Talking to people who just got arrested happens too frequently when you’re a pot journalist, and it’s usually disheartening. They’re angry, depressed, and afraid.
But talking to William Perry last week after police in Maple Ridge, British Columbia raided his Guilty Pleasures sex gear and pot paraphernalia shop was inspiring.
“I’m not going to go silently to the jail cell on this,” said Perry, whose shop was invaded by officers from the Ridge Meadows RCMP (Mounties) unit on the evening of July 6. “I’m going to run for mayor.”
Perry says police came in with a vague search warrant based on a three-month investigation during which he allegedly sold a gram or two of cannabis to undercover agents on several occasions.
“We all know that undercover agents are trained liars,” he says. “They present themselves as medically needy people. They trick people into selling pot to them. I think they should be arrested for fraud.”
Now charged with five counts of marijuana trafficking and one count of possession for the purpose of trafficking, you might expect Perry to be coy about his activities. After all, he doesn’t even have an attorney yet.
“What am I going to do, deny that I believe in freedom, in cannabis, in my rights?” he asks. “The government always wants to decide what kinds of pleasures are legal. That’s why I named my shop ‘Guilty Pleasures.’ It’s a little play on words to illustrate the hypocrisy of being guilty in a court of law, for what ? for using vibrators, for getting high? Sex toys and sex literature used to be illegal in Canada too. Marijuana magazines were illegal in Canada until Marc Emery sold them anyway and changed the law. I smoke pot and I like it a lot. There’s meth heads, violent people, punks and all kinds of real crime around here. What the hell are police doing wasting their time on me?”
Perhaps the police are having fun and making money?
Perry says that although the search warrant did not authorize it, the police seized more than just pot and other logically-seizable “evidence” from his store.
They took Advanced Nutrients fertilizers. They took Volcano and Vrip-Tech harm reduction vaporizers. They took a poster of a frog sitting on a toadstool. They took his archival collection of Cannabis Culture, and other marijuana magazines. They took grow videos, cultivation books, glass pipes, and $6000 in cash.
“Other than the cannabis, none of that stuff they stole is against the law,” Perry protests. “The warrant didn’t say ‘seize all fertilizers and posters.’ They are stealing my legal merchandise, trying to put me out of business. In my opinion, they are the criminals, not me.”
Police statements to the media played up the fact that Perry is a dog lover. Bulldogs to be exact; seven of them, found in the store during the raid. Perry says a police officer threatened to kill his dogs a few months ago. Yes, bulldogs can be fierce, but these seven were a mother bulldog and her six puppies, he says. They’re cute little doggies, he asserts, adding that there was a bird and a cat in the store too, and that on occasion the bird has been known to be fierce with its pointy beak.
Police didn’t seize any of the vibrators, dildoes, sex magazines, videos, lubricants and clothing items that Perry sells, even though several officers seemed fascinated with sexy pictures and gear.
“One of the female police officers did dress up in some of our sexy clothing and dance around the store like it was a big joke,” he says. “This is what they do out here instead of going after real crime.”
Real crime is something the 28-year-old Perry knows something about, and it might be why he got busted.
He speculates that police began their investigation of him because he is a community anti-crime activist who has actively fought street crime, vandalism, meth heads, and other miscreants. Some of those tweaky losers were angry at him, he believes, while others in the community who wanted to run head shops, sex shops or hydroponics shops were a bit “jealous” of him because he’s handsome, outspoken, successful, and has a hottie girlfriend.
A Maple Ridge insider who grows large quantities of cannabis says Perry ran afoul of the axis of evil that exists when cliques of criminals and police are allies in small communities.
“William is an honest guy who doesn’t have connections to organized crime, gangs, violent people, or other dangerous folks,” the insider said. “He’s known as a guy who will chase down some vandal or loser who just trashed something in town, who breaks up fights. He’s real popular with the good people, but many of us suspect some people in the local RCMP detachment are in bed with some badass folks. That’s why some people never get busted out here even though they’re selling tons of pot, but a guy like William who may have sold a few grams, he gets done with a massive raid. The police here are more than hypocrites, they’re an enforcement arm for the big boys. They’re all in bed together. Check what I’m saying. In time, it’s gonna come out, don’t you worry.”
Perry himself doesn’t want to comment on the insider’s specific comments, nor does he seem too worried, even though he’s facing court appearances and lots of scrutiny.
“Marijuana is good for me,” he says proudly. “It helps me deal with anger management and other issues. I only use 100% organic weed. I can’t stand it when people are polluting their weed with poisons that you end up smoking. This isn’t about money or ego, it’s about what’s good for people, and about freedom.”
Unlike most arrested pot people, especially those in the USA, Perry’s defense is a strong offense.
He says he’s going to run for mayor and shake up the political cronyism of small-town Maple Ridge. He’s going to crusade for an investigation into why police don’t, in his opinion, focus on real crime rather than private behavior such as pot smoking and dealing. He says that if the police don’t immediately give back the legal items they seized, he is likely to sue them.
“I wasn’t running a compassion club or openly advertising marijuana sales,” Perry says. “I wasn’t a nuisance to the community. Ask the businesspeople who have stores around me, and they’ll tell you I’m a good guy. If the police got a complaint about me, all they had to do was come in here and discuss it with me and it would have been cleared up. Instead they spend how many thousands of dollars sending all these officers down here to raid me, and how many thousands prosecuting me. I know they intend to keep my $6000, but the taxpayers will lose money on this deal. The police haven’t made this community any safer for arresting me. Not at all.”
Hearing the indignation and righteous rage in Perry’s voice, I asked him if it might not be better if he held off doing press interviews until he had an attorney to advise him.
No, he responded, citing the defiance of Carol Gwilt and Don Briere, founders of the now-closed Da Kine pot caf? in Vancouver.
“It’s like Carol and Don, and Marc Emery, you just keep on going,” he said. “You know in your heart you’re not doing anything wrong. You know you haven’t hurt anyone. You know that society has a war against Mother Nature and her plants. So then the police come and you have to decide if you want to be a coward, or if you want to be true to yourself and try to make more freedom. This is my time to do what Marc has been doing for years. The only thing I’m guilty of is bringing too much pleasure to people.”
Perry’s next court date is in September.
Until then, he says, if you’re ever in Maple Ridge (an hour’s drive from Vancouver), stop in a buy a sex toy to help pay his legal expenses. The sexy toys are not illegal- yet!