Some years ago I was driving into downtown Seattle with my girlfriend and her son to see a movie. Suddenly I see the flashing lights of a police car in my rear view mirror. I pulled over, and the officer advised me that my tail lights were not functioning. A perfectly legitimate reason for the police to stop a driver. Thankfully, I was not given a ticket, just a warning, and shortly thereafter I had my truck serviced and the problem taken care of.
Unfortunately, there’s more to this story. During the traffic stop the officer asked if I had any marijuana in the car. I had none, no drugs, and I don’t drink alcohol. Why did he ask this question? He claimed he smelled patchouli, which he pronounced “pa-Chew-ee.” Encounters with the police are nerve-wracking things even for law-abiding citizens. I couldn’t immediately answer him why there might be a smell of “pa-Chew-ee” in my truck. The fact that this cop couldn’t even pronounce “patchouli” correctly instantaneously put him in the moron-shithead class along with the SPD officer who booked a coffee mug warmer into evidence as a “scale.”
In retrospect, perhaps I got off fairly easily. If I was black or brown perhaps I would have had the “Mexican piss” beaten out of me…
Later, I recalled that I had indeed used a bar of soap my girlfriend had bought that must have been scented with “pa-Chew-ee.”
This story is an example of one of the bizarre side effects of the failed prohibition on cannabis. It worked as one more avenue to shake down, intimidate, search, and question honest law abiding citizens. It functioned as an excuse that cops use to exert power and control, with the flimsiest of pretexts.
With the repeal of cannabis prohibition in Washington, at least on a limited scale, let’s hope the SPD gets back to REAL police work, busting REAL criminals and abandoning these moronic shake down practices.