Opened Mail, Closed Minds

story by Miles Davis
art by Dr. Sumach

My mail is opened a lot.

Last week, while I was at work, I received a phone call from my wife who
was at home. She told me that an undercover cop from the RCMP drug unit had
showed up at our door and asked after my whereabouts. He said that he
wanted to speak to me about a package from the United States that had been
“intercepted” by the fine folks at Canada Customs. Apparently, the
psilocybin cubensis (more commonly known as magic mushroom) spores I had
ordered posed a serious threat to Canadian society. He left a business
card, and suggested that I get in touch with him.

I wasn’t growing anything at the time, so I didn’t get too freaked out or
worried. In fact, if I felt anything it was pissed off and
inconvenienced. It was the second time in a year that I had the local RCMP
Drug Section snooping into my private mail and my personal life. I just
kept on thinking Is this my tax dollars at work? Don’t these bureaucrats
have anything better to do than hassle me for the suspected thought-crime
of cultivating medicinal and magical plants? Why don’t they catch real
criminals? Bunch of fascist fuckheads.

The First Time

The first time the local Drug Section became interested in me was in the
Winter of ’94. I had been building up a personal drug library through the
radical Loompanics mail-order book company, which included books on the
cultivation of marijuana, psychedelic plants and mushrooms, and psychedelic
chemistry. I used a bogus name and got permission from a straight friend to
have the books sent in care of their address, so if the cops started
sniffing around they would be clean, and I would have enough warning to
“rearrange” my apartment. A few months later, I would be glad that I took
these seemingly paranoid precautions.

Apparently, Canada Customs were so concerned about the kind of books that I
was receiving that they tipped off the local RCMP, who then sent an
undercover officer from the Drug Section to show up at my mailing address,
asking who I was and where I could be reached. Luckily, my friend tipped me
off about their suspicions, so I had enough time to quickly clear out the
illegal plants and substances from my home. The narc had left a business
card with my friend, so I got his phone number and gave him a call before
he could ring my front doorbell with a search warrant in the wee hours of
the morning.

He told me he would like to talk to me about some of the books I had been
receiving in the mail so I made an appointment to meet with him. I put on
my Sunday best, popped a valium, and headed on down to the station.

I was expecting to meet some big, burly, bouncer-type cop, but the guy I
met was this freshly shaven twenty-five year old right out of cadet
school. I could have easily seen this same guy playing drug cop, having
himself a hearty hit from the bong at the end of the day.

He was articulate and rather pleasant, and asked me why I was ordering
books like
Marijuana Hydroponics
Psychedelic Chemistry for Fun and Profit.
I assured him that it was for “information purposes only” and that I was
not breaking any law. “Furthermore,” I told him, “as a private citizen in a
supposedly democratic country I should be able to read whatever I want
without having my mail opened by Customs and without having to be
interviewed by the police.”

Towards the end of our interview (or my interrogation) he reminded me that
“manufacturing or cultivating narcotics is a criminal offence”. I
told him that I was well aware of this law, but that I, and a lot of other
people as well, think that drug prohibition is a waste of time and money,
and that it is contrary to the human spirit. He gave his shoulders the
“it’s just a job” shrug and escorted me to the door. I got the phone number
of the jerk-off at Canada Customs so I could give him a piece of my mind

“Hello? Yes, are you the person who opens people’s mail for a living?” I
let him know that I was not at all pleased. I asked him why they would tell
the cops about books that were perfectly legal to bring into the
country. He said that the information contained within “could be used
contrary to Canadian Law and the interests of Public Security.” Books on
growing pot and making magic mushrooms a threat to society? Gimme a break!
I told him “I feel like I live in a police state, that Big Brother is
always watching.” He simply replied “We all feel that way sir.”

The Most Recent Visit

After six months of keeping a low profile, followed by six months of
resuming my gardening and my psychedelic research, I had my most recent
visit from the local Drug Section. I went down to the station again. They
had a new cop this time. He was older, seemed alot more uptight, and wore
snake-skin cowboy boots. As soon as I walked into the windowless interview
room he started to play head games. He told me that Customs had intercepted
a package of mine containing active magic-mushroom spores (preserved in
water-filled syringes, therefore definitely over the thirty-gram limit,
unlike discreet spore prints or sheets of acid) and he wanted to know why I
was ordering them.

“Curiosity,” I said. “I am an amateur mycologist. Besides, I like to
collect esoteric and politically incorrect objects.” He told me that
Customs was going to confiscate them because they were illegal. I
immediately challenged him and insisted that psilocybin, not psilocybin
spores were illegal, and that any attempt to confiscate that which was
rightfully mine would face a legal challenge.

Realizing that I was informed of the law and that I was calling his bluff,
he threatened that “Customs might just try to grow magic mushrooms from
the spores and then charge you with importing an illegal drug.”
I could
not believe how pathetic this guy was. I reminded him that I was importing
magic mushroom spores, not the mushrooms themselves.

It suddenly occurred to me that this was a surrealistic scene out of one of
those anti-drug movies from the thirties. Here I was defending myself for
exercising my natural rights. I told him I wasn’t worried about him or
Customs, and that I wanted my package back. As I was leaving, I said to him
“Don’t you think that it’s strange that something that you can easily grow
in your front lawn is against the law?” He gave the smirk of an asshole
narc and said “Tell it to your Member of Parliament.”

Just One Phone Call

When I phoned Marc at Hemp BC and told him about this cop threatening to
charge me for bringing magic mushroom spores in to the country, he
laughed. “This guy is power-tripping. Nobody has ever been charged with
bringing magic mushroom spores into the country
. In fact,” he boasted,
“we have been selling magic mushroom growing kits, including spores, at the
shop here without any problems.”

Marc suggested that I speak to a lawyer about the situation and demand my
spores back. All it took was a call to the Customs Inspector who was
holding my spores. I told him that I wanted my package or that my lawyer
was going to get involved. He told me that they just needed the $10 GST and
that I would get it in a couple of days.

When I finally got my spores I phoned the cop to let him know that I had
received them as expected, and that I wished him a nice day. I could tell
that he was a little embarrassed and pissed-off, and that he would be
keeping an eye on me for a while.

After I got off the phone I laughed, rolled a joint, and felt good once
again about challenging the faceless bureaucracy of drug prohibition.