I guess being ‘Jah Ganja Mayor’ comes with its own baggage! – Ganja Attorney Gainsburg writes
Now, I’m hiding in Honduras I’m a desperate man, Send lawyers, guns and money, The shit has hit the fan – Warren Zevon
So there I am waiting for my luggage to come out on the conveyor belt after my return flight from Kingston, Jamaica. I already had my carry on and my laptop bag with me. My 90 minute flight landed at 9 am on Monday (October -, 2016) morning at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. I had waken up at 4 am in the morning to catch the flight, and after watching a good friend perform in a play the previous night into dawn; I packed my bags at 1:30 am that morning when I got back to the hotel..
I had been traveling the island of Jamaica – from Montego Bay to Negril to Montego Bay to Kingston – for twelve glorious days. I met wonderful bredren and sistren who were discussing their current and future ganja industry plans with I. It also provided a great way to get ground level and grass roots information that never seems to find its way to the public or the Government of Jamaica.
But perhaps the most blessed part of the trip was attending the grand opening and events surrounding the Peter Tosh Museum opening. I was privileged and honored to be the guest of Peter Tosh 420, a brand that is interested in exploring the Jamaican Ganja space in an authentic local manner, unlike the Marley Family and Privateer arrangement in the U.S. If you would have asked me just a year ago if I would I ever attend such an event I-man would have laughed at you. Very hard.
But I digress, the real point of this tale of rebellion is to share a cautionary tale.
So when my checked luggage came off the tarmac, a US customs officer was carrying it and he directed I over to their special area. I knew this was going to be an experience. There were two officers – good cop – Officer Caucasian and bad cop – officer Hispanic. Officer Hispanic did not like I at all. By looking at his eyes I could see this boy had a plan for I. Officer Hispanic seemed very content in Babylon.
So I answered all the relevant questions – Yes, I packed my suitcase, Yes, I traveled alone, Yes I am a attorney – hmm then it got a little quiet – and that Yes I was a Ganja Consultant. Well, Officer Hispanic looked like he just caught Pablo Escobar coming out of his air conditioned prison tunnel. Officer Hispanic went through my laptop bag. Nothing there – they inspected every nook and cranny. They looked in the computer battery compartment – nothing. They looked in the lining – nothing.
But then, they checked my suit bag that I carried onto the plane. I had worn a nice button down shirt with a Lion of Judah on the back to the Tosh Concert. Anyone who knows I, knows well my preference is to smoke from a chalice. As I knew I was attending the concert I rolled three spliffs to take as sacrament during the performance. Gave praise and thanks with all three and then I had put the small remains in the front shirt pocket. Obviously, I forgot to remove those.
Officer Hispanic was thrilled – just like I was Carlos the International Terrorist – and he told I he was disappointed in I. I explained the story as told above. Told the truth and said I forgot. Generally, I find that when you lie or try and cover something up the results only get worse, and its not so much the underlying event as the deception and cover up. Look at Watergate.
But I digress… Then they searched through my dirty personals, and through every pocket, the lining and the rest of my belongings to find a used small purple pipe, as well as a few more grams of ganja that were inadvertently left in my clothes. Actually, I wondered where that ganja had gone. Remember only users lose drugs.
They had brought Sniffy the local drug busting dog to pant through my items but he didn’t seem too interested. However, it was good to see that the KNOWBAG did its job with Sniffy. Good boy. Who’s a good boy, you are Sniffy.
However, Officer Hispanic sure was interested in I. Then Officer Hispanic patted me down – hadn’t been home in 12 days – and he took the opportunity to give me a covered prostrate exam. My wife would be jealous. I thanked him and asked him if he might be available to perform my colonoscopy. Officer Caucasian laughed. Officer Hispanic did not. I asked him if we could go somewhere romantic. Officer Caucasian was in stitches. Officer Hispanic not so much.
So, I was eventually told that they were going to weigh their bounty and call the local police force. At this point I was more embarrassed and upset at myself for being careless more than anything else. Officer Caucasian was nice to me – he said I had ganja all over. I told him I would make a bed of it and sleep on it if I could. He laughed out loud and told I-man that he was a character. Things started to relax. I also know in Hollywood, Florida if you have less than an ounce in your possession the police have an option to give you a $100 ticket, arrest you or do nothing. As I prayed to Jah, the police who I greeted on the way into the customs area decided that I wasn’t worth the trouble. I agreed with them.
I was then escorted to a private padded cell area with handcuffs and chains. They just placed me in there for a few moments but decided they needed me in front of them at all times. I think they thought I may hang myself with my boat shoe laces. I assured them that wasn’t going to happen. But it did remind me of Arlo Guthrie’s wonderful Thanksgiving Tradition – Alice’s’ Restaurant.
With Thanksgiving right on our doorstep its worth taking a good listen to. But at least my government bench was padded but I didn’t get to play with any black and white glossy photos or toss trash on the side of the office.
I eventually spent time with Officer Caucasian who let me text my friend to let him know that it was taking a lot longer to get through customs than I thought it would. Officer Caucasian and I had a policy and political discussion about ganja and he was sympathetic to the cause. In fact, he thought Florida should just vote to legalize it for all adult use. I don’t think Officer Hispanic felt the same way. I was his catch of the day – hope he likes the taste of small fish.
Again, I digress… So eventually I was asked to write a statement saying that I had brought the ganja – they made me insert parenthetically “Marijuana” a term I hate using – into the US inadvertently from Jamaica when I packed quickly, that I was a very bad man – not a criminal but a “violator” – and I owed a $500 fine. So this situation was becoming more like Kangaroo Traffic Court – or a money making scheme. I can tell you that I never prayed as hard for my credit card to work than at that moment. And thank you Visa – you were everywhere I needed you to be, namely Terminal 4 U.S. Customs Office.
As I waited for all of the processing to complete, I recalled some of the discussions at the Peter Tosh ceremonies. Peter (PITA as pronounced) was a militant advocate for the legalization of ganja. He was beaten to a pulp, harassed, jailed, threatened and subject to other brutalities by the Jamaican Government. This would have been a walk in the park for Prophet Peter. This gave I great comfort during the process. He stood up and spoke the truth. All of this waste of time for prosecuting people for the possession of the healing herb. How stupid. How futile. How funny.
During the lectures I attended on Peter Tosh at the University of the West Indies (“UWI”), there was an interesting taped played where Peter was asked if he considered himself a Militant. His answer was no. He thought he was a missionary. When I thought back to that discussion I believe that Peter might want to change that answer in that he was a Militant Missionary – he fought for and believed in his cause and globally advocated with his speech, his actions and his songs. I believe I also act as a Militant Missionary with respect to spreading the word to help legalize “ganja” – a term Peter did not like. I am proud to follow in his footsteps. I know that I am protected and blessed by Jah.
So as a warning to all – be careful, be diligent, be smart and be safe. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Leave your ganja off the plane. Even though the TSA says they are not looking for Cannabis they are.
When I spoke to my dear friend James, who used to work customs intelligence, he informed I that it was not a random search of I. It was targeted because of who I am and what I do. There is a list. And if you are involved in the cannabis business and hit a certain altitude you may also find yourself on that list. It is a sign of recognition – so take it for what it is worth. For I it was a $500 fine.
So Jah Ganja Mayor will certainly be very careful about flying with sacrament in the future. Jah guides and protects those who help themselves as well. Be smart regardless of what you may hear.
And at least in two weeks Florida voters can approve Amendment 2 to have some small measure of a legal medical cannabis program in the state. But we still wait for the Federal CSA’s Schedule I classification of cannabis to be removed so that ganja can be used to heal the nation. The United States can use a lot of healing right now. I just need a little rest. And some Jamaican Ganja.
May Jah continue to Bless, Protect and Guide I&I All.
“I am here to serve the cannabis community through Barry Gainsburg, P.A. and Jah, Ganja & Reggae Limited (“JGR”),” – Attorney Barry.
Editor’s Note: Attorney Barry Gainsburg is private attorney who provides legal counsel to the Cannabis and Securities Industries.
Please feel free to reach out to Attorney Barry via visit his website at www.barrygainsburg.com and write to him through Gainsburg@bellsouth.net if you have any other legal issues involving the cannabis industry.