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A Tale of Texas Toking



I've written in the past about how my work within the music and cannabis industries has been most complementary, how cannabis has saved my sanity during numerous tours, and how offering up cannabis products to touring bands has saved theirs. But there was one time when a band saved me from cannabis, and 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.

We set out one morning from Arizona, with a good dozen hours ahead of us. Knowing that the only food we would 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 check point" known as Sierra Blanca, 30 miles from Mexico, which has busted numerous notables such as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Fiona Apple, who may have escaped punishment by singing the chorus from "Criminal."

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 several times, moving me to tell him, "Drive, man, drive forward." Which he took 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 at you to "Stop the car and get out! Now!" They surrounded us while a drug-sniffing dog was led into the van. It was 98 degrees in the shade.

The mirror shade-wearing agents asked who we were and where we were going multiple times, and soon the dog and his handler emerged with the bag of cookies. An agent took a sample and performed a 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 tabacky, amirite? While we hadn't tried any, it was certainly possible they had pot in them, I guess.

An agent triumphantly held up the test, which determined the cookies contained cannabis. The penalties were explained as, "You are going to jail." I stated the cookies had been gifted to me, the band had no knowledge, and I alone deserved any punishment.

The man running the show emerged, taking me aside and asking where we were headed.

"We're opening for a band for a three-week tour." I said.

"Which band?" he asked.

"The Old 97s," I replied.

There was a long silence. "Good band" he said, 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 our van.

Every square inch of flat surface of the van was covered in food and packaging. The dog had gone on 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 somewhere bearable.

This week, I'm going to go see the Old 97s play in Portland. I'm going to legally partake pre-show, and I'm eating a cookie. Maybe two.

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