In 2014, Edward Grimes was attending a town hall in New Jersey, hosted by then-governor Chris Christie. Grimes, who has a Judah Friedlander-look and carries a cane, earning him the nickname ‘Lefty,’ is a medical marijuana patient. Needing a dose every three hours to manage his back pain, Grimes a state trooper where he could legally smoke his medicine. Medical marijuana had been legal in Jersey since 2010. The officer threatened to arrest Grimes.
“After that we started to go to police departments to see if they all thought the same,” Grimes told The News & Observer.
Under his YouTube account Sativa Cross, Grimes makes a series of videos he calls the “Ignorance is No Excuse Tour.” In these videos, Grimes travels from county to county, police station to station, sometimes alone and sometimes with other cannabis patients, and asks an on-duty officer where he could light up without getting in trouble. Despite being on the platform for stunts and provocateurs, Grimes tries to be as cordial as he can. He always presents his medical card along with the question and carries the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (aka CUMMA) around if needed.
In one video, Grimes visits a police station in Parsippany. He’s accompanied by Don, a vet with PTSD, and his service dog. The officer inside the station gives them a relatively polite and simple answer, and the two proceed to smoke right outside the station.
“That’s the kind of people we like!” exclaims Don.
At a street fair in West Orange, Grimes approaches a group of officers managing traffic. They go on to warn Grimes that they’re actually federal officers, and could technically arrest him given that weed is still a Schedule I drug in the country. “It’s not something we really deal with as much,” says one officer, “So we don’t even know. All we do is tell people exactly what you have there in your pocket (CUMMA). Follow the Attorney General’s advice.”
The officers tell Grimes that he can neither smoke or even possess pot in the park. Grimes says he’ll just hide it in a tree, adding “This is what I have to deal with.”
Before using marijuana, Grimes had used opioids for ten years. Grimes isn’t on this campaign just to quiz unsuspecting police. He wants to bring awareness that despite medical cannabis being legal for eight years, it isn’t exactly much easier for those trying to medicate. On top of police being inconsistent with the existing laws, there are only five dispensaries in the state, and Grimes says shortages are frequent. Jersey is moving towards legalizing recreational cannabis, admittedly at a slouched rate, but Grimes wants to make sure the state can handle its medical users before expanding spreading itself too thin.