Here's My Marijuana Card, Officer

In the capital of legal pot, you don't need much of an excuse

It is not that Mel Brown, police chief of this tie-dye-and-tofu town, set out to flout federal law. But here he is, a 53-year-old father of two who has never inhaled, issuing laminated and embossed get-out-of-jail-free cards for partakers of the infamous Humboldt bud, a potent local variety of marijuana. "You can photograph me," he tells a reporter genially, "but not reclining on a bearskin rug and smoking a joint."

Arcata (pop. 16,000) lies in the heart of the Emerald Triangle, the three lush California counties of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity, 275 miles north of San Francisco as the spotted...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!