For the first time ever, I had the cops called on me.
Ever since I started smoking my medical marijuana, I have done my best to be a courteous neighbour. I check in with those across the hall and adjacent to me to make sure the smell doesn’t leach through, and let them know that if ever it does to please let me know. During winter, it is too cold to go outside, especially with my balcony door freezing shut.
With the weather improving dramatically this week however, I have started trying to go outside onto the balcony when I smoke.
This is the first time I have had the cops called on me.
I checked with my neighbours again, which leads me to believe that it wasn’t any of them. That leaves my upstairs neighbour. It’s not the first time I have suspected that when the wind blows just right, the smell sometimes wafts towards her window. I’ve heard it slam shut a time or two. The woman who lives there is someone I know. Someone who she has come to for advice before.
So it comes as a surprise to me that her first resort would be to call the cops, rather than talking to me or even sending me an anonymous message.
If she doesn’t know that I have a prescription, then she just tried to get me arrested.
The cops, when they arrived were pretty relaxed. They made it clear that they had no real quarrel with what I did in the privacy of my home, before I had the chance to tell them that this was prescribed medicine. Though apparently the fact that I have a prescription was noted from having spoken to officers previously.
It was relatively a low stress event. I was told to be careful, so that they wouldn’t get called out again, and was otherwise just left marvelling over the fact that my attempt to be responsible and nice by smoking outside backfired so spectacularly. I went through a variety of emotions: amusement over the irony of the situation, irritation over the completely lack of necessity of it all, and underneath it all, a vague sense of discomfort.
I didn’t know why I was uncomfortable. The cop had been nice. Ultimately, nothing really happened other than a few minutes spent at my door. I hadn’t broken any laws, and my skin colour and relative affluence made it a much less risky scenario. True, if Alex had been home, there would have been the added stress of potentially dealing with a cop’s bigotry. I was pretty much safe, so why did I feel so anxious.
Like a pin in your clothing that you can’t find, it scratched at me and made my irritation grow.
Then a friend messaged me, checking despite my protestations that I was fine. She told me that sometimes, people will get this feeling of anxiety or feeling unsafe because of an interaction with authority such as this.
It was only a few minutes before I realized that she was describing exactly what I felt. Someone used the police against me, and might again. They were trying to intimidate me. They had no way of knowing if their actions might get me arrested and they did it anyway. The cops might be called again, and the next one might be less friendly.
Now every time I have to take my meds, I have to wonder whether this time I will hear another knock on my door. My balcony was no longer a happy sanctuary where I could sit back and smoke a bowl while reading or drinking my tea. Now I had to worry about whether the wind was creating a wind tunnel that would get me in trouble again? I keep my door open so that I can feel the breeze while I work. Now, I have to worry about a wind change creating a vacuum.
The one place where I should be able to medicate in safety and comfort, is no longer inviolable. Every toke could mean another visit from the police. For doing something that I am legally allowed to do.
If she had only spoken to me, or even sent me an anonymous note.