For those of you that have been waiting, here is the follow-up story to “Travelling with Cannabis as my only Companion"...
The morning was pretty uneventful except for the fact that I packed the same way I did before we left for Jamaica at Christmas of last year and I couldn’t get my suitcase done up!
Gary heard me struggling with the zipper, so he came down the hallway to see what I was up to. He looked at the suitcase and then at me and teasingly said, “You know you’re only going for 4 days, right?”
I looked up at him and he gave me the little smirk he uses for occasions like this, when he’s trying to bring my anxiety level down a couple of notches. He grabbed my hand and pulled me toward him and we hugged; he made everything okay in my world.
We arrived at the airport 2 1/2 hours ahead of my flight and parked the car. Gary and I both thought he’d be able to come with me to speak with the police but we were mistaken. The next thing I knew, he was standing with his hands on my shoulders telling me I was going to be just fine. The tears started almost immediately and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this.
I started to panic and he could see it in my eyes, so he hugged me and told me how proud he was that I was doing this. As he held me, he reiterated how strong I was and how happy my nephew would be to see me. Then the next thing I knew was that Gary was handing me my carry on and we were walking away from each other.
I had eaten a half a gram of cannabis just before we got out of the car and for the most part I was pretty calm, but then all of a sudden I was standing in front of a 'screening officer.' I opened my mouth to speak and nothing came out at first but then I heard myself say “I’m travelling with medical marijuana.”
At first she looked at me like I’d destroyed her day, but then she turned and walked over to where the bins were and grabbed two more. I wasn’t sure what she was going to do with the extra bins and watched her as she took one bin, placed it before my stuff and then took the other bin and placed it after my stuff. She looked at me again and said “It really smells," and this is when I apologized and started to tear up.
(As I’m recalling it and writing it down, I’m having an anxiety attack - lol - but back to my story!)
She looked at me sympathetically this time and said it was okay, that lots of people travelled with cannabis now and she was only following protocol. She told me to wait where I was and went down to the end of the line and spoke to another one of the 'screening officers.'
Next thing I knew, they were ushering me through the metal detector and then patting me down; first my front and sides, then my back and sides, and then the bottom of my shoes. Here, in front of 200 people, I am standing with my hands straight out to the sides being searched and there were people all around me, looking at me like I was a criminal; at least it felt that way.
The 'screening officer' finished patting me down and asked me to go to the end of the security line and wait there. From where I was standing, I could see there were a few guards waiting for me, as well as the manager of security. Before I knew what was happening, he was shaking my hand, giving me a business card and telling me they would like to hear about my experience.
There were people everywhere and it was all I could do to keep myself grounded. Sweat started to come out of every pour of my being, so I took out my fan and started fanning myself. Two police officers were making their way through the crowd and I watched them closely until they ended up standing a foot away to my left.
They were talking to each other and eyeing the crowd to see where the “user” was standing. The cop directly to my left, looked at me, smiled and then continued to scan the crowd.
I put my hand out to them and said I think you’re looking for me? The officer that had just smiled at me said “Usually when people see us coming, they run in the other direction. It’s quite rare for them to give themselves up willingly,” and they both chuckled.
Their demeanor was enough to break the ice and stop the tears that had been welling in my eyes from dropping. I’ve always been one to use humour in times of need and here it was, working for me again. The officers were smiling and reassuring me that everything was okay and not long after, I was sitting in an airport restaurant, drinking a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and writing this.
Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.
P.S. To the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and Peel Regional Police - thank you so much for your professionalism and compassion; I won’t forget it.