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I’ve written about how my work in the music and cannabis industries have been complementary—how cannabis saved my sanity during the numerous tours I managed, and how offering cannabis products to those touring bands has saved theirs. But there was one time when a band saved me from a potential stretch of jail time.

I was out with a “baby band,” comprised of millennials who had never taken on a tour of this degree: back-to-back three-week-plus tours opening for larger and more established acts, driving nearly 4,200 miles in the classic Ford E-350 Econoline van and trailer.

We set out one morning from Arizona, with a good dozen hours ahead of us along I-10, stretching across New Mexico and into Texas. Knowing that the only food we’d find when we pulled into town would be a Sonic, we loaded up groceries from a health food store.

After several hours, we found ourselves at the notorious Texas border checkpoint known as Sierra Blanca. It’s 30 miles from Mexico (and 85 miles east of El Paso), but the town’s US Customs and Border Protection stop has busted numerous notables such as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Fiona Apple.

Our driver had not been sleeping well, and was half awake when the guards motioned him to drive forward to the inspection station. They motioned to him several times, which moved me to tell him, “Drive, man, drive forward.” He interpreted this to mean “accelerate suddenly through the inspection station and nearly hit two border agents.”

Few things compare to the sound of a dozen heavily armed federal agents screaming, “Stop the car and get out! Now!” They surrounded us in a semicircle while a drug-sniffing dog was led into the van. It was 98 degrees in the shade, and every single barely-20-year old agent had on mirrored shades and a look of fierce determination.

We were asked who we were and where we were going multiple times, and soon the dog and his handler emerged from the van with a bag of cookies. An agent took a sample and performed some sort of litmus-type test, while I explained that the cookies had been a gift from a fan in California, and, ha ha, you know those people, with their wacky tobacky, amirite? While we hadn’t tasted any of the cookies, it was certainly possible they had pot in them, I guess.

An agent triumphantly held up the test, which determined the cookies indeed contained cannabis. The penalty was explained thusly: “You are going to jail.” At that point, I stated that the cookies had been gifted to me, the band had no knowledge, and I alone deserved any punishment.

The man running the show, who was a little closer to my age, emerged from a booth. He took me aside and asked where we were headed. “We’re opening for a band for a three-week tour,” I said.

“Which band?” he asked.

“Old 97’s” I replied.

There was a long silence.

“Good band,” he said finally, cracking a microscopic smile.

Wreck Your Life is one of my top 10 albums,” I said.

Another silence.

“Yeah, it’s pretty fine,” he drawled.

We looked at each other wordlessly for a good while.

“Ah tell you whut,” he said slowly. “Imma make you an offer. Our dawg may have done some, uh, damage to yawh van during the inspection. If y’all would like to file a complaint seeking damages, we can do that, in which case ah will charge you and yawh friends with possession of cannabis and we can arrest y’all right now. Or yew can forgo the complaint, we will keep the cookies, and y’all can go on your way.”

“Believe I’ll take that second option, sir.”

We shook hands, and I returned to the van.

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Every square inch of flat surface inside was covered in the groceries we’d just stocked up on. The dog had gone into a frenzy, converting every food item into shredded matter that, when combined with dog spit in the blazing heat, adhered to everything like tar. We spent 45 minutes and three rolls of paper towels getting it somewhat bearable.

Old 97’s saved our hide that day. Tonight—Wednesday, March 22—I’m going to go see the band play in Portland at the Wonder Ballroom. I’m going to legally partake before show, and I’m eating a cookie. Maybe two.