Illustration by Ryan Alexander-Tanner

THE COUNTDOWN to cannabis legalization has begun. Soon many of us will be able to grow plants at home. We'll be able to leave our house carrying up to one ounce, and have eight ounces at home. It's still hard to wrap my head around these freedoms.

I've spent three weekends in a row at cannabis industry conferences around the state. Last weekend over dinner, someone asked, "Have you ever been busted for weed?"

Why yes... yes, I have.

It was 1997, and I was attending a Bunny Wailer show at Champoeg State Park. Bunny was a member of Bob Marley and the Wailers, and I couldn't have been more excited to attend. So excited, in fact, that I'd baked up a big ol' batch of my patented ultra-strength pot cookies ["Holiday Party Meltdown," Cannabuzz, Dec 10, 2014], and rolled up a dozen spliffs the size of small carrots.

The show was everything I'd hoped for. Between songs Bunny called out "Jah!" which was our cue to yell back "Rastafari!" And, of course, to light up another joint and exhale toward the stage. I was three cookies in and high. I mean, hiiiiiigh, as high as I had ever been.

The show wrapped up, and my group returned to the parking lot, really nothing more than a mown field with cars everywhere. Once we found the car, someone suggested we light up the remnants of our last joint, which had been reduced to a stub about the length and width of a cigarette filter. No sooner had I lit up when I heard a squeaky voice attempt some sternness while telling me to "Freeze!" Figuring it was a fellow stoned concertgoer, I drew a deep hit and blew it out in the direction of the voice, calling out "Rastafari!"

Except it was a cop.

Well, sort of. It was one of the baby cops in training, an honest-to-Jah pimply faced young cat who was maybe—maybe—all of 19. He came up to me, dropped the bike he had been riding, and shouted into his radio, "I GOT THEM! I HAVE THE POT SMOKERS!"

From out of the darkness, more of the babies in blue emerged, most riding mountain bikes, some on foot. Our car door was open, and one of them pushed past me and pulled out our now-empty Tupperware of cookies. Taking a deep dramatic inhale, Officer Barney Fife Jr. turned to his partner and proudly exclaimed, "This is where they kept their pot weed!"

My friends and I looked at each other, and began giggling, and then roaring with laughter. In short order, three cop cars set upon us, followed by two officers on horses and several on ATVs.

I was written a citation. They took the Tupperware. I went to Salem to appear in court, but the DA never filed charges.

Eighteen years later, I still use the phrase "pot weed."