On a Sunday afternoon, Norah, my four-year-old, handed me my neighbor’s grow license. She’d found it in the yard. On the top right corner was a logo for the Oregon Health Authority. Near the top it read, “Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Registration Information.” On the back was a tire track; obviously it had been in the street. It also held the name, birthdate, and address of the guy across the street from me. He was listed as, “the grower.” Below his name was the same information for a woman who lived in a town a few miles away. She was listed as the “patient.”
At the bottom was a perforated rectangle that read, “this card must be posted at the grow site.”
I looked at it for some time, not sure what to make of the whole situation. I thought about what I knew about my neighbor. He was obviously younger than most of the people in the neighborhood, probably in his mid-twenties. He had tattoos on his forearms and wore glasses. On Saturdays I could hear his stereo in my living room. He always seemed to have friends over, and his girlfriend had green hair. One of his friends had a big beard and long hair, and when he sits on my neighbor’s porch bench smoking cigarettes, he reminds me of a late Jim Morison. The neighbor and I had waved at each other a few times, and once, when Tristan (my seven-year-old) fell on his roller blades, he helped Tristan up and asked if he was okay.
I know that the man did little to no yard work because his lawn was long enough to be bailed, but in the past few weeks, I’d noticed him hauling a bunch of peat moss into his backyard. At the time I thought, “good for him. He’s starting to take pride in his home.” But as I looked at the date on his growing license, noticed that it was approved one week earlier, I realized what he’d really been up too.
Until I found his growing license, I didn’t even know his name. Now I knew that and more.
Mel and I bought our house about six months earlier. It was our first home.
I felt a pit in my gut about the whole thing, and I wasn’t sure why.
I brought it into the house and showed it to Mel. She was in our kitchen, sitting at the table, holding our new baby. Her short brown hair was pulled back, and she was in a t-shirt and jeans.
She read the license a couple times, tugged at her glasses, then she responded.
“Really?” she said.
“Should this bother us?” I asked. “I mean, I know it’s legal in Colorado and Washington. It will probably be legal in Oregon soon. But… I just don’t feel right about it, and I’m not sure why. I feel like I should get pissed off and try to stop it, but I don’t know what good that would do. And honestly, if it were a microbrewery, or something to do with alcohol, I don’t think it would bother me. And that seems strange. Or if we were renting this house, I don’t think I would care. But for some reason, because it’s pot, I am really uneasy about it.”
Mel thought for a moment before responding. I told her about the peat moss, and she read the license again. Then she said, “I’m not in love with this. I mean, I don’t really care what the guy does in his home as long as it’s legal. I don’t care that he’s growing pot. I just don’t want him to attract creepers into our neighborhood.”
I agreed with her.
Before this moment, I really didn’t care either way about the pot debate. In fact, all I knew about pot was that I smoked it for about six months in high school, I ate a lot of Little Debbie cookies, and drank a lot of Mountain Dew. Once, while high, I rode my bike into a chain link fence. It was fun for a bit, but then I grew out of it. Mel had never smoked pot. I have some friends that still smoke pot. Some of them are motivated people with good jobs, but most are not. Most live with their parents.
Honestly, before this whole incident, I didn’t think much about the legalization of pot outside of listening to the news. But suddenly, now that I was a homeowner, with kids, and across the street from me was a 20 something growing weed, I felt like I had to do something, but I didn’t know what that something was. Perhaps I was supposed to get pissed off and put up a fight to make this guy stop. Maybe I was supposed to give the guy back his license, sit down on his sofa, and light up a bowl. Perhaps I should've just thrown the thing away, and forgot about it.
Mel suggested that I chat with our other neighbors. Get their opinions.
I walked across the street, to Jim’s house. He shared a fence line with the grower. Jim was a stocky guy with a grey goatee. Probably in his early 40s. I asked him what he knew about his neighbor, and Jim said, “Mathew? We’ve talked a few times. Nice guy.”
I told him about the license I found in my yard.
Jim pulled his jaw back, making a, “I don’t know what to tell you about that” face. “That’s a tough one. You know what, though, I’ve been smelling that a lot lately.”
He chuckled and said, “I don’t envy your situation.”
You would also enjoy, An Open Letter To My Newborn
Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times Motherlode, Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley