On a recent Late Night with Seth Meyers, journalist Chris Hayes spoke about the time he brought a small amount of marijuana into the Republican National Convention in 2000, and was certain he’d get thrown in jail when a policeman found it.
Hayes was on the Late Night show to talk about his new book “A Colony in a Nation,” which he said was partly inspired by getting caught by a police officer and then subsequently being let go because the officer determined that he wasn’t a danger.
“We go through one checkpoint, and I think, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve got $30 worth of weed in an eyeglass case,’” Hayes says, “I didn’t normally carry around weed, but I happened to be at this moment.”
Panicked, Hayes turned to his future father-in-law (and Chicago journalist), Andy Shaw looking for help; only to be surprised by the officer allowing him into the event.
“I say, ‘Uh Andy, the police just found weed in my bag,’” Hayes recounted, “And he was like, ‘Why would you bring weed to the convention?’ At that very moment, they said, ‘Sir, is this your bag?’ I’m positive I’m going to grab it and get handcuffed — and I take it, and I go in the building.”
It was at this point that Hayes pointed out that as a white man, he’s entitled to certain privileges that would not be extended to men of color.
“I can tell you as sure as I am sitting here before you that if I was a black kid with cornrows instead of a white kid with glasses, my a** would’ve been in a squad car faster than you can say George W. Bush,” Hayes said.
To put his reaction in perspective, currently, possession of marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania, and medical marijuana has only been allowed since 2016, and exclusively for severe/debilitating conditions. The 2000 Republican National Convention was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at a time when marijuana was viewed as ‘the most widely available and commonly abused drug in Pennsylvania’; certainly not something any individual would want to be caught with no matter what convention they were going to.