I got pulled over just after I got off the 405 freeway onto Santa Monica Blvd this morning.
I knew, instantly, it was because my registration sticker was for last year (ironically just a few weeks ago our building manager asked me to put my current registration on it, but I couldn't find my 2011 sticker, only my 2010, so that's the one I had on the car. Because I'm an idiot and figured being one year behind was better than two).
Now before I continue, you should know two things:
(1) My car smells like pot
(2) My strategy for dealing with police officers has always been to play dumb
We pull over to the side of Sepulveda and I roll down the window and it goes a little something like this:
Cop: "Did you know your registration is expired ma'am?"
Me: "Oh yeah, actually it's not I just don't have the sticker on it."
Cop: "Oh okay that's fine just let me see your license and registration then."
So I start to rifle around my glove compartment and I'm taking forever.
Cop: "Okay where's the marijuana."
Cop: "The marijuana. I'm going to need to see it."
Me: "Oh yeah sure. Oh I have a card."
Cop: "Okay I'm going to need the marijuana and the card."
So I hand those over - meanwhile I have taken out ALL the papers in my glove box and am going through them one by one to try to find my registration.
Cop: "Do you have your doctor's note?"
Cop: "Your doctor's note - the certificate. You need to carry that with you."
Me: "Oh really? Oh I didn't realize that I need both. Okay I keep that safe at my house."
Cop: "Well start carrying it with you from now on."
He hands me back the weed and the card. He then looks at my license. I'm still looking for my registration.
Cop: "How long have you lived in California?"
Me: "A little while now."
Cop: "Why don't you have a California license?"
Me: "Oh I spend a lot of my time in Maine for work. I still have a home there."
Cop: "Where do you spend most of your time?"
Cop: "I'll be right back. You keep looking."
So he walks back to his car holding my license - and I throw my pot on the passenger seat while I'm still rifling through those papers. Finally I find it - sure enough I am registered for 2011 and have my sticker stapled to the form. I poke my head out the window and wave at him.
Me: "Heeeey! I found it!"
Cop: "Okay I'll be right there."
Me: "Can we put the sticker on it now?"
Cop: "What's that?"
Me: "Let's put the sticker on now!"
Cop: "Just a moment ma'am."
So after a few minutes he comes back to my window and grabs the registration and then he walks away again.
I send a few emails - first to my boss just to give him the heads up I got pulled over and am going to be late. I look in the mirror at one point and see that the cop is making his way back.
Cop: "I put your sticker on your car but this is a verbal warning that you need to keep your doctor's note on you for your marijuana at all times and you need to get a California license."
Me: "Okay do I just like call the DMV?"
Cop: "Yes you call them up and take a test?"
Me: "Is it hard?"
Cop: "It's just a standard written test ma'am."
Me: "Okay cool I'll do that."
Cop: "It's really important you do. The California laws are different from the Maine laws."
Me: "Okay I guess I can have two licenses?"
Cop: "Yes you can. But if you're in California you need to get that California license."
Me: "Okay well thank you."
Cop: "Do you need me to help get you back to the freeway?"
Me: "Oh ah, huh, no I'm going to work. I got it. Thanks man."
Cop: "You have a good day now."
And off he went and I drove away and started laughing like a crazy person.
Because, well, REALLY?
First of all the dude told me I could have two licenses - is that even real? I'm pretty sure it's not. Secondly, I am so thankful I have a marijuana card because it was truly an insane experience where this drug, that for so long has been associated as WRONG and BAD and ILLEGAL that I had in my car was LEGAL and he couldn't do anything about that. Like this dude actually had to hand me back my little canister of medical-grade marijuana. That was surreal.
I also think it helped that I was playing dumb and that I was pretty calm about the whole thing - I mean of course I was calm, because I knew that outright, I had done nothing illegal (sure you could find some legal grey areas in there, but that worked out to my benefit I guess). Don't get me wrong - I mean deep down I was freaking out that I was going to be fined a SHIT TON of money between the license, the registration and not having my doctor's certificate on me but I really did keep my shit together.
Speaking of keeping my shit together, I mean I wonder what was going through this cop's head when I rolled down my window and he sees this chick he has to deal with - like this dumbass girl who is driving a car that smells like weed - and like OF COURSE she has a registered car but with the wrong sticker on it and OF COURSE she thinks she needs to keep her doctor's note for her pot at home. Like what a dumb fucking white girl stoner. I mean I probably pose the least danger to society ever. But at the same time? That cop could have just FUCKED me over. Not only did he let me go with a verbal warning but he changed my registration sticker for me. I didn't have to lift a finger.
Moral of this story is if you live in a state where pot is legal/decriminalized and you think you're ever going to have it on you in a public place you ABSOLUTELY should do what you can to get a card. I was so thankful that at that moment, everything I was doing was within the parameters of the law. (Ignoring the legal grey areas like - shouldn't the cop have known that you technically need a CA license to even get a pot card? I mean when I got my card I proved my residency by showing my lease, but he could have nailed me on that - whatever I am getting my CA license ASAP, that's for sure).
The other thing I learned here, is that despite the generally bad rep, there actually appear to be cops in LA who recognize when someone's just a dumbass who can't get her shit together. I mean let's be honest, I spend most of my life at work. And when I am not at work I am trying to capitalize on that fact by either writing, or sleeping or working out or watching TV so you're probably not going to find me at the DMV taking care of shit. Or maybe what they say is true and he let me off so easily because I'm a girl and I was calm and polite and kinda dumb. Who knows. I'm incredibly lucky, that's for sure. And incredibly stupid, if we're being honest about the whole thing (and clearly, we are).
When I told my boss the story this morning he was like, "trust me when I was your age and I had a story that included - 'and then the police officer could smell my weed' - it would have gone a very different way. Gotta love California in this day and age."