A story about Pot.... Marijuana

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Clearwater AL

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Again, just something to read while things are slow on the other sub-forums. For what it’s worth. It took me
a several days to put this together now, almost down to typing with one hand.

I’ve spent four days deciding whether or not to post this… some may take it as being incriminating :)

First, when things get back to somewhat normal, Florida is a great place to takea Vacation. It has some of
the most beautiful beaches. There’s even one to this day with just an old tennis racket you can sift up sharks
teeth at water’s edge. Key West is a jewel, and Marathon, about half way to Key West. Sanibel and Captive Islands.
There’s a road on Sanibel with my family name. For a while no need for getting on a cruise ship to go to some
place as Florida has near the same.

What I often remember recalling my younger years.

Florida during the 70s and up to the mid 80s living along the Central West Coast of Florida was fun. All the little
beach communities, from Clearwater Beach down to St. Pete. Bellaire Beach, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores,
Redington Beach, Madeira Beach all had little beach bars just off the beach shores. No AC, the doors were open,
just ceiling fans, some wobbled, fans on stands going back and forth. Women sitting at the bars with just their
bikinis on, guys with no shirts having a cold one from being down on the beach. The juke box playing Jimmy
Buffet tunes.

There were no cell phones, a lot of these little beach bars didn’t even have a TV… if they did it was a small one
because being tube sets then with rabbit ear antennas with tin foil balls on the end of each antenna. Cable came
later. No talk of politics, Viet Nam was over, people talked to each other. For some the barmaid was their entertainment.
They’re all gone now.

Pot… with so many now using it in different forms I guess I can write about it now. Back then “Pot” along those little
beach communities was at an all time high. It wasn’t being sold to kids, it wasn’t around schools. It was a young
adult and older adult thing, college kids and tourists. Local lawyers, cops, (yes cops), business owners, wealthy
residents and others were into smoking and selling a little “reefer” here and there to friends in need.

The sellers (“dealers” is a dirty word, now referred to as drug dealers), I like “sellers.” It was just a bunch of good “ol boys doing something illegal somewhat for the thrill. Today there is a TV series called “Moonshiners”…it was the same thing!

If you were financially fortunate enough to afford buy a bale (square grouper) or more you could keep your friends
well supplied, you made a good profit and often they bought enough from you they could keep their friends supplied and sell some on the side making a profit too. It was amazing what just a “lid” or an ounce ended up
selling for.

Never keep it at home, rent a small storage unit in a made up name and address, pay a few months in advance, they
seldom asked for ID. Keep it there and the cash. Never deposit sizable cash amounts to a bank account or be questioned with a large amount of cash on you. One would stash it as quickly as possible.

Everybody had nick names, “Ohio Jack, “Rug Larry”, “Carlos”, “Yankee”,“Henry Hooks” and like “St. Pete Steve”. To this day nobody knows what their real names were. Your word, hand shake was as good as a written contract.

Anyway, it was “High Times”, great party times, beach chicks, beach bums and money to be spent. Jimmy Buffets band was called the “Coral Reefer Band”…“Reefer” didn’t mean the coral reefs.

Everybody went to a going away “get together” for Steve Lamb (author of the book “The Smugglers Ghost” who was
headed to do 27 months on prison). He got caught. Steve smuggled the most “Pot” ever into Florida to this day,
hundreds of tons from the Islands. At the time he was a millionaire. Steve even had hundreds of thousands of dollars
buried in containers in his mothers back yard. He took care of her until she passed.

Finally, all good things come to an end. Bad people started to get into the fun learning of the money being made.
They weren’t having just fun with it… they came in carrying guns, thugs and ruthlessness that wasn’t there before.

People got threatened, robbed, hurt physically and worse. That brought the attention and wrath of the Feds, State,
County and Local law. It got so bad a law enforcement incentive was called “Zero Tolerance.” It became the beginning
of the famous words… “Drug Wars.”

A lot of the smart and wise Good ‘ol Boys got out of it…many didn’t and paid the price, losing good jobs, careers, and
marriages having to do harsh jail/prison sentences and then having a criminal record to follow them the rest of their lives.

To wrap up the story, during that Zero Tolerance program people who may have got caught with just a couple joints in
their pockets suffered severe consequences and even jail time. The Coast Guard was in on it too. You could be out in the
open water in your boat and a Coast Guard boat may pull up alongside and ask, “Captain, may we board?” If you said “no”
you were in for a long day. If they happen to find even a couple of “roaches” with their sniffer dog maybe dropped from
previous guests on the boat, they could confiscate your boat. If the dog even seem to sense something that wasn’t there …
they would literally tear your boat apart. Found nothing. Some would help putting everything back… others just left.
It was over the top.

Today there are people still sitting in prison for getting caught with a pound… sixteen measly ounces.

So… today marijuana is nearly legal in some states, legal in several, or very low level misdemeanor offenses in others.
Some states now it’s just a written ticket and maybe a fine.

Ok, why did it take so long for Scientists, Doctors, Governors and Politicians to finally accept there is something good
and beneficial from something they once scourged and sent people to jail for?

Now you can enjoy or find relief with so many different forms of marijuana.

Maybe some “Thanks” is due to the early days of just Good ol Boy smugglers and sellers just having fun 40 years ago
that jump started the new marijuana revolution.
 
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KevinM

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As I’ve said to you before Clearwater, I remember it well, and you have described the beach town scene perfectly. A fun read.

Reminds me of a line from an old Andy Griffith episode where they tried to clean up Ernest T. Bass and had a social event with him. A young lady asked him if he heard the thunderstorm the night before and he said “yep, I was right there in it.”

For anyone who is interested in those Wild West days in Florida, I also suggest (Besides Steve Lamb’s book) the documentary “Square Grouper: The Godfather’s of Ganja“, about Everglades City. Best, Kevin
 

KevinM

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Oh, and one other memory...almost all of those bars had at least one huge set of sharks jaws hanging on the wall behind the bar, along with photos of huge marlins, etc.
 

Clearwater AL

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Kevin, many of those little beach bars were just beer and wine licensed.
That’s why there were so many. They were really called Taverns.

Owning one wouldn’t make you rich but you could keep your day job, or
career by hiring a good day barmaid and night barman during the week
and good part timers to cover the weekends.

(Owning a bar has a hard rule… “Don’t become your own best customer.”)

The side cash… $ports parlays, running tabs for the locals during the week
who worked pay check to pay check and would be broke by Monday, the
coin op machines (pool table – juke box) was cash in your pocket. No IRS.
They could run tabs only on draft beer and wine, you had to account for
all bottle and can sales, there’s no ounce count to draft beer kegs and wine
bottles the same…back then some would have wine with ice and club soda
or straight up. Again, no ounce count possible from a bottle of wine.

For the locals the “Tab Rule” was clear … their tabs had to be paid by
Saturday afternoon or they were cut off until further notice. It would take
some amends from them and a serious conversation. Yes, you would get
stuck with some unpaid tabs occasionally.

Donate! When the different law enforcement agencies come around asking
for contributions to their charities… donate. Put their decal or sign in the
front window. Don’t forget the PBA… Police Benevolent Association.

Aw, the good old days… when a well placed hundred dollar bill often was
a good investment. :)

Yea, they were kinda shaking beach bars down but back then… like you wrote,
The Wild West (Coast) Days of old Florida.
 

vltsra

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Dear Al, thanks for the stories. What an effort! You really brought to life a moment in time in Florida. Thanks for sharing.
 

Clearwater AL

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Thanks vitsra.

Just a little more. If the police agencies wanted to send a message to a bar or tavern
for reasons on Saturday night they would park one of their cars across the street or
the side street. The usual standing room only crowd would drop to plenty of room. :)

To wrap up the subject of marijuana... how it has finally evolved from something
President Nixon and Florida Governors called "The Scourge of America" to
something now legal, nearly legal and now such a valuable medicinal purpose.

Ok, time for a new topic on the "After 5 Forum". Thanks to those who read it.
 

KimT

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When I first started taking classes at the college where I eventually taught, teachers would go outside and take a couple hits. They were allowed to smoke cigarettes in the classroom but, sometimes, they would get high and some of the students joined them. That ended in the early 80s. We have some great beaches on the East coast of FL, too. New Smyrna Beach, St. Augustine Beach, Flagler Beach. I remember landing here in the late 70s and it felt like I'd died and gone to heaven.
 

EricInLA

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I'm spoiled - I practically grew up on the beaches of Southern California, and have never left. (Think Jeff Spicoli and his "tasty waves") I'm still boogie boarding, and now stand-up paddle boarding, as long as this body will let me. And then when it quits on me, I'll just go there and breath in the ocean air and listen to those magnificent waves crashing.
 
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