Dec 252009

I met Jim Hogshire and his wife Heidi sometime in the early 1990’s. If I remember correctly, Mike Hoy of Loompanics tasked Hogshire with writing an article about our sideshow for the Loompanics catalog. Hogshire had published a particularly controversial book for Loompanics entitled Opium for the Masses, whose major premise was that people were mistaken in assuming that ordinary ornamental poppies were somehow different from “opium poppies”, and thus contained nothing that could get you high.

Ordinary poppies DO contain psychoactive drugs, in fact Hogshire was correct in his assertion that most if not all species of the genus Papaver contain phenanthrene alkaloids which include morphine, codeine, and thebaine.

To my way of thinking, the publication of his book would open the floodgates of people growing or buying “ornamental” poppies to get high. I figured it was one of those things that was too good to last; once the “secret” got out, the game would be over. Much to my surprise, this didn’t happen.

I found Jim and Heidi to be charming and intelligent people, but they both wrestled with significant personal demons.

I haven’t seen or talked to Jim or Heidi in more than 10 years. Over the years I’ve been tempted to write down all of what really happened, but the bottom line is that for all three of us, undignified things happened, and everything ended poorly. There is no real value to be gained in exposing undignified things that happened years ago.

But I’m writing this now because I understand that Hogshire’s book has been republished, this time by Feral House.

In all the chaos of that time period, one incident really stood out for me, an incident that fundamentally changed my perception of the Seattle Police Department, and the criminal justice system in general. The following is a slightly re-worked comment I made on Metafilter in a thread that was later deleted.

Yeah, I was there back in 1996 for whole Jim and Heidi Hogshire fiasco. Jim and Heidi were the first (and perhaps only) Americans ever arrested for possession of dried florist’s poppies.

It’s a long, long, story, and I’ll tell you just a part that changed my view of the criminal justice system forever. When Hogshire was arrested the police confiscated his M1 carbine, various other items, and his dried poppies. His wife was also arrested, though she never even drank poppy tea.

The Hogshires were immediately evicted from their Capitol Hill apartment, here in Seattle. Heidi stayed in Seattle, but Jim went on the lam. After a long time, Jim was able to find pro bono legal representation and the charges were dropped. Jim was still back East, and called to have me go pick up his confiscated items.

So I go down to the courthouse and get put through the whole rigmarole. Thankfully, I was able to transport all his gear by myself in one trip. As you can imagine, everything was packaged in heavily wrapped newspaper, and even the carbine was thoroughly disguised. It was weird walking through downtown Seattle carrying an M1 carbine…

Hogshire wanted me to double check the manifest of what was seized during the raid on his apartment with what the cops actually returned. I carefully unpacked all the stuff on my living room floor. There wasn’t all that much stuff, really. One M1 carbine whose serial number I double checked, a bunch of stuff I don’t remember, and three scales. The scales were, of course, “drug paraphernalia.” One scale was a Dillon Precision triple beam balance, used for reloading. Another scale was some sort of prosaic kitchen scale for weighing out spices and whatnot. The third scale I didn’t immediately recognize. It had an electrical cord coming out, so I assumed it was electronic. But I saw no “Tare” button, or even an on-off switch. It was flat and square, but with a small circular disk on top which I interpreted as some sort of pan.

Then the moment of epiphany.

The Seattle police department had seized and booked into evidence as drug paraphernalia a COFFEE MUG WARMER.

 Posted by on 12/25/2009 Personal History

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.