In my last column, I told you all about getting arrested on a nude beach for allegedly trafficking ginger snap cookies. The comedy ensues. I am told to get dressed and taken to the police station where I am stripped searched. They wanted to know if I had anything “dangerous down there?” Hilarious? (Not right away though.)
My cookies are stamped Exhibit A. I am photographed in the best pin up pose I could muster at the time. Big smile on my tear-stained face. Arms at an angle behind my head. My hips slightly askew. Then finger prints, a phone call to a random lawyer, some yoga in the cold steel cell, and my eventual release on a promise to appear.
In order to charge me with trafficking gingersnap cookies they had to send those cookies to a lab to be tested. I was charged initially with Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking. But trafficking what? Gingersnaps? The test results came in and I was charged with trafficking in cannabis ‘resin’, which obviously seemed suspect because there was no resin in Exhibit A. Then off to trial we go. Not one, not two, but three separate trials.
I was getting arrested a lot in those days.
After careful cross-examination of the Crown Prosecutors’ lab technician, it was discovered the only reason I was being charged with trafficking in cannabis resin was because Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) at that time said if no defining botanical features of the marijuana plant can be seen but cannabinoids are present, they automatically call it cannabis resin.
My lawyer, John Conroy, brought in a cannabinoid scientist named Dr. David Pate. The good doctor suggested on the stand that there is no actual resin in the cookie sample. With some scientific prodding, the Crown’s lab guy had to agree. I asked my lawyer to propose if it’s possible I put hemp seeds or hemp oil in my cookies. Would cannabinoids still be present? The Crown’s witness agrees again.
Turns out there are lots of cannabinoids. Not all are illegal. They would need to isolate them in cookie batter to prove which ones are prosecutable. Then they would need to weigh that measurement and find out how severe my sentence should be.
In Canadian law at that time, 30 grams or under of cannabis marijuana carried a lesser sentence than over 30 grams. One gram of hash (a.k.a. cannabis resin) carried a lesser sentence than over one gram. Yes. One gram! Implying resin is 30 times stronger than marijuana and should be treated as such during sentencing.
At the time, they could not prove origin of source or quantify measurements. They simply tested for cannabinoids and if those were present SOP says you automatically charged a person with trafficking in cannabis resin. When botanical features can be identified you charge them with trafficking in cannabis marijuana.
In the end everyone agreed I was charged with the wrong thing, therefore I had not committed the crime I was charged with. Finally, to my great relief, for the third time, I heard that gloriously freeing word: Acquitted. The gavel drops, curtains close, and the comedy show is over.
Before any of this happened, of course, I was offered multiple plea bargains. Almost threatened to plea bargain. But I refused adamantly. I wanted someone to look me in the face while they were giving me a criminal record. All for some delicious, well-made gingersnap cookies. I was then and I still am a hard-working, well-respected woman in my community. Why would I willingly let them label me a criminal when clearly I am not?
Most cases around this time got plea bargained out. Hardly any cannabis charges even went to trial. I was the first to test the waters in court on edibles and this is what we discover. We punched a lot of holes in this aspect of law and demonstrated a lot of flaws. Flaws that cost people their freedom. Their dignity. Their savings. Their jobs.
Never plea bargaining is a great tool for modern cannabis activists. We all want our day in court, and I am perfectly willing to go again one day. It is a great place to be active. If you are successful there, you’re successful to marijuana lovers everywhere.
If nobody plea bargains, all those cases go to court. In court, the crown must assert the law you broke and then prove those allegations against you. In other words, you don’t have to prove your innocence, they have to prove you are guilty. The laws on cannabis are so perforated with inconsistencies, at least where I live, that I do not think anyone really knows the laws on cannabis as they are written. The grey area continues to widen.
So, when real cases go to court, they tend to demonstrate Constitutional discrepancies. The government is then asked to re-script the law to comply with the Constitution or abolish it. So demand your day in court should you get charged with loving our favorite green leafy vegetable. With that I would like to share with you my criminally delicious gingersnap snap cookie recipe. Cookies are sweet. Victory is sweeter.
- ¾ cup oil
- 20 grams shake flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp molasses
- 1 egg2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp cloves
Sauté oil and shake flour on low heat for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Combine all dry ingredients. In a bowl, mix molasses, sugar, shake oil and egg. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Form into small balls and roll in white sugar. Bake at 350˚F for 12-15 minutes. Store in air-tight container.