Greetings in the Name of Haile Selassie I,
As you probably know, I have been facing criminal charges for quite some time. My feeling about the situation is this: I am being charged for being the president of the board of Sacred Truth Mission, a church which recognizes the Holy Cannabis plant as sacrament.
This all started with an intrusion on church property that happened on February 15, 2007. The intruders claimed to be police but showed no identification to Christopher Carpenter, who was the only member present when they barged into our Sacred Sanctuary. He called me, and I called 911, because calling 911 is what you’re supposed to do when you’re being trespassed upon. I headed to the church, but the 911 officer got there first.
The intruders turned out to be infamous rogue cop John Weber and his cronies, who showed identification after being confronted by the 911 officer. John Weber and crew searched the property, arrested me, got a search warrant, gathered evidence and trashed the church. In that order. Six months later, on the testimony of John Weber, I was indicted for commercial promotion of marijuana, paraphernalia, and possession. The claims were enormously inflated, of course, and carry huge penalties. The sentence for “commercial promotion of marijuana” is 20 years in prison.
In the four and a half years since the raid, quite a number of rights that I had been taught to believe I am entitled to as an American citizen have been violated. From the Bill of Rights, the 1st–the right to my religious practice and free speech and freedom of assembly, 2nd–the right to bear arms (although this one is moot for me personally); 4th–the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, 5th–the right to due process of law; 6th–the right to speedy trial and to confront witnesses, 8th–the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, 9th–inalienable rights; and 10th–the rights retained by the people; have all been violated during the pre-trial process.
I believe that the judicial system is terribly broken. The drug war has overburdened the legal system with unenforceable and often immoral regulations. These laws, although a scourge to society, have created whole industries–private prisons, drug testing laboratories, private probation and counseling services. For example, there were 859,000 some odd marijuana arrests in 2009. Each arrest carries with it untold pain–for those arrested, their families and their communities. The lawyers – judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and civil forfeiture specialists -make about 24 billion dollars every year from that carnage. Due to the huge numbers of humans who are arrested and charged under these laws, most cases end in plea bargains. The Government doesn’t play fair; they threaten defendants with the loss of their children and their land to force the bargains upon them. Most people who accept plea bargains later regret it, but they accept the bargains out of love for their children or their land.
I have been offered a plea bargain as well. The offer given to me is this: No jail and no probation; I would plead “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge and pay $1000; the plea would be deferred, so that I could appeal the Constitutional issues. It’s really a sweet deal, as they go. I almost took it. The thing that stopped me is this: I am not guilty. And the unfair methods that are used on most defendants don’t apply to me. My children are grown and I do not own land. So I turned it down.
From the beginning of this endeavor, the only part of the judicial system that I have had faith in is a jury of twelve of my peers. Now we will find out if my faith is well-placed.
After months and YEARS of delay, it is finally happening.
My jury trial begins MONDAY at 8:30 am. We will have a prayer outside the courtroom at about 8:20.
I believe that the more light on this trial, the better. Cannabis cases rarely get this far; most people succumb to the pressure far before this point. I’m scared, but I’m going forward. Please find it in your heart to help by attending, if possible, or by sending your thoughts and prayers if you cannot be there in person.
The photo of Martin Luther King was not near any plants or other “contraband” They just smashed it because they wanted to, and left it hanging. I got this picture at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated.