Before getting to the story, I'd like to acknowledge a Medical Marijuana patient, that is much braver than SWIM is, about coming forward with her own story. Alexis Bortell, a 12-Year-Old girl with Epilepsy, will be fighting Jeff Sessions in court, after he terminated an Obama-Era law, that prohibited federal authorities from cracking down on Cannabis in states where the plant is legal. She is already a published author, and I would highly recommend her book, Let's Talk About Medical Cannabis: One of the Earliest Medical Communities Seen Through the Eyes of its Youngest Advocate. It includes part of her own personal story and is a reference book as well.
Now to the confession. The following story is about SWIM (which stands for Someone Who Isn't Me), a medical marijuana patient who flew too close to the sun, and almost got evicted and arrested in the process. I will reiterate that this is based on real events, and only SWIM alone knows the actual time period and location that the following events took place. The main purpose of this story is intended for medical cannabis patients to learn from SWIM's failures, as well as to have a good laugh in the process.
You arrive back home in the Santa Clara valley from a restful vacation in Pismo Beach, which helped clear your lungs from a dreaded smog that had plagued the area for the past week. Since then, the smog had appeared to dissipate, and to you the air felt fairly more breathable since your departure.
However, the sight of an inspection notice on your front door immediately constricts your lungs, and you suddenly find yourself wheezing like a pug again, suffocating from the voltaic fear jolting through your heart. You see that the inspection had already been conducted earlier today, once you step inside. However, the grow tent you have appeared to remain closed and unscathed, much to your relief.
So, in that case, to you it seems that the maintenance workers had not bothered checking inside. Or had they? And merely sealed it back up to obscure any evidence that they had tampered with your property? Your mind quarrels.
This was a legal grey area that was beyond your understanding. If they decided to report the tent to the property manager or worse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (or as you liked to refer to them as; the Depraved-Evil-Assholes), then perhaps it was time for you to hire a professional attorney; one that was equally savage and cut-throat as Dr. Gonzo.
But what attorney out there, if any, could wield the strength to challenge a daunting dinosaur like Jeff Sessions, or the rest of the Trump Administration for that matter? You wonder. Your soul would be eternally doomed if the Attorney General ever found out about this. Your medical cannabis card would be of no use. He’d jam it into a paper shredder, and laugh hysterically at your impending doom. Federal law Trumps state law, and you know that the deranged orangutan in office would obligate himself to carve that into stone at your court hearing.
Breathe. Maintain. Perhaps growing medical cannabis was an offense on a federally-owned apartment complex such as this, but there was no law against having a grow tent, you realize. The only way they would know you were breaking a federal law is if they had opened the tent. That was the main question, you knew. And that would require them to obtain a search warrant first, correct? Yes. You were sure of that now.
But to be safe, you decide that you’ll call up a friend in the morning, so they could hold onto the plants for a few days until the coast appeared to be clear. If the maintenance workers were truly concerned about this contraption, federal law enforcement would’ve already been here wouldn’t they? Yes. You convince yourself.
Within several minutes your Metal Halide and LED grow lights turn back on automatically, in sync with the timer. The lights would’ve been off during their inspection you realize, which was a good sign, as they would likely have brought more attention to the tent, due to their shimmery glow.
You open up the tent, to be met with a piney yet fruity odor, given off from your Trainwreck and Strawberry OG plants, nestled happily inside. This brings you more relief, and allows you to let your guard down. It appeared obvious to you now, that they had not been tampered with.
You cook and eat dinner, then head out to your overnight job.
Sleep-deprivation begins to take hold as you begin walking back home around 8:00 A.M. The soulless bastards from corporate had shipped in an overload of toilets and water heaters on last night’s truck, forcing you to work two hours of overtime on the order picker, hoisting the heavy remainder of overstock onto the overhead shelves.
You spark a CBD-rich joint as you walk home, to help ease your sore muscles, when suddenly, your cell phone rings. Your languid eyelids immediately jolt open when you recognize the phone number, which belonged to your property manager. Mother of God…you're doomed. A call from her this early in the morning would only be to discuss an urgent matter, and you knew it. What would she think when you arrive in her office, reeking of piney CBD-rich medicine?
You panic like Dale from Pineapple Express, and toss your joint into the street. You let her call go to voicemail, and your mailbox chimes immediately.
“We need to talk about your tent, this is an urgent matter. Please call me back as soon as possible.” Her voicemail says.
The game was up, she had you.
“Leave the country!” you could hear that rotten attorney Dr. Gonzo screeching in your eardrums.
At this moment, this seems like sound advice to you. There was a nearby Safeway, where you could withdraw as much cash as possible from your bank account, and buy a razor to shave off your hair into a buzz cut, making you practically unrecognizable. Time would be of the essence however, you realize. If she were on the phone with law enforcement at this very moment, you would likely only have several minutes to spare before your accounts would be frozen.
Once you have the cash you can board the nearest VTA bus to the San Jose Diridon station, and board the CalTrain to San Francisco from there, and wait for the Amtrak to take you to Seattle, then figure out a way to slip across the Canadian border without having your cover blown. Was this logical? Could you actually make it without being intercepted?
Before you make up your mind, you’re already stumbling into the parking lot of your apartment complex, and suddenly dive behind a bush. Sweet Jesus it’s her! Your mind recoils at the sight of the property manager at your front door.
You peer above the bush like a paranoid Raoul Duke on an acid frenzy.
She hasn’t noticed you at the moment yet however, keeping her venomous eyes locked on your front door. There appeared to be no law enforcement officials behind her or lingering throughout the complex you realize, which was a good sign. Unless this was trap.
After several minutes she appears to give up and leaves, and you scramble up the stairwell once she’s out of sight, barricading yourself within the apartment. It likely won’t be long now, before she decides to call the police. It’s time for you to get moving. Save yourself from the Attorney General’s prehistoric wrath, before it’s too late.
You strip open the tent immediately, forging to eradicate all evidence. You were not prepared to serve twenty years in a federal penitentiary for this, that much was obvious to you now. You snatch up the cannabis plants, and scurry into the restroom.
You place the pots next to the toilet, and grab a pair of hedge shears that you kept beneath the sink, in accordance to a motto that Foghorn Leghorn had always lived by; “Fortunately I always keep my feathers numbered, for…for just such an emergency.”
But, your throat catches, and apprehension jerks at your heart. To you, this felt like being forced to slaughter your own children, to save yourself. Your hands tremble, and the hedge shears drop to the floor. You can’t do this, there has to be another way. Foster parents, that’s what these girls deserved, not inevitable death, you couldn’t bring yourself to do it. These plants were a secret you planned to take to your grave, a secret none of your friends knew about. But, you realized that that was no longer an option. You dial a friend of yours, but the front door thrashes ferociously before you can press the call button.
This is it, how it all ends for you. You flash back to a scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and see Jeff Sessions as the judge at your court hearing, with an axe chopping through a grapefruit while screaming for a: “Castration!”
Then, the last thing you hear is a low ominous voice, billowing out of the shadows from the deranged orangutan himself: “Hope it was worth it, kid. Enjoy building my wall for the rest of your miserable, insignificant life.”
That was all it took for your amygdala to hijack your brain. You dismember the plants, flushing the leaves and branches down the toilet. Then, you stash the pots and hedge shears beneath the sink. You turn on the shower head, strip yourself down quickly, douse your hair in the water, then grab a towel, and tie it around your waist.
“Sorry I was in the shower, I’ll answer the door in a sec!” you shout, then grab several of your basil and strawberry plants, and place them inside the tent. There was not enough time to take it down, so this would be your alibi.
When you answer the door, her infrared glare radiates into your soul. You can feel the water in your drenched hair evaporating by the second.
“May I come in?” the property manager asks.
If she was asking permission to enter, then perhaps no search warrant had been issued…yet. You realize. No law enforcement officers were present with her, much to your relief.
“Of course.” You reply, allowing her in.
Her attention immediately turns to the massive 4X4 grow tent inside the dining room, that stood in place of where furniture should be present. At that moment, you realize how truly foolish you had been. After years of growing the herb stealthily and successfully in the heavily conservative state of Texas (your place of birth), you had become far too bold and complacent. California had made you too comfortable, careless, and reckless. Perhaps you could have gotten away with it if you had been more careful. A smaller tent could’ve easily been concealed in a closet, that would’ve remained undetected. But no, you got greedy, and now you lost.
“I hope you’re not doing what I think you're doing.” She boldly accuses.
You could jab back at her for falsely accusing a tenant of a crime, without circumstantial evidence. Sure, the plants may be gone, but you still have at least an ounce of medicine stashed away in a tote, which could lead federal authorities to accusing you of having ‘an intent to distribute’, even if such an intent was clearly false. So, because of this, you decide not to challenge her.
“Of course not.” You reply, opening the tent to reveal pots of basil and strawberry plants.
However, based on her expression, her eyes had already sliced through the wool of deception you had attempted to weave.
“Don’t even think about trying it.” She says.
“Absolutely not.” You reply casually. “I only intended to use these grow lights for my basil and strawberry plants. You know, since the summer sun is too intense for them.” You say.
But to you she still appears unconvinced, and rightfully so. Who in their right mind would pay such hefty electric bills, just to grow basil and strawberries? How absurd, you realize. But you cheerfully stick to your story, no matter how unconvincing it sounds. If you could convince her that you’re just some nutter, that’s overly obsessed with botany, then perhaps you could slither your way out of this mess.
“Just to inform you, federal law supersedes state law. And these apartments are federally owned property.” She says. “I just want to ensure that neither of us face legal consequences when our official annual inspection is conducted next week. Yesterday’s inspection was served with the intention of keeping everything in order, and informing our tenants of any changes that need to be addressed before our annual inspection.” She says, making you realize that her only intent here was to save her own skin.
“I understand.” You reply. “I assure you that I took all necessary precautions when I set up this tent, to ensure that it is not a fire hazard. However, I will take it down if you wish.”
“I believe that would be the best decision for both our interests. Please take it down as soon as possible.” She replies, then departs.
The following day you receive a paper lease violation, attached to your front door, that specifies your grow tent is a mold hazard. You believe this is complete nonsense, however count your blessings that you did not receive an eviction notice instead. You had already taken down the tent anyway, so there was nothing left that they could do.
The death of your plants leaves you feeling guilty and sad. It was your fault that they had to suffer such a grim fate. However, the sadness pales in comparison to the relief you feel, after barely evading a possible twenty-year sentence.
Medical Cannabis has been a Godsend for you, which helped get you off of painkillers you've had to use after suffering a broken leg several years ago. Much like Alexis Bortell, you had to flee Texas in order to have the opportunity of receiving a safer medical treatment. You had intended on following the law all along, but realize it is nearly impossible to avoid tip-toeing on broken glass due to the massive legal grey area that the country faces, regarding medical cannabis. Major changes will be needed, if this country wishes to stop overcrowding prisons with unintentional offenders, such as yourself. And with that, concludes your confession.
Signed: SWIM (Someone Who Isn’t Me)