On January 21, 1999, a group of armed criminals invaded my home, determined to find evidence that would implicate me and Libertarian Party candidate for governor Steve Kubby in a non-existent marijuana conspiracy.
While doing research and photography for my article on Kubby (CC #18), I visited his Californian mountain home while he was under surveillance. Police came to my house two days after they arrested him and his wife for medical marijuana. They arrested me for two ounces of medical marijuana stored in my freezer. They also arrested me for having six small cacti, called faux peyote, that were on my patio.
Like many cacti, these marginally resemble real peyote- a plant that carries with it automatic felony charges in California.
For the next four months, I fought for my life. Charged with crimes that would send me to prison for four years, threatened by police and prosecutors, I had to decide early on how I would handle this latest indignity- I had been arrested for growing pot in 1994, and pled guilty rather than fight the charges.
This time was different. I was innocent, I was indignant, I was ready to take on the dim-witted, fascist kids (24-year-old sheriffs with detectives badges) who invaded my home, laughed at my medical condition, stole my medicine and journalistic materials, falsified evidence, trumped up false charges, plunged me into a hell of depression, physical pain, and legal expenses.
I fought hard, and on May 24th all state charges against me were dismissed. Later, a federal charge was also dismissed. I am a free man, and am now mounting legal actions against the police, demanding return of my marijuana, planning a lawsuit if my requests for compensation are not honored.
I appreciate the Cannabis Culture readers who sent encouraging letters or donations. To give something back to you, and to help everyone fighting against this unholy drug war, I want to briefly explain how I won, and what it means: ?
*BE AS INNOCENT AS POSSIBLE- Its hard to be innocent when the government criminalizes harmless, personal behavior. Even though I love to grow and have pot, I gave up growing in 1994. I only possess small amounts of dried marijuana, comply with Prop. 215, Californias medical pot law, and am an otherwise law-abiding citizen. If I had been growing more than two or three plants, or if I had scales, weighed baggies of pot, or other evidence of sales, Id be writing this article from prison.
*FIND AN HONEST LAWYER- I was assigned a public defender. It took me several weeks to get a ten-minute meeting with him. He told me to plea bargain: Pack your bags, youre going to prison. I fired him, and became my own lawyer. I studied law books. I consulted Dale Rasmussen, a caring attorney who advised me how to represent myself. Find a skilled lawyer with a record of success whos fired up about beating the drug warriors, or represent yourself.
*TELL THE TRUTH: OFTEN- I had nothing to hide, so I repeatedly told newspapers, radio and television reporters, politicians, police and judges that I was an innocent man being persecuted by Nazi idiots. I confronted the cops who arrested me, when I saw them infiltrating a cannabis rally, and ran them out of the park where the rally was held. When you are innocent, you have tremendous power. When you stand up to bullies, they back down.
*KNOW YOUR ALLIES AND ENEMIES- After my arrest, I found out that many of the people Ive worked for and helped in the pot and hemp industries were wimps or traitors. ?Good luck man, but now that youve been arrested, don?t call me.? Its all good. But I also found real friends, sometimes with surprise: people Id never met before called or emailed, helped me with kind words and kind bud. Thank you for helping save my life.
*PRACTICE TOUGH LOVE- Its hard not to be consumed by anger and fear when youre aware of oppression, betrayal, injustice. Its hard to forgive people who are so wrong, so cruel, so harmful to society and individuals. I struggled with rage, fright, and depression, finally settling on a philosophy of tough love: The drug war is wrong, and the people who wage it are criminals who need to repent, but Im going to keep on hoping they will change their evil ways. And if they do, I will be their friend.
I hope that none of you will ever be brutalized by government, but it happens. I am a partially-disabled older man, not the strongest or smartest, for sure. But I won total exoneration. If youre fighting for marijuana, for the earth, for social justice, you are powerful indeed.
I won, and you can too.