Part 6: The Pot Thickens [link to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5]

Arizona Revised Statutes 13-3401: …[definitions] “Licensed means authorized by the laws of this state.”

At first, not much changed.

By late ’93, the 1994 initiative was officially dead, so in ‘95 I bought my Cannabis and Controlled Substance Dealer’s License from the Arizona Department of Revenue, and cannabis tax-stamps, then began selling pot for the first time in my life. It was definitely small-time.

wilson dealers license

AZ4NORML was at a low point. Those who put their heart-and-soul into the Safer Arizona initiative know the feeling. The eager volunteers were not enough. We fell well short of the required signatures. At a monthly meeting in which the mood was somewhat muted, I announced my plans. The skepticism was audible. I should have taken that as my cue to abandon the whole project, but I proceeded.

At the time, I was going through a long, drawn-out personal crisis. My wife Barbara had developed a degenerative, incurable brain disorder. Because the disease punched holes in her cognitive abilities, I became sole bread-winner, an effective single-parent, and care provider. She had always had a somewhat stormy temperament; now the storms became hurricanes.

broken cup

One night in 1995, she threw a coffee-cup at the kitchen floor so hard it left a dent in the linoleum. She hadn’t thrown it at me–there was no intent to harm–it was just her way of expressing anger. My response, whatever it was, made things worse, and after I moved into the dining room, she up-ended the dining-room table on me.

Now she was trying to cause injury. I danced out of the way, but decided it had gone far enough. I had grown inured to the raging, but for the first time I feared bodily harm. She was on a rampage, way beyond reason, and I had run out of ways to reckon with her. I called the cops. With the law on the way, she seemed to sense that I was serious, and settled down a little. No more dishes flew. When the cops came, she started out by listening quietly while I explained the reason for the call and answered their questions. Then she played her trump-card:

“He’s a dope-dealer! You need to arrest him! I can prove it…he’s got pot in the refrigerator!”

She then went into the kitchen, pulled out a brown paper sack with an ounce or two from the ’reefer, and handed it to the cops. They looked in the bag, then asked me about it.

“Yeah, it’s mine, but I’m licensed by the state of Arizona to possess and sell it.”

Naturally, this was met with incredulity.
Somehow, I talked them in to letting me prove my story. I got my Arizona State Marijuana Dealer’s license and tax stamps from the file cabinet, and showed them to the cops. Like most people, they had never seen or heard of such a thing. But it looked authentic, and after some discussion, they gave everything back. I think they made Barbara sign something, promising to appear in court to face misdemeanor assault charges, and then left.

I had a feeling that would not be the end of it, but I didn’t really allow myself to think about it. I had bought the required license; had more than enough tax-stamps on hand considering the quantity of pot; and the police were satisfied with that.
It was like a dream!

peter wilson

–Peter Wilson was State Director of Arizona NORML during the turbulent 1990s.

[link to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5]]