By Allen St. Pierre
I’m sorry to read of this near conclusion of your run-in with cannabis prohibition laws in SD. Like you, I’d hope to see a suspended sentence, or a lower sentence all together.
With 98% of all criminal cases being plea bargained, I’m sure this Hobson’s Choice was a difficult one to make.
Being banned from public advocacy regarding something you–and clearly tens of millions of other Americans agree should be discussed publicly–maybe the cruelest cut of all. One that I suspect is ironically going to draw more attention/media awareness to your ‘run-of-the-mill’ cannabis bust than any cannabis possession case in your state’s history (if it has not already).
You may have to remain mum about marijuana advocacy (for a year), but groups like NORML never will, and where your voice has been temporarily silenced by a system (i.e., the mechanisms of cannabis prohibition) no longer worthy of public respect in America (and South Dakota), know full well that hundreds of thousands of your like-minded friends and fellow cannabis consumers will be LOUDLY protesting the continuation of cannabis prohibition from the halls of Congress, to Statehouses across the country, to the streets and parks in protest of both a failed public policy—and against any government or court mandates that seek criminal sanctions against citizens who disagree with prohibition laws, and will not allow them to share their views with the general public.
When a simple cannabis arrest turns into government restrictions on protected First Amendment speech and right of assembly, cannabis consumers and concerned citizens need to re-double their efforts to end our country’s expensive and destructive cannabis prohibition laws.
Godspeed Bob! Please remain in touch with NORML!!
-Allen St. Pierre
On 7/6/09 9:40 PM, “Bob Newland” <[email protected]> wrote:
6 July 2009
This will be the last email I send under the banner ?’South Dakotans for Safe Access‘ at least for a year.
By now, most of you know I plead to a felony count of possession of marijuana in May. Today I was sentenced.
In an hour-long sentencing hearing, Judge Delaney waxed reminiscent as he described his admiration for Muhammad Ali’s stance against an illegal war, which cost him millions of dollars and his peak performing years, during which time he did not complain, nor did he leave the country that so abused him for his beliefs.
Then, citing the fact that he (Judge Delaney) had to account for his actions to the hundreds of kids he sees in juvenile court, he sentenced me to a year in the Penn. Co. jail, with all suspended but 45 days. During the suspended part of the sentence I will wear a bracelet that senses alcohol use and I will be subject to arbitrary piss tests by a probation officer to detect illegal “drug” use. In addition I may have no “public role” in cannabis law reform advocacy during that year.
Work release is an option, but I have few marketable skills, especially in a time when everyone else is getting laid off. I’ll follow any leads any of you might have.
It was somewhat harsher than I expected, and probably less than I deserved. At least it did not cost me a career worth millions, and my peak performing years won’t begin until July 6, 2010. And that’s about all I feel comfortable saying about it. For a year.
I’ll turn 61 in prison, doin’ six weeks for smokin’ a joint. Mama cried.
I will do my time beginning sometime in August. If I have a job of the conventional sort (you know, with a time to get there and a time to leave) I can get work release. So, if you have any ideas for me along those lines?…
Thanks again to all who sent letters to the judge, and to those who have sent messages of support to me.
For 40 years I have watched as dozens of people I know–and thousands I know of–go through this same, ummm?, procedure. Now it’s happening to me, and I feel the same frustration over the purposelessness of it all as I have felt for all those other people, many, many, many of whom were treated far more viciously than I.
Someday this war will be over.
So long for now,
For anything for which email is inadequate, contact sender at
24594 Chokecherry Ridge Rd
Hermosa SD 57744
By Allen St. Pierre