Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Ay oh whey oh" Once More With Feeling

A wise man once said (and 'tis after all the season for wise men) that the three most important things in real estate are, "Location! Location! Location!". It has always eluded me why real estate folks think that is funny or why they think it is appropriate to poke fun at someone's speech impediment. Yet, time and again, it is proven to be true.

Here in the State of Jersey Gardens and 159,817 other shopping megalopolises at which to purchase your essential, must-have holiday goodies, it appears as if good fortune may be the residue of geography much more so than design. As we rapidly approach the end of the calendar's final full work week of 2009, John Ray Wilson of Franklin Township appears to be in need of his very own Festivus miracle. Mr. Wilson is on trial in the Superior Court in Somerville for a trio of drug offenses, the most serious being first-degree maintaining or operating a drug production facility. If convicted on that charge, he faces up to 20 years in prison. That Mr. Wilson sounds like a pretty bad dude, eh? Middlebush Village's very own Carlos Escobar perhaps? Apparently not.

Mr. Wilson is a 37 year-old gentleman who is (according to the newspaper) seriously ill with multiple sclerosis. Back in mid-August 2008, his ganja grove was uncovered by a National Guard Helicopter pilot, who reported the findings to the New Jersey State Police. If you are not familiar with the NJSP, let me assure you of one thing: they are not well-known for their laissez faire approach to life. The troopers on our State Police's Marijuana Eradication Squad (who knew we had such a thing?) did what they are duty-bound to do, which was to investigate the report. Upon searching Mr. Wilson's property they found a total of seventeen plants, including one that was six feet tall. Mr. Wilson was arrested and charged as noted above. This week he is on trial.

I do not pretend to know John Ray Wilson. I did note however the utter absence in the press accounts I read of him doing anything untoward with his stash other than consuming it himself to "alleviate" the effects of his multiple sclerosis. I also do not pretend to know what most of the symptoms of the disease are (although the doctor to English translation table I found here was most helpful) but I was able to understand enough of them to conclude that it seems like a pretty damn lousy disease with which to be saddled.

Yesterday Mr. Wilson testified - a little bit anyway - regarding why he was growing the plants. He told the jury that he is not a drug dealer (again, a claim that the State does not dispute) and that he was growing the pot to treat his MS. In New Jersey, regardless of whatever the Wilburys might have told you, everything is not necessarily legal so long as you do not get caught. Legally, we have nothing here called "medical marijuana". So, prior to the start of trial the trial judge ruled that Mr. Wilson could not rely upon a defense of "I was growing it to treat my MS". The law simply does not permit it. It might someday (it might in fact someday soon) but that is of no moment to Mr. Wilson's fate, which may very well be decided by day's end. As I understand it, Mr. Wilson was allowed to say what he said to the jury solely to challenge the credibility of certain testimony the Troopers who arrested Mr. Wilson and who seized his stash had provided.

Whether Mr. Wilson is acquitted by a panel of his fellow residents of Somerset County or convicted by them - and whether his medicinal/non-recreational use of grass (I feel like Dennis Hopper circa 1969 all of a sudden) is a factor in their decision remains to be determined. Similarly uncertain is the future of a new business in Red Bank. The merchants of West Front Street now have a little piece of paradise in their midst. A store named Tobacco Paradise (either an oxymoron or a reward populated by 72 oxygen-tank toting virgins) is now open for business. Among the featured attractions in this newly-found paradise? Hookah pipes.

Everyone old enough to walk the walk of the Pharaohs (OK, at least the '80's girl band variety) knows the task for which the hookah pipe is built to perform. Of course, in polite conversation we never, ever say it aloud right? Right. Refuting criticism that the store, on 16 West Front Street, promotes drug use, the owners placed signs throughout the store saying all products are for tobacco use only.

Snicker if you want but for the past several decades although located in an area of Boulder where its neighbors have changed as frequently as the weather, The Pipefitter (sorry, now it is called "The Fitter") has thrived. Even as the Pipefitter has tried to reshape its image, its psychedelic past has yet to completely fade away; it is consistently named "Best Pipe Shop" in Boulder Weekly's annual "Best of Boulder" issue.

The owner of Tobacco Paradise appears to have studied the Pipefitter's playbook. He cannot admit that he owns a head shop for he has an aversion to incarceration - for which I cannot find fault. Thus, he is left to proclaim really silly things such as his hookah pipes are not to be used for what you think they are supposed to be used for. He says it too often and he runs the risk of local law enforcement thinking he is using his own apparatuses to sample Mr. Wilson's wares in his supply closet.

Methinks the republic will survive whether hookahs become big business in Red Bank. I just wish I had the Visine distributorship at the convenience stores located near the area high schools. Not that anyone is supposed to use a hookah pipe to do...you know, "that".

Maybe I will drown my unfulfilled capitalist dreams in a pile of Duncan Hines brownies. Perhaps I will just drive on over to Dunkin Donuts instead.

On second thought - I think I will walk.

-AK

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