In 2003-2004, Njweedman and myself were arrested several times in acts of civil disobedience where we smoked a joint in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. We thought we’d only need to get arrested one time and after that we’d get a court date, but they knew our defense and didn’t seem to want to open up that can of worms, so we had to go back seven times before we finally got our court date.
We were testing out two theories. First, what would happen if a black man and a white man were arrested for the same exact thing, at the same exact time, would we be treated equally? The second is whether or not the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act, would protect us from a cannabis prosecution.
The first two times we were arrested they never searched me, yet Njweedman was forced to undergo invasive searches. Weedman had a surprise under his jacket though, because whe the cop asked him to remove it. It exposed a shirt with a massive middle finger. Weedman proceeded to give the double bird to the cop, who said that he could arrest Weedman for a disorderly persons charge. Michael Coard, who was our attorney and who calls himself the angriest black man in America, was standing right there and told the cop that Weedman could give him the finger, where the shirt, or say fuck you whenever he’d like. It was fucking priceless!
The third time we were arrested I finally got searched, but that’s only because I reminded them to, so they complied. We lost in magistrate court, where the Judge hit Weedman with twice the sentence as myself even though we had done the same exact activity. When Weedman asked the judge “why?”, the Judge responded by saying “You know why”, which just left us confused.
Weedman was sentenced to one year probation with a one year jail sentence if he violated his conditions of probation. I was sentenced to one year probation with a six month jail sentence if I violated my probation, which I did by peeing hot as a volcano all three months that we on probation. We were also ordered to never step foot on the federal property where the Liberty Bell sits.
We filed an appeal along with a stay of sentence, which was granted after three months on probation. The court left our case sit in limbo but finally made a ruling that remanded the case back to the magistrate court and found that several terms of our probation violated our religious beliefs.
The Judge ruled that since no where in the Rastafarian religion did it specifically say that we needed to smoke cannabis at the liberty bell, which is fucking ridiculous, that the federal law against cannabis possession did not prohibit us from using it in “our houses, houses of worship, or any other non federal location”. The case was sent back to the lower courts for further proceedings, but that Judge never touched it and just let us have our victory.
I moved to California where I opened several dispensaries, all being under the guise of a religious institution. After a couple of years Weedman followed me and we opened several more together, all being religious institutions. Between the two of us we were raided by the DEA 5 times, and had many other interactions with them and LAPD, but never did they arrest us for cannabis charges even though we were seeing hundreds of people everyday between the locations. When I had my son around 2010, I decided the raids and helicopters following me were not worth it, so I hung up my hat in the biz and came back to dirty jersey.
I say this because NJ is still in it’s infantile stages of “legalization”, which is not anything close to true legalization if people can’t grow their own herb and will be jailed for a decade for growing a plant. So, I think it is high time that people begin forming their own churches where they can have collective growing operations so people can have affordable access to quality cannabis. This boof they are selling for $65 plus heavy tax cannot be our only choice. How do poor and middle class people afford this without giving up some of their necessities?
Forming a church is easy and there isn’t any paperwork you need except the one that sits next to the Liberty Bell that says that government can create no laws that infringes upon your religious rights, our Constitution. If you want to file with the state and feds, you can, but you do not need to. The only non-profit institutions that do not need to file a 501c to be tax exempt is a religious institution, it says it right in the tax code. If you do file a 501c it gives you the ability to allow your donors to write off their donations, something that can’t be done without filing, but that’s your preference.
This defense also pertains to dispensaries, lounges, delivery services and possession charges. You do not have to read far in the Bible to find out that “God has given every seed bearing plant on Earth to GROW and USE”, only I prefer my herb without any seeds!
Weedman blows smoke in cops face.