Marijuana rights activist forsakes Carroll Co. for downtown Baltimore

April 02, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Pamela Snowhite Davis fled the open fields of Carroll County to seek solace among open minds in downtown Baltimore.

"I had moved to Carroll County to be left alone," the self-proclaimed old hippie said a few days ago at her latest enterprise, Marijuana Mama's Baltimore Hemporium, which opens today on West Read Street. "I don't feel threatened in the city. I don't."

For Davis -- entrepreneur, marijuana rights activist, convicted felon -- the move from Terrapin Station, her 54-acre Silver Run farm, to a third-floor walk-up on Park Avenue has been liberating.

"When I get close to it, I can feel the evil," she says of Carroll County. "There's something evil out there."

"Out there" hasn't exactly been kind to Davis, a previously unknown Westminster businesswoman who became a marijuana rights activist shortly after the Carroll County Narcotics Task Force raided Terrapin Station two years ago.

Carrying a search warrant and wearing United Parcel Service uniforms, task force officers delivered a package addressed to the farm. When a woman at the farm signed for the package -- which contained 1.5 ounces of marijuana -- the bogus UPS men marched inside. They seized magazines, business records, bongs and, in Davis' night stand, about three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana.

Her son Kif climbed up on the roof and ate the 1.5 ounces the task force had delivered.

The raid led to her conviction on three of four charges, including maintaining a common nuisance, a felony.

Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., citing her "lack of remorse," imposed a two-year prison term, one of the harshest sentences ever in the county for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

Davis served 56 days in prison before an Anne Arundel Circuit judge freed her on an appeal bond last year.

She is awaiting a Court of Special Appeals' decision.

The experience turned Davis into an outspoken advocate for marijuana legalization, and she has used her businesses, the courts and the media to spread her message.

"It ain't over, honey," she says now, her gravelly voice less defiant but no less determined than it used to be.

Davis, 49, lost her Westminster counter-culture shop, Liberation, amid her criminal battles. Terrapin Station is for sale. Her son and daughter have moved across the country "to get away from Carroll County."

She intends to start over again at Marijuana Mama's, selling clothing made from marijuana and espousing political opinions of the 1960s.

"The drug war, and anybody who believes in it, is evil," Davis said. "Hemp is the strongest fiber on earth. Why not let us cultivate marijuana plants? I mean, who's going to smoke a 16-foot plant to get the same buzz as they are from two tokes on a joint?"

Marijuana Mama's -- a moniker borrowed from a Washington Post headline on a story about her -- fits nicely in the 200 block of W. Read St. Her neighbors are a leather store, an alternative book store, a couple of bars and a host of boutiques -- a far cry from the Woolworth's and auto parts stores beside Liberation in Westminster.

As Davis talks, she hauls out hemp hats, hemp wallets and hemp vests.

She says that the hemp movement is catching on, and that her products are better for the environment and economy than clothes made of chemicals, paper from trees and plastics made of petroleum.

She freely admits her continued use of marijuana as a cure for her aches and pains.

Mostly, she talks about being away from Carroll County, its judges and its drug task force.

"I'd prefer if I never had to hear the words Carroll County again," she said later, her 90-pound frame swallowed by a big yellow sweater and a director's chair. "It's a county full of really wonderful people. They're just spineless, and that's too bad."

Not everyone in Carroll County is sorry to see her leave.

"If she's not willing to live by the community standards in Carroll County, then it's wise for her to live somewhere else," said Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown. "I think we're better off without someone who's proselytizing about drugs."

Prosecutor Barton F. Walker III, the task force coordinator, wondered what refreshments Davis would serve on her "hemporium's" first day.

"We should go down there for the grand opening," he joked. "Really, I'm not going to run down there and check her out. Carroll County is better off without people who break the law or demean the community."

Marijuana Mama's opens amid Davis' uncertain future.

She could go back to prison for another year.

"I keep thinking that the appellate court will have sent me to prison for the rest of my life," she says, insisting that going back behind bars would be fatal for her.

"Then, in a real twist of irony . . . Bart Walker and Judge Beck will come down here and run the store for me while I'm gone."

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