In Honor of 4/20, Here’s What It’s Like to Get Arrested for Pot

We’re Stoners, But We’re Good People Too

My boyfriend of two years (at the time, going on 4 now) and I were from Colorado traveling to Florida in our 1997 converted van. We’d been living the vanlife in Colorado all summer.

We Never Wanted to Buy Illegal Weed

Part of the reason we stocked up before we left is we didn’t want to have to learn how to buy weed illegally.

We Moved to Florida so I Could Pursue My Dream Job

I got my dream job working with a company I followed for years. I never told them about my arrest, so out of respect for the company, I’m not going to name them.

Here’s Where the Arrest Story Starts

It was night when we got pulled over. We were about an hour outside of Dallas, where we planned to spend the night with my boyfriend’s grandmother.

More Officers Arrived on the Scene

We didn’t have any other drugs in the car. We didn’t have weapons. It was only our private stash we hoped would last us a few months.

I Watched My Entire Home Get Towed Away

They called a tow truck to take our van. Our dogs rode inside the van on the truck to an animal shelter where they were put outside in a pen. I asked the officers to give them kibble from their food container and some water. Finally, someone did so.

Uniforms Are Horrid, Food Is Inedible, and There Are No Books to Read - Not Even a Bible

We were given scratchy black and white uniforms. I thought they would be orange, but they looked exactly the same as they did in old western movies.

The Men's Cell Was Crowded, But There Were Only Two Other Women

It was about midnight by now, and we first got pulled over close to ten. Both the women were asleep. I hit the call box and asked if I could have something to read. They told me something like reading was only allowed on Sunday.

We Didn’t Get Booked Until 3 AM

Eventually, I lay down and tried to sleep. I woke from deep REM sleep to someone saying my last name. It must have been the second or third time he said it that woke me. I remember waking disgruntled and confused.

Daylight Wasn’t Any Better

I woke up pretty early the next morning. I tried treating the experience like Hemingway in jail, that this would be a great experience for my writing career. I should try to observe the situation around me, maybe do some push-ups or meditate.

Talking to a Judge Was a Joke

We didn’t get called to see the judge until nearly one o’clock.

Every Officer Lied to Us

The officers the night before had said possession of marijuana was a non-arrestable offense. When I asked, he said that was, “more of a myth.” And here I was with a felony in my lap.

They Threatened to Put Me in Solitary

We went back to the holding cells. I asked for a code so I could call my family. They said they would give out codes after the cases had been processed.

Writing Finally Helped

There was a pen in the holding room. It didn’t have a case, it was just the ink cartridge and the tip. But I had my brown paper lunch sack so I tore a page and started to write.

I Cried When I Posted Bail

Then someone came in with paperwork for me to sign. “You’ve posted bail.” I started crying again. I was so relieved and happy I could leave. I asked about my boyfriend, and his family had come through for him too. We were both getting out.

Our Bail Bondsman Was The Kindest Person to Ever Live

After getting out, my boyfriend and I hugged for a long time. Outside, there was a woman we’d never met before named Lindsey.

Thus Started an Enormous Financial Trainwreck

It was $500 to get our van out of holding, for one night in the impound. Fortunately, my boyfriend and I are both savers, and we had the money.

The Very Same Day, a Total Stranger Gave Us Hard Drugs

We stopped in Dallas to get gas. It didn’t seem like a bad neighborhood. There was an organic deli I thought might be a good spot to stop for lunch right across the street.

The Arrest Isolated Me at My New Job — So I Started Drinking Heavily

I never told my new employers or my coworkers about my arrest. I was a small town mountain girl moving to the big city. I was in over my head and didn’t relate to my coworkers, even without the arrest.

I Don’t Feel Guilty

Listen, you probably notice that this article doesn’t contain a sense of remorse. That’s because I don’t feel remorseful.

We Wouldn’t Be Okay If It Weren’t For Family

So what happened next? How is it now a year later and I’m not in jail?

Here’s How Much it Costs to Get Arrested With Pot

As I said before, we’re both pretty good with money. Neither of us had student loan debt. Our ’97 van was paid for in full and neither of us had any car loans. I had four credit cards, two of which were pretty full to maxed out, the other two didn’t carry a balance.

I’m Lucky to Be Okay

Getting arrested didn’t ruin my life. I’m too resilient for that.



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Juliara Baeten

Juliara Baeten

Writer, reader, trying to find myself and sharing what works, and maybe it will work for you too.