by Kyle Sansoucie
Mary Jane, cannabis, hashish, bhang, hemp, kef, kif, charas, ganja, sinsemilla, dope, hash, grass, pot, draw; unless you were born yesterday you’d know that these are words for the street drug marijuana. Thank D.A.R.E. for letting me know at a young age that setting that funny leaf on fire makes you feel really good, and then telling you to never do it because it’s WRONG and BAD and you’ll go to PRISON and HELL. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been known to sample the devil’s lettuce myself, and i’m not in prison or hell… yet. But going to prison for weed was not unheard of. Sure it’s legal in most states now. But it wasn’t always. In 2010, 52 percent of all drug arrests were for marijuana. There were over seven million arrests for marijuana from 2001 to 2010. My father was one of them.
Before he had even met my mother, my father was busted in 1995 and spent a couple years in prison. He was out a short while, just long enough to create an heir to his legacy before he was sent back to prison for the same charge.
My mom told me a story once about my dad had schemed to create a tube that ran from a bag of clean pee he had hidden away in his pants. His parole officer was due to come over and test his urine for traces of THC. He spent hours crafting this tube. When he was finished, all he had to do was pull the nozzle from his waistband and unscrew a cap. Despite his meticulous efforts, his parole officer demanded to be there while he pee’d in the cup. He just pissed in the cup and handed it over and the officer was on his way. He turned to my mom just after the door shut and sighed “I guess I’m just going back.”
He was in and out of prison frequently, and my mother had had enough. When he was picked up for possession around his third time, she decided it was time for a change. I was three years old when we made the move to Maine. My mom left my dad and moved to another state in the same day. He was in prison for 70 percent of my childhood, and the rest of the time didn’t matter because I lived too far away to see him, so naturally I didn’t even really remember him.
Growing up without my dad was tough, I won’t even pretend it didn’t mess with me. My mother met my step-dad soon after the move to Maine. Unfortunately he’s pretty much the classic stereotype step-father, so naturally we didn’t get along. I remember my dad sending letters promising how when he’d get out he’d stay out and get his own place. I remember believing that and how much I couldn’t wait for the day I could just go to my dads and hang out with him. The kids on TV with divorced parents got two Christmases and now I was going to too.
He finally got out for good in 2012, but not because he managed to quit smoking. My dad died of a heart attack in 2013.
Sadly, I’ll never know my father the way a son is supposed to, but according to my mother the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Despite having very little memory of him, my mom reports that we have the exact same mannerisms. There have been times where she just sat back in disbelief with a goofy smile after I say something he would’ve said or make the same facial expressions he would make. Little things like that. “What?” I sometimes ask when I notice she’s looking nostalgic, prompting her to tell me dumb stories of the past like the time his brother was stoned and thought a birds nest was a camera planted by the government, and my Dad was trying to explain to him that he was just high and that there is indeed no government camera in their backyard tree in rural Massachusetts. Well, who knows? Maybe if he checked the nest he wouldn’t have gotten busted. That’s a joke, everyone knows the birds are the cameras, not the nests.
Regardless of whether or not the birds work for the bourgeoisie, the laws have changed since my dad’s time. Hell, as I sit here writing this article my eyes are red, and not because I’m emotional. If I was born in a time sooner than I was, my story could have easily ended the same way my fathers did. If my dad was born in a different time, he wouldn’t have spent most of his adult life behind bars. It’s a surreal thought. He may not have lived long enough to see it, but I’ll experience it for him.