High in America
The True Story Behind NORML and the Politics of Marijuana
By early March of 1978, Peter Meyers was ready to proceed with
NORML's lawsuit against the government on the paraquat spraying
program. Stroup set Monday, March 13, as the day they would file
the suit and hold a conference to explain it.
At that point NORML knew that the U. S. was deeply involved in
the Mexican spraying program, and it also knew (by the government's
own admission) that contaminated marijuana was being harvested
and returned to the U.S. What it could not prove was that the
sprayed marijuana harmed people who smoked it. That seemed a reasonable
assumption, but there was no proof, because no one had ever studied
Then, the week before NORML'S scheduled news conference, NIDA
finally completed its long-awaited study of the effects of smoking
paraquat-contaminated marijuana. The study was devastating to
all the government's optimistic forecasts. It concluded that a
person who smoked even moderate amounts of the sprayed marijuana
could suffer permanent lung damage.
A debate raged within the government over who should be the bearer
of this bad news. Peter Bourne's office had announced that the
study would take place, but the White House did not wish to associate
itself with government-supported lung damage. Nor did NIDA, which
had carried out the study. Finally, the buck was passed to Joe
Califano, the secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, who
was already in White House disfavor.
The NIDA report reached Califano's office on Wednesday, March
8. That day Stroup got a call from a NIDA official, who summarized
its findings for him. The official said he feared the report "would
never see the light of day" and promised that if the government
didn't release the findings soon, he would send NORML a copy to
Stroup would have loved to break the lung-damage story at his
Monday news conference and thus be able to suggest a government
cover-up. The government, for its part, needed to get the news
out first, so it could at least claim credit for honesty. By Thursday,
Stroup was telling reporters about the report but asking them
to hold the story until his Monday news conference. Someone at
the Senate broke the story on Friday morning, and on Friday afternoon
Califano's office rushed out a press release, one that made no
effort to understate the danger of paraquat-contaminated marijuana.
Its first paragraph warned that smoking it "could lead to
permanent lung damage for regular and heavy users of marijuana
and conceivably for other users as well," and concluded that
"paraquat contamination may pose a serious risk to marijuana
"Permanent lung damage": It was enough to strike fear
into the hearts of even casual marijuana smokers. "Pot Kills,"
screamed the headlines. For days NORML'S telephone lines were
backed up with calls from smokers wanting to know how they could
test their marijuana for paraquat and how they would know if they
were poisoned. (Various entrepreneurs were quick to market "paraquat-testing
kits," which sold like hotcakes and were entirely worthless.)
That Friday night the story made the network news shows. As Stroup
and Farnham watched the news, Stroup was shocked to see that the
person defending the spraying program on behalf of the State Department
was a friend of his, someone he had smoked with in her
pre-government days. Now, there she was, on the evening news,
calmly declaring that marijuana was illegal and the government
had a perfect right to spray it. Stroup jumped to his feet, screaming
abuse at the woman on the television screen, until Farnham feared
he might attack the television set.
At his crowded Monday news conference, Stroup presented himself
as a pro-consumer David challenging the pro-lung-damage Goliath
of the Carter administration. About the only reporters who weren't
interested in what Stroup had to say were those from High Times
and the Yipster Times. They sat in the back of the
room, puffing on joints and yelling that the paraquat scare was
all a hoax being perpetrated by DEA. This theory came from Tom
Forcade, whose paranoia, combined with his pro-smuggling bias,
had convinced him that the paraquat menace had been invented to
scare people out of smoking.
Stroup called him that afternoon. "Forcade, you crazy fucker,"
Stroup yelled, "you're just like every other businessman.
All you care about is your profits, and you don't care if people
die!" Forcade responded by offering Stroup $1000 if he could
produce a single ounce of paraquat-contaminated marijuana.
Forcade aside, NORML'S anti-paraquat crusade quickly found support
across the nation. The New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times,
the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Examiner, and
many other newspapers called for an end to the spraying program.
Fifteen members of the California congressional delegation urged
President Carter to end U.S. participation immediately. New York
lieutenant governor Mary Anne Krupsak wrote to Secretary Vance
that the spraying was "unconscionable." The Michigan
state legislature passed an anti-paraquat resolution. When a Los
Angeles disc jockey suggested that smokers call Jimmy Carter to
protest the spraying program, and helpfully gave out the White
House phone number, thousands of calls jammed the White House
All of which mattered not at all. The State Department was determined
to continue the program, President Carter backed the decision,
and Peter Bourne had become its outspoken defender. Some of Bourne's
friends assumed that he knew better but had simply bowed to the
State Department's determination to play oil politics. In any
event, he spoke out vigorously, minimizing the NIDA report, suggesting
that Califano had just been after headlines, saying there was
more evidence that marijuana was harmful than that paraquat-sprayed
marijuana was harmful, warning of a "heroin epidemic"
if the program was stopped, and declaring, "If the risk exists,
the guy has the option not to smoke the grass to begin with."
(To which NORML replied that the people most likely to smoke Mexican
marijuana were teenagers, blacks, Chicanos, soldiersthe
people least likely to be informed of its dangers.)
Bourne also argued that Stroup was only seizing on the paraquat
issue as a way to revive NORML'S fading political fortunes at
a time when reform legislation was stalled all over America and
money was increasingly hard to come by.
On that, at least, Bourne and Stroup could agree. Stroup saw paraquat
as a legitimate health hazard to American smokers, but he also
saw it as the most potent political issue he had ever got his
hands on. He was constantly amazed that the government would be
so stupid as to continue a program that would threaten millions
of Americans. It was the first time NORML had found a truly national
issue, one that would move millions of smokers to action. For
although relatively few smokers were ever arrested, every smoker
had to wonder if his or her marijuana was poisoned by paraquat.
Stroup was soon crisscrossing the country, appearing on countless
television shows, accusing the government, among other things,
of "cultural genocide." When Tom Snyder asked Stroup
what the contaminated marijuana looked like, Stroup said, "Tom,
I happen to have some here," and pulled out a bagfull for
Stroup had another dramatic issue he was publicizing that spring:
Jerry Mitchell, who was in prison, starting to serve his seven-year
It had been almost two years since Stroup and Mike Stepanian had
gone to West Plains, Missouri, and persuaded Judge Winston Buford
to reduce Mitchell's sentence from twelve years to seven. Howard
Eisberg, the NORML lawyer who was representing Mitchell, raised
several constitutional challenges to the state's marijuana law,
but in March of 1978 the Missouri supreme court rejected the appeal.
Within hours, Mitchell was taken in handcuffs from his apartment
near the Southeastern Missouri State University campus to start
For NORML it was a classic case: the college student with blind
parents, hauled from the campus to prison. The question was whether
publicity, however much it might help the reform movement, would
help or hurt Mitchell. His only chance of freedom was either a
pardon from Gov. Joseph Teasdale or an early parole, and publicity
might anger either the governor or the parole board. Stroup talked
it over with Eisberg, Mitchell, and Mitchell's parents, and they
agreed that NORML should bring whatever pressure it could on the
governor for a pardon. Mitchell, at that point, faced at least
two years in prison, and he and his family decided he really didn't
have much to lose.
Stroup therefore orchestrated the biggest publicity campaign in
NORML'S history on behalf of Mitchell. Playboy carried
several articles on the case, as did Rolling Stone, High Times,
and other youth-oriented magazines. NORML sent a mailing to
all its members urging letters to Governor Teasdale. Stroup appeared
on Phil Donahue's television show, and Donahue showed a taped
interview with Mitchell in prison, discussing what his sentence
had done to him and his parents. By the time he finished, Stroup
was in tears, Donahue was shaken, and apparently many viewers
were moved, because thousands of letters of protest soon flooded
NORML and the governor's office.
Most dramatically, on April 27, Stroup, Eisberg, and Betty and
Roy Mitchell went to the Missouri state capitol to ask the governor
to release Jerry from prison and to require from him a year of
alternative service in a drug-rehabilitation program. They carried
with them petitions with ten thousand signatures, mostly from
people in Mitchell's hometown and students at his college, asking
the governor to lessen his punishment. The governor did not see
the visitors, but they spoke with his legal counsel, who was polite
but noncommittal. After the meeting the Mitchells and the lawyers
held a news conference at the capitolscores of reporters and
photographers were there, from all over the stateand then they
proceeded to the nearby prison farm where Mitchell was confined,
and he held a news conference, flanked by his blind parents.
The entire day was incredible political theater. The coverage
was necessarily one-sided, with all the attention and sympathy
going to the slender, soft-spoken young prisoner and to his blind
parents, with their canes and dark glasses, simple, decent country
people who tried haltingly to express what the loss of their only
son meant to them. Time after time, as he watched, Stroup asked
himself, How can the state of Missouri be so fucking dumb as to
let me be the champion of these two blind people?
As a consciousness-raising exercise, the Mitchell case was a success.
Thousands of people were moved to write Governor Teasdale to express
their revulsion over the sentence given Mitchell. Dozens of Missouri
newspapers supported Mitchell editorially. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
contrasted Mitchell's case with that of an older Missouri
man who pleaded guilty to selling five pounds of marijuana and
was given unsupervised probation.
As a means of freeing Jerry Mitchell, however, the publicity blitz
was a failure. In July, after three months of deliberation, Governor
Teasdale, a forty-two-year-old former prosecutor, said he would
not intervene in the Mitchell case and didn't believe he should
grant pardons except "in the most extreme cases." (The
New York Times commented that perhaps the governor would
have considered it an extreme case if Mitchell had been sentenced
So Mitchell stayed in prison, awaiting a parole hearing the next
year, while NORML took his appeal into the federal courts and
also tried to persuade prison officials to transfer him to a minimum-security
facility where college courses were available.
For Stroup, with both the Mitchell case and the paraquat issue
to publicize, the spring of 1978 was a busy season. If he was
genuinely outraged, he was exhilarated, too. Then he made a mistake.
He went back to Canada.
He went reluctantly, and only at the urging of his new friends
at Canada NORML, who of course wanted the publicity his trial
would attract. It would not be a "test case"you could
hardly have a worse case to test the marijuana laws than that
of someone caught red-handed at a border crossingbut Stroup
felt he could argue that his possession of the marijuana was not
morally wrong and thus raise the Canadian consciousness a bit.
In mapping his legal strategy he turned to a man who was his close
friend and also, in Stroup's opinion, the best drug lawyer in
America, Gerald Goldstein.
Gerry Goldstein's great-grandfather, whose name was Solomon Solomon,
was the first rabbi in San Antonio, Texas, and his father, Eli
Goldstein, was a successful lawyer there. Gerry Goldstein graduated
from Tulane University and then from the University of Texas law
school in 1968. He entered his father's law firm and was soon
very bored. More than bored, he felt guilty, because he had escaped
the military by medical deferment and now was making a lot of
money practicing law while other men his age were dying in Vietnam.
One of Goldstein's heroes since childhood was Maury Maverick,
Jr., a San Antonio lawyer who, like his father before him, was
a liberal leader in Texas politics. (The family name became the
common noun denoting a stubborn or independent person.) Maverick,
it happened, was representing a great many draft resisters. They
were relatively easy cases to win, but most Texas lawyers were
pro-war hawks who wouldn't touch them. Goldstein began taking
some of Maverick's overflow, and in time the draft cases led him
into taking drug cases. It seemed to Goldstein that the drug cases
were usually a form of discrimination, that the kids were actually
being arrested because they had long hair, because the police
saw them as outsiders, hippies, troublemakers. When he heard about
NORML in 1972, he quickly contacted Stroup, who began referring
Texas cases to him. In time, Goldstein worked on Frank Demolli's
appeal and on the Piedras Negras jailbreak case, and in the process
he came to have great respect for Stroup and what he had done.
As Goldstein saw it, Stroup had paid his dues, had paid the dues
for a lot of them. While he and a lot of young lawyers had been
getting rich off drug cases, Stroup had been killing himself for
almost no money at all. He thought that what Stroup had done at
NORML was amazing, and it was amazing, too, to think of all that
energy pouring through one man's body. Keith gave us all balls,
he thought; we owe him for that. It gave courage to lawyers all
over America who wanted to take on the drug laws to see Keith
standing up and being honest about a subject that very few people
were honest about.
Goldstein was living a very good life in San Antonio. He had a
tall, beautiful, English-born wife (and a right-hand-drive Bentley
for her to buzz about in), a stately Victorian home, a pool, a
sauna, and the freedom to do what he pleased, personally or professionally.
He'd taken the case of an unemployed young man who'd taken a job
as a movie projectionist and been arrested for showing Deep
Throat; he won that one before the Supreme Court. He was an
aggressive, commanding figure, a husky, dark-haired Texan in boots
and a hand-tooled cowboy belt, and he tended to dominate any courtroom
This was the lawyer Stroup asked to defend him in his Canada trial,
and in addition to mapping their defense strategy, Goldstein several
times stressed to Stroup an extralegal factor: He must check his
clothes and luggage carefully and make damn sure he was clean
this time. Stroup was amused by Goldstein's concern, but he did
as he was told. He even looked in all ten zipper pockets of his
shoulder bag and turned it upside down and shook it. The search
uncovered one old "roach" and twenty-odd seeds that
he guessed he'd been carrying around for years.
In Montreal, Stroup cleared customs routinely (he didn't wear
his marijuana-leaf pin this time) and then flew on to Calgary,
where he went to his hotel to wait for Goldstein. Soon he had
a call from Sheldon Schumer, a law professor who was his local
counsel. To Stroup's surprise, Schumer reported that the prosecutor
in his case wanted to have dinner with him that night.
Stroup exploded. "Does the fucker want my autograph, too,
before he tries to send me to jail?"
Stroup and his Canadian lawyer were totally at odds. Schumer said
the prosecutor was a nice guy, only doing his job, and it couldn't
hurt to be on friendly terms with him. Stroup saw it quite differently.
He had lived for a long time in a black-and-white world in which
police and prosecutors were enemies. If they were such good guys,
they should get in another line of work. Stroup didn't want to
fraternize with the enemy, and didn't see how other people could
do it. No, Stroup would not have dinner with the prosecutor, and
at length he convinced Schumer of that fact and ate alone in the
hotel dining room.
The next morning, when Stroup and Goldstein marched into the courthouse
in Calgary, they were trailed by a CBC film crew. When they got
inside, the reporter said something had been wrong with the camera.
Would they please go out and come in again? They did, of course,
because that was what this trip was all about: publicity. Stroup
was amazed at the amount of coverage he was getting over one joint.
This was, he thought, virgin territory as far as marijuana politics
Forty or fifty of NORML'S Canadian supporters had crowded into
the courtroom, and quite a few reporters. There were a number
of other marijuana cases that morning, all routine, with the defendants
pleading guilty and the judge giving them a fine. When Stroup's
name was called, he stepped forward and pleaded not guilty.
The judge granted permission for Goldstein to represent Stroup.
Goldstein immediately called his client to the stand.
"Why do you plead not guilty?" Goldstein asked.
"Because a plea of guilty connotes moral turpitude, and
marijuana smoking is not immoral," Stroup replied.
"Did you, as charged, bring approximately two grams of marijuana
into this country?"
"Why do you not consider this immoral?"
"Because marijuana-smoking is what is called in Latin malum
prohtbitum rather than malum in se." It was, he
went on to say, prohibited by the law, like speeding or double-parking,
but not immoral. That was the political point Stroup was trying
to make, the lead he wanted on the next day's news stories. By
admitting he'd brought in the marijuana, Stroup had guaranteed
that he would be convicted, but he had also silenced the prosecutor.
He would be fined, but his side would get all the publicity. And,
as it happened, Stroup and Goldstein had another trick to play.
Goldstein held up a sheet of paper. "Mr. Stroup, I hand you
a copy of a news article from the Washington Post, which
I'd like for you to read to the court."
Stroup took the paper. "Yes," he said gravely, "this
is an article I read recently, quoting Prime Minister Trudeau
as follows: 'Those who come to Canada with a joint or two won't
get hassled by us. But those who come with quantities to sell
will likely get their asses kicked.'"
"Mr. Stroup, did you in any way base your conduct in coming
to Canada on Prime Minister Trudeau's statement?"
Stroup said he certainly had, that he'd never dreamed he'd be
arrested for one joint, and that he had no intent of confronting
As Stroup stepped down, the judge asked to see the clipping of
the Trudeau statement. Goldstein then declared that his client
was an important American lawyer, dedicated to social justice,
and he read into the records the letters from Peter Bourne and
Stuart Statler. With that, the defense rested. The prosecutor
also rested his case: Stroup had already admitted his guilt. The
judge said he found the defendant guilty and assessed the standard
fine, about $100. Stroup and Goldstein exchanged a wink. It had
all gone perfectly.
When Stroup went upstairs to pay his fine, he encountered the
prosecutor, a man named Smith. Stroup had refused dinner with
Smith the night before, but now he was feeling expansive, and
he invited the prosecutor to have coffee with him, Goldstein,
and George Baker. They went down to the coffee shop and had a
pleasant-enough chat. Smith admitted he'd be happy if he never
had to prosecute another marijuana case. Then Stroup and Goldstein
left for the airport. Stroup was going to fly down to San Antonio
for a few days' rest. Among other attractions, Goldstein's wife,
Chris; had a beautiful friend she wanted him to meet.
At customs the agents knew who Stroup was. "Didn't I hear
something about you on the radio?" one of them asked. "Didn't
you just have a trial for marijuana?"
Stroup grinned. "Yes, we did have a discussion of marijuana
with one of your fine Canadian judges."
Stroup was feeling good, cocky, and the agent seemed to enjoy
the exchange, but some other agents gathered around, and they
didn't seem amused. They started searching Stroup's suitcase,
and one of them asked to see his shoulder bag.
Stroup handed over his shoulder bag, the one he had so carefully
searched in Washington. He was getting a little nervous, not because
of the bag but because of the time. Goldstein had gone on ahead,
and the last thing Stroup wanted was to miss his plane.
Suddenly one of the agents jerked something out of the bag. "What's
this, Mr. Stroup?" he said. "I do believe it's a bit
"What?" Stroup said. What was happening? There couldn't
be a joint in that bag.
"And what's this?" the agent continued. "It looks
like a vial of cocaine." It was indeed a small vial with
traces of white powder inside it.
Stroup was too stunned to speak. The agents were suddenly surrounding
him. "I don't believe you'll be making your plane, Mr. Stroup,"
one of them said. "You may not be leaving Canada for quite
Stroup could see Goldstein trying to fight his way back through
the crowd, but before he could get there, the agents had led Stroup
back into the windowless search room. "We've had enough of
your shit, fellow," one of them said, and they shoved him
up against the wall to frisk him. "All right, give me one
piece of clothing at a time," another said, and when Stroup
handed over both his socks at once, the agent snapped, "One
at a time, motherfucker. Listen, the joke's over. You're going
to jail." They seemed furious, ready to hit him if given
the slightest excuse. Stroup still couldn't focus. Where had the
joint come from? Fuck the joint: It was the cocaine that would
kill him. Cocaine meant jail, period. Had they planted it on him?
Or had he been stupid enough to miss it somehow? What did it matter?
He'd been crazy ever to come back to Canada in the first place.
What was wrong with him? His crazy grandstanding had finally caught
up with him. He was headed for a Canadian prison, and for no good
reason at all. He was confused. It was as if he were going crazy,
or having a bad trip on acid. Things were happening too fast,
were out of control.
Three Mounties came to get him. Two of them had done the same
thing six months earlier. They looked at Stroup and burst out
"Not you again," one said. "You've got to be kidding."
"It's me," Stroup said.
"Well, it won't take so long this time," the Mountie
said. "You've already been fingerprinted."
"That's great," Stroup said. He tried to smile. At least
these guys were friendly. Already he was a con, clutching at straws.
On the ride to the jail, one of the Mounties asked, "Did
you do this on purpose? Get yourself busted again for the publicity?"
Stroup shook his head and said no, that really hadn't been his
plan at all.
They put Stroup in a large cell with four or five other prisoners.
The Mounties had told him that Goldstein was trying to arrange
bail but that it was very unlikely he'd get a hearing before morning.
That meant a night in jail, and Stroup was terrified by the prospect.
Too many marijuana prisoners had told him about homosexual rape
in jails and prisons; the idea made him physically weak. Whatever
his faults, Stroup thought, he was not a violent person, and he
was horrified at the idea of other men attacking him. So when
the other prisoners tried to make conversation, to be friendly,
Stroup cowered in a corner, giving simple yes and no answers,
trying for the first time in his life to make himself invisible.
Still, he had to talk. For all he knew he would offend the others
by keeping to himself, and he got to know a man of twenty-eight
who'd spent the past eight years in prison for armed robbery.
He was in this jail overnight waiting to be transferred from one
prison to another. Stroup bummed a cigarette from the man. He
hadn't smoked in ten yearshe hated cigarettesbut he thought
a cigarette might give him a buzz, make him a little high, and
he was desperate for anything that would relieve his gloom. It
worked, sort of. He felt a little light-headed, so he smoked a
second one, but it made him feel sick to his stomach, so he gave
up on cigarettes. He tried to read a copy of the novel Shogun
that he'd brought along, partly as a joke, in case he got
any jail time. He couldn't concentrate. Then he talked to a man
in his forties, an alcoholic who was doing sixty days for drunken
driving. Finally someone produced a battered deck of cards, and
Stroup and three other men played an erratic game of bridge. Stroup
hadn't played since college, and one of the men had never played,
but it made the time pass.
It was late afternoon when Goldstein arrived, along with a Canadian
lawyer named Webster MacDonald, Jr., who was experienced in drug
cases. They were on their way to a bond hearing, the lawyers explained,
but the prospects did not look good. Smith, the prosecutor, was
furious. As he saw it, he'd been friendly to Stroup and Stroup
had tried to make a fool of him by deliberately getting himself
arrested a second time. He wanted to throw the book at Stroup.
He had spoken of a six-week jail term.
The magistrate was young, skinny, and bewigged, and he seemed
to be in the prosecutor's pocket.
"I see Mr. Stroup is unemployed," he began.
"No, Your Honor," Stroup said. "I'm an attorney
in Washington, D.C., and have been for ten years."
"But you're unemployed in Calgary."
Stroup could not resist a touch of sarcasm. "By that definition,
two hundred million Americans are unemployed in Calgary."
The prosecutor jumped to his feet. "Your Honor, it should
be pointed out that this man was apprehended at the airport, fleeing
Stroup couldn't believe it. "Your Honor," he protested,
"I was at the airport because I was going home. I'd just
finished a trial, one I had no legal obligation to attend, and
I was catching my plane back to the U.S." Goldstein and MacDonald
pleaded for bond, no matter how high. Their client had returned
for his first trial, they argued, and he would return for a second.
The magistrate said it seemed to him that the prisoner might flee.
Bond was denied. That meant Stroup would await his second trial
Stroup turned to Goldstein. There were tears in his eyes. "I
wish you'd call Lindsey and tell her not to worry."
"I've already talked to her," Goldstein said.
The bailiff was coming to handcuff Stroup and lead him away. "See
you in the morning," Stroup said.
"I'm sorry," Goldstein said.
"So am I."
Back in his cell, facing his first night in jail, Stroup was more
terrified than ever.
At 7:00 P.M. a jailer came to take the men to their evening showers.
The men were to strip naked and be marched to the shower room.
Stroup held back as long as he could, fearing the indignity, the
vulnerability. Finally he took his shower and, still naked, was
given a towel and led down the hall to a row of little six-foot-by-three-foot
cells. They were one-man cells that were being used by two men.
The jailer told Stroup to pick his cell. They were all occupied,
so he had to pick a companion for the night. He held back, afraid,
not knowing what to do. It was like Russian roulette. What if
he picked the wrong cellmate? Was this some kind of setup, some
"Make up your mind fast," the jailer said.
Stroup stepped into the cell with the twenty-eight-year-old who'd
given him the cigarettes. It proved a good decision. The fellow
went quickly to sleep, and Stroup spent the night staring at the
dark ceiling and listening to the two men in the next cell noisily
engage in sex. He kept thinking, Six weeks, I can't handle six
weeks of this.
The next morning two Mounties took Stroup to a holding cell near
the courtroom where Goldstein was waiting. He quickly outlined
Stroup's alternatives. He could plead not guilty and go to trial,
but if the judge did not grant him bond, it meant he would have
to await trial in jail, perhaps for several weeks. Or he could
plead guilty to a marijuana-possession charge. The prosecutor
had reluctantly dropped the cocaine charge, after flying in an
expert who had advised him that the traces of cocaine on the vial
were not enough to make a case. Goldstein had been talking to
the prosecutor, trying to convince him Stroup had made a stupid
mistake but hadn't got himself arrested just for publicity. The
prosecutor had calmed down to the point that he said he would
be neutral on the question of a jail term. They had to face the
possibility that the judge would give him a jail term, but Goldstein
had been watching the judge in court that morning, and his instinct
was that he would be reasonable. Goldstein said he thought they
should gamble on a guilty plea. Stroup agreed.
Goldstein left, and a man from the U.S. counsel's office came
with the helpful news that if Stroup got a sentence of more than
six months, he could serve it in the U.S. under a U.S.-Canada
In midafternoon two Mounties escorted Stroup into the courtroom.
It was the same courtroom he'd been tried in the day before, but
not the same judge. As Stroup entered, his Canadian lawyer whispered
to him, "Don't say a word!" Stroup did as he was told.
Goldstein entered a guilty plea. The prosecutor quickly said,
"Your honor, The Crown notes that Mr. Stroup was before this
same court only twenty-four hours ago, for the same charge, and
believes that should be considered in determining sentence."
MacDonald reminded the judge of a recent, somewhat similar case
in which a California doctor had been arrested in Canada for marijuana
possession a second time but was given probation.
"I see Mr. Stroup in a different situation," the judge
said. "His profession is dedicated to changing the marijuana
laws. He must have been aware of the legal repercussions of his
Stroup sagged. That was it. He would get jail time. The only question
was whether they could get him out on bond pending appeal.
Then, to his astonishment, the judge said that he was fining Stroup
$300. There was no jail sentence. Stroup almost ran from the courtroom,
lest the judge change his mind.
That night he and Goldstein and Chris and Chris's beautiful friend
sat by the pool under the star-spangled Texas sky, and the Canadian
jail seemed a million miles away. Canada was behind him. He could
not go back there, and he never wanted to go back there. And yet
it was not entirely behind him. When he got back to Washington,
back to NORML, he could sense the impatience of Schott and Meyers
and people on his board. The first Canadian bust had been a joke,
more or less. (When he returned to Canada for his first trial,
NORML'S staff had organized an office pool on how big his fine
would be.) Then there had been the pie-throwing incident, which
wasn't a joke. And now this second Canadian bust, which made him
and NORML both look crazy as hell. Stroup wrote a detailed account
of the Canadian episodeas he had, a few months earlier, of
the pie-throwing episodeand sent it to all NORML staff and
advisers. He raised the possibility that he might have been set
up by the Canadian customs agents, but he admitted it was just
as likely that he'd simply been careless. That was what worried
him most. Was he getting too careless? At some level, did he want
out of NORML, so much so that he was trying to self-destruct?
He didn't know, and as the spring progressed, he didn't have much
time for soul-searching. For one thing, the paraquat issue was
still hot, and he was still speaking out against it all over the
country. For another, his socializing with the Carter administration
and his anti-paraquat campaign were about to merge, as he became
friendly with Chip Carter and tried to recruit him for some high-level
lobbying against the Mexican spraying.