know his name really, Barry or Bobby, something with a B, I think; hoping against hope that she wouldn’t notice that I only have an Identification Card and wonder how I managed to get from Indiana to Kentucky or that she would pressure me to act as a Narc in a multi-State drug investigation but neither one happened.
“Do you smoke with your husband? She asked,”
“Oh no,” I lied, “His smoking vices are legal ones; Kool Filter Kings.”
“Do you smoke around your kids?” She asked and we both glanced to the table in the corner of the dining area where a green-framed 8x10 photo of a six-year-old Clint took pride of place; he looked pensive and hopeful.
“Do you see any kids?” I replied with a sweeping gesture.
She made a call over her police radio to members of the local Drug Enforcement Taskforce as I tried to mentally calculate how far away my apartment was from University Elementary.
We sat at the round maple dining room table waiting for the Taskforce to arrive. The Officer was about my age, in her late twenties, slim and pretty. She wore a plain gold band on her left hand.
“So, why do you get high?” the Officer asked.
“I wanted to watch All My Children,” I replied, pointing to the television where Erica Kane was going toe-to-toe with Adam Chandler. The Officer laughed. I didn’t find it very funny.
“What’s it like,” the Officer asked, “I mean, I’ve never smoked Pot.”
“Really?” I said, “Huh. Well, it’s like the smoke gets into the ridges and crevices of your brain and expands them.”
“Are you high now?” She asked.
I considered this.
“Maybe a little around the edges,” I replied, “but the adrenaline has mostly swamped the high.”
There was another knock at the door. The Taskforce had arrived.
They were both tall men, dark hair, in pastel dress shirts and ties. They looked around the living room-dining room, shook their heads and laughed and then left, leaving me alone again with the female Officer.
“I’d better be going,” she said, picking up the paper bag with my astray, roach clip and baggie of weed. She handed me her card.
“I believe you told me the truth,” she said, “Mostly. Give me a call if you think of anything else.”
“Thanks,” I said, relief starting to spread upwards from my toes.
“Listen,” she said, “I want you to know that you didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just that marijuana is illegal and it’s my job to keep it off the streets.”
I wanted to point out that we were in my apartment and not in the streets but felt it would be imprudent to do se. Plus I think she realized how silly her words said as she formed them, judging by the way her sentence kind of trailed off at the end.
After the Police Officer left I telephoned my husband and let him know what happened. I then called the Police Officer.
I hadn’t been read my rights and no one had told me I was under arrest so I called and asked her what to expect.
“You’ll get a letter in the mail explaining it,” she told me.
I then retrieved the joint I’d been smoking when the Police came knocking on my door, retreated to my bedroom, stuffed towels under the door, lit some incense and smoked the rest of it to calm the stress and raging paranoia from the events that had just transpired and because it would have been a shame to let such stuff go it waste, it’s kind having not been seen again in the decade or so since.
When the letter came it informed me that I had been placed in a pre-trial diversion for first time offenders, records not being electronic at the time what may have happened in Kentucky stayed in Kentucky. I had to pay a fine of about $268.00 dollars.
“Where’d you get the money,” the man behind the desk snarled at me as I counted out the cash, regretfully thinking of shoes.
“I work,” I said, “two jobs. It’s from my paycheck I just cashed today.”
“Just think of it as a weed tax,” my husband advised, “divide it by all the weed you’ve smoked over the years and it’s not very much.”
I also had to perform forty hours community service which took the form of collating responses supplied by schoolchildren from the Indiana Drug Awareness Task Force, which was amusing in and of itself. I was never photographed or fingerprinted or drug tested in any way and after I had paid my fine and completed my community service it was all erased from my record except for the gold embossed Certificate of Completion they gave me which I hang alongside my diplomas and other certificates of achievement.