Madrid Airport Gate Agent: Hello Sir, where are you flying today? Me: I was thinking straight home to Phoenix but a layover in Texas prison sounds like a plan… Gate Agent: Yes sir, we have you scheduled for 2 nights at the luxurious Tarrant County jail, in Fort Worth Texas, for alleged possession of controlled substance. How does that sound? Me: Thanks for the heads up, I’ll be sure to eat on the plane and wear warm clothes before I land.
It’s funny but it would have been nice to have that travel itinerary warning. Knowing about going to jail and preparing by eating and sleeping extra on the plane would have been a big help. Also, I would have thrown away any contraband had I realized I was flirting with such serious consequences from having CBD. I genuinely use cannabis for medicine and do not leave on a travel trip without packing my medicine. Cannabis is my peace of mind for gastrointestinal issues that can arise while traveling. I understand the law but I also understand that I am using it privately for myself and that it helps me get through the day. If it’s prescribed to me by a doctor and hurts no one else then why would law enforcement be interested in what kind of medicine a person is prescribed? This is what I thought right up until the moment I got locked the fuck up in Texas for allegedly possessing a controlled substance.
Zona Peatonal: Prodi, Irene, Tolo, Joey
Spannabis Sin Cannabis
On March 15th, we attended Spannabis, an annual conference in Barcelona, Spain that combines the smoking culture and cannabis genetics from Europe into one festival. We were there to share our cannabis culture and the conference vibe was a big surprise to us as Americans. The booths were mostly seed banks, grow supplies, and chemical/fertilizer companies. There were no dab stations or joint rolling contests. There were no twenty gram blunts or massive baseball bat joints floating around. For the most part, Spaniards sat quietly amongst their friends rolling their hash cigarettes and puffing away. It’s a totally different vibe than our over the top cannabis events with dab bars and terp tastings galore.
We made a lap around the fairgrounds and then went to work as usual by setting up our Cannabis Cactus dab station right in the middle of the crowd and announcing dab service starting at 4:20pm. We served dabs right off the Blazy Susan rolling tray to hoards of curious Europeans for two hours until we ran out of concentrates. It was memorable and exciting to see the looks on their faces, like little Euro kids on Christmas morning. Most of them have smoked hash cigarettes and cannabis flower for years but this was their first taste of concentrates packed with terps. The most memorable thing was all the joyful exclamations in different languages as we all dabbed together. They were freaking out over the smells and tastes from the diamonds and live resin we were serving.
Barcelona is home to beautiful beaches, a lively cannabis scene and the wondrous discography of Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí. Stoned visitors like us can enjoy a medicated walk through Park Guell and easily spend hours enjoying mosaics, sculptures, trees and birds. Be sure to bring an extra joint for this park adventure because exploring Gaudi works is a wonderland experience. One of the most remarkable sites in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia, a catholic church that stands unfinished after over one hundred years. The details carved into every crevice of this building created by Antoni Gaudi and his team are mind blowing. From a distance, the building is stunning but up close there are ultra detailed scenes of the heavens, nature, mythology, earth and the cosmos carved into every piece of the facade. There is so much to see in Barcelona and plenty of fine cannabis flower to keep the good energy flowing while exploring.
Cannabis in Spain
There are many places and ways to enjoy cannabis in Spain. Dispensaries as we know them are called “Associations” and are run much like cannabis retail establishments in America. The laws are also similar to the US, meaning that cannabis is federally illegal in Spain but is tolerated in some local jurisdictions. It’s more like local authorities look the other way, but if an Association causes any noise in the community then they can be raided and shut down. The rules in these cannabis clubs are the same and many products/prices are the same as what we are used to in America. The flower typically ranges from $4 Euros to $12 Euros per gram. The quality and potency is pretty consistently reflected by the price. We tried and really liked the OG Kush for $6 Euros/gram. This was a great value smoke and was excellent tasting for joints. We also tried plenty of flavors of the top shelf for $12/gram and some of the flavors we liked are Mohan Ram, Amnesia hybrids and Chocolope. Spain has great genetics and the market regulates itself by supply and demand. Associations buy from the best growers to keep their customers happy. The BHO extracts they had were extremely flavorful as well. We tried Blue Mountain that was fantastic and also Lemon Cake and Hawaiian Snow, crumble style extracts that had amazing cannabinoid profiles. The nice thing about these cannabis clubs is that they have attached lounges for relaxing after the meds are purchased. Many clubs offer drinks, snacks, board games and even bongs or dab rigs to use while you relax. It’s nice to buy cannabis and enjoy it with a coffee in the same establishment. I should note that the purchase area and lounge are usually separate rooms in the building but always attached somehow.
A typical Police Horse-shit in Madrid
The cannabis culture is different in Spain and we roll our joints differently in the US than most parts of the world. Europeans are more accustomed to rolling hash into hand rolled tobacco cigarettes. Groups of people were gathering around us with their phones and recording the dabs being taken, this was the first time they had seen cannabis concentrates in real life. It was also the first time many had seen a full blunt of only cannabis flower. It is rare for them to roll several grams of cannabis at one time for smoking.
After Spannabis, we continued delivering magazines in Barcelona and Sitges and then drove back into Madrid where my brother, Joseph, and his wife, Irene, live. We thought our adventures were winding down as I prepared to head back home to the USA but this was not the end of the excitement and more surprises were in store.
Tolo and Prodi left Madrid on a different flight from me that went through Miami while my flight passed through Dallas, Texas. This turned out to be a scary sequence of events for all of us and life changing for me.
Tolo allegedly trashed his THC/CBD before walking through security just to be safe and was still stopped by the customs agents for a canine alert after deboarding in Miami. They could smell the remnants of cannabis on his clothing and pockets but he didn’t have anything to worry about because he and Prodi weren’t carrying any cannabis. I, on the other hand, was not as smart or fortunate as I waltzed through customs allegedly carrying both cannabis flower, Baked Bros syrup and two CBD tinctures from Life Patent.
It turns out that everything that seems serious about this situation is not actually serious and everything that seems harmless is actually quite serious. As I waited in the customs line for my turn, the man in front of me was flagged and ticketed as they confiscated his medical cannabis from Denver, CO. They explained to him that, while it may be legal in his home state, it is strictly not legal in Texas.
Here’s what happened to me, allegedly! As I approached the agent for inspection they asked if I had anything in my bag that the dog might smell.
“Yes, I have medical marijuana.” “Okay sir, where is the marijuana?” asked a deep voiced agent. “In my toiletry bag.” I answered directly as I pointed to my large suitcase.
He called for backup and began tearing through my belongings. They searched every crevice and opened every package of food and everything to check for contraband even after I told them where to find it. They acted at first like it was no big deal because I had only small, personal amounts of cannabis. The dog alerted to my Spanish ham, which I admittedly am known to smuggle back because it is so damn tasty. If you’ve had Spanish Iberian Jamon then you know it’s worth a ticket. I know the supervisor ate my ham. I’m not ignorant and I saw the gleam in his eye when he saw 500 grams premium Jamon, Iberico Bellota, the best of the best.
Then the tone changed when federal agents from Homeland Security came to visit me for an interrogation interview. They asked me where I get the hash oil and if I have been exporting/importing it from Spain. I calmly denied the hypotheticals and proclaimed that I did not have any hash oil, so they should stop using that word. I explained that I am an MMJ patient and that I always travel with my medicine in every situation. I further explained that the tincture products are CBD which are lab tested for consistency and regulated to federal legal requirements of less than .3% THC content. He replied that customs had already performed a test on the spot, which determined the CBD tincture contained THC and was therefore classified as hash oil. The Baked Bros syrup was classified as the same thing, hash oil. Luckily, Homeland Security declined to prosecute this as a federal case and the decision landed on the Texas DPS to decide if they wanted to prosecute. State officers and Texas Rangers showed up and began to read me my rights immediately. I asked the arresting Texas DPS officer if he had a choice to arrest me and he said, “Not with this amount of hash oil.”
The intake room at the airport jail was a breeze compared to what came next at the Tarrant County Jail. Texas jails, like most all jails, are known for being not fun places. This is where I found myself, among violent criminals, being processed in from airport jail at 2am. Once we arrived at the county jail the twelve hour process of being checked in started. We were made to sit in nasty mildew smelling holding cells that were packed to capacity and ice cold. There was nothing to lay on except concrete and no way to get warm or rest at all. The next twelve hours were a shouting match between guards and unruly prisoners. They handed out the nastiest sandwiches you can imagine made from bread and some kind of discount meat I have never seen in any store. The sandwiches all appeared to have been smashed after being made. I tried a few bites and discarded it on the bench where five minutes later a massive cockroach was munching down where I left off. The other prisoners were frightened by the cockroach and jumped away.
For me, this was the first sign of comfort. My Roach Clip Podcast brethren had come with a sign of hope to comfort me in spirit. It was a well timed moment with my would be spirit animal. I let the insect carve out a few more bites of the sandwich.
“Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” Red, Shawshank Redemption
I was already tired from a 12 hour flight before being thrown into the mess of jail. My mental capacity was waning after 48 hours without cannabis, sleep or proper food. If you don’t know, airplane food is not known to be very desirable either but, in this moment, I would have considered anything American Airlines as a gourmet treat. It was unfortunate that I passed on the airplane meal because I was anticipating a nice meal in Texas between flights. In that cell, I was just wishing I had eaten the chicken rice on the airplane and the half ass pizza snack they serve too. It all sounds wonderful, even as I write this. There is nothing like being locked up to instantly make you appreciate the little things in your daily routine.
“These walls are funny. First you hate ’em. Then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.” Red, Shawshank Redemption
I began to narrate in my head with the Morgan Freeman voice from Shawshank Redemption. My thinking changed about how I would structure my days and when I would eat, sleep, watch TV. Could I win money in poker to exchange for a ramen noodles spread one night since I have no commissary funds? Everything becomes a routine with nothing to look forward to except maybe an instant coffee and an evening movie played on a 16” screen. I had no way to call any local Texas phone numbers and was running out of hope for being bailed out. Luckily, my cellmate Ricky, easily the funniest guy I have met in a while, came through with his Securus phone account. People who have family in prison can set up an account and receive calls if they accept the collect charges. If you have never been to prison or don’t listen to rap music then you probably don’t know this. Ricky saw me getting frustrated and called his Auntie to coordinate with my brother to get someone to the jail with bail money. I would never have been able to call on my own unless I could come up with a local Texas number. Shoutout to Ricky for lending me his Securus account and making those calls on my behalf.
“Fuck bein a hip hop purist, when I’m spendin’ 50,000 on Securus!” Lupe Fiasco
Upon release, I went to Taco Bell for the tastiest crispy taco and most refreshing soda I have ever tasted. I smoked a blunt with my cellmate, a TCU college football player, who was released at the same time and then I got my ass promptly out of Texas. I am awaiting trial in the Lone Star State and have retained legal services for what could be a scary battle. We will keep our readers updated on this situation and I promise to also fight for others convicted of the same baseless charges that I am facing. We must fight for our right to retain sovereignty over our own consciousness and bodies.
The law is admittedly backwards by many accounts regarding cannabis, but just as scary is the public ignorance about cannabis medicine products. Many people are completely unfamiliar with the differences between CBD and THC products. Many authorities are completely uneducated about the differences between edible THC in food and THC concentrates for vaping/dabbing. Texas has a zero tolerance policy which means that even trace amounts of THC found in CBD hemp products are treated as a controlled substance and prosecuted as a felony. This is scary for anyone traveling and passing through different jurisdictions with their cannabis medicine. Another interesting caveat is the way officials measure the controlled substance. Texas law includes all materials blended with THC as part of the controlled substance weight. This means that the weight of a tray of cannabis infused brownies now becomes listed entirely as cannabis concentrates. By the law there is no difference between concentration levels of THC. A tray of lightly infused brownies can be prosecuted as more cannabis by weight than actual concentrates like crumble or shatter.
Once you leave Arizona, products like Baked Bros THC syrup are considered something far more serious than marijuana. They are a class 1 scheduled drug that carries felony penalties up to the first degree. We now advise all traveling MMJ patients to keep their medicine at home. If you are unable to travel without your medicine then we advise staying home in Arizona where it’s safe. You can and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if you step into Texas with any traces of cannabis extracts or CBD.
WE MUST RELEASE CANNABIS PRISONERS NOW!
After this jail experience, I have skin in the cannabis fight and now, IT’S PERSONAL!!! We fight this fight to educate people about cannabis, but also we must shine light on the injustices of wonderful men and women serving life sentences or any amount of jail time for cannabis possession. The amount of non violent individuals locked up for possessing a plant is staggering.
These are scary times that we live in but also exciting times. We are changing hearts and minds about the positive effects of cannabis and new cannabis technology is changing the way we utilize the beautiful plant for medicinal consumption. We are not claiming that cannabis is a cure all, but we have seen and experienced the healing effects first hand and will continue to fight for all people to have cannabis access worldwide. All we can do is keep speaking the truth and encouraging others to educate themselves about the possibilities of cannabis. We are not against prescription medicine or any other forms of healing and we understand there is a balance between what works for each patient. Our main goal is to offer options and let people choose for themselves. Opiates have been pushed on our society with absolute intent of addiction and profit. That has to stop and cannabis is part of the solution. We will keep fighting the good fight for cannabis to be accepted as part of a balanced healthy lifestyle. We will keep fighting for the release of anyone incarcerated for so called cannabis crimes. This is the promise of The Cannabis Cactus Magazine.
“The cannabis industry is not perfect, nothing man made is.” Mikey Cassini