You Be The Judge

June 7, 2011

 

One thing really stands out in this long drawn out war on drugs.  And although it is not isolated to the war on drugs, it appears to be a tactic which is often used.  Its use un-levels the playing field.  It is shockingly simple, with devastating effects. It can be so devastating, yet it is surprisingly accepted as the way things are, with a shrug.  It is often questioned, but rarely, if ever, debated.  If questioned, it is only a small blurb, or a passing comment, which rarely solicits an argument, or a challenge.  The power it comes from is unquestionable.  The stress occurring when it is presented pushes it to the shadows.

It is like dust in the storm.  It blankets everything, yet gets only passing attention, however can have a massive damaging effect that suffocates everything.  And that is exactly what it does.  It suffocates. 

It suffocates the truth.  The blocking of RELEVANT, PERTINENT truth.  A decision which is granted to one person.  A judge.  If a person is presented with the choice to go to trial, the jury can be blocked from hearing ALL the truth before the trial ever starts.  And this is often the tipping point for an untold number of cases, of whether the defendant decides to go to trial, or instead accepts a plea bargain deal.  Many accept a plea, because they know they have been blocked from telling the truth.  The WHOLE truth. 

In the movies, when a defendant gets sworn in, we hear, "raise your right hand.  Do you agree to tell the truth?  The WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth?"  But in the movies they don't often show, the judge disallowing evidence.  When a person finds themselves in the court system, this is one of the first shocks an attorney has to reveal to his client. "The Judge ruled to not allow your medical condition as evidence."  Therefore the Defendant can't use the Truth, as their defense.

The control ultimately ends up in the hands of one person.  The JUDGE!  Forget the jury.  If a judge has disallowed pertinent evidence, it can be the difference between having dinner with your family, or sitting in a cage for years after losing everything you own. 

On top of that, in some jurisdictions judges aren't even elected.  They are appointed.  Which could present a whole other problem in itself, as appointed judges may have a tendency to rule with those who were responsible for the appointment, which is often the city or county.  So if the city or county police are trying a defendant, it would seem that an appointed judge would be more inclined to favor those responsible for placing him or her in his position of employment!  For instance the same county commission, mayor, attorney general, governor, or attorney general that may have set a mandate to be tough on marijuana, may have also appointed the judge who rules that not all your evidence, or truth, is worthy.   Not being able to tell the truth.  The whole truth.  And nothing but the truth, strips a defendant from stating all the facts surrounding their case, and proving their position. 

Not being able to tell the whole story has had a devastating effect on many lives.

It goes beyond prohibition of marijuana, cannabis, or hemp.  And it has likely been a major contributing factor in locking up many, in the drug war, and beyond.  Without the whole story, how can the real truth come out?  And especially with marijuana, which has suffered a false story for so many years, by  attacks of outright false and wild claims from the initial days of prohibition and reefer madness through today.  Many Americans still don't know that marijuana IS medicine, that goes beyond just treating appetite, nausea, and sleep.  That it balances the endocannabinoid system.  That it has been shown to kill cancer cells.  And the list of benefits goes on, and on. 

 Denver, CO, 2010, in  a medical marijuana state, Chris Bartkowicz, a medical marijuana patient, and caregiver, was raided by the DEA.  When he appeared before the federal judge in a hearing to help determine what course of action he and his lawyer would take, the judge made it clear that he would NOT allow testimony or any evidence that Bartkowicz was a medical marijuana patient who paid his fees to the state of Colorado, and was following all the state of Colorado guidelines in effect at the time he was raided.  Bartkowicz had the choice of choosing to go to trial without the ability to provide ALL the evidence, without being able to tell the whole truth,  and therefore increasing his chances of losing at trial, which could result in a sentence of up to 30 yrs. in prison, or he could accept a plea deal of 5 yrs in prison.  Those choices were presented to him with the fact that he was NOT allowed to provide his whole story.  His truth. The whole truth that pertained directly to his case.  The truth that surrounded and encompassed his case.  He was not allowed to provide that truth.  It's not as though this truth was information from 10 years previous,  or something that had no relevance.  It was relevant.  It did pertain to the case.  Yet ONE judge disallowed that truth. 

April of 2011, in Florida, a state with no medical marijuana laws, (with some of the toughest anti-drug laws on the books) arrested and charged Jeffrey Kennedy for growing marijuana for medical reasons.  Kennedy suffers from chronic pain caused by a botched back surgery. His legs burn and twitch constantly. Doctors have prescribed him a cocktail of highly addictive and dangerous pain killers, in a state known for pill mills, where highly addictive dangerously toxic, Oxycontin is as easy to get as candy.  The judge ruled to allow medical testimony, again, in a state with no medical marijuana laws.  The state immediately dropped the charges. 

And even more recently, on May 5th, 2011, husband and wife, Dale Shaefer and Marion "Mollie" Fry turned themselves in to serve a 5 year prison sentence.  They were growing marijuana as outlined under California State law.  Mr. Shaefer is a Lawyer, who suffers from a blood disorder and a failed back,  and Mrs. Fry is a Doctor, and a cancer survivor.  The trial and appeals lasted 6 years.  Yet in 6 long years, the truth wasn't heard.  As Mollie Fry said,  "The judge wouldn’t allow any medical evidence. They wouldn't let us tell the jury I was sick, or that I was a doctor.  They wouldn’t allow that I was helping sick patients."  The judge also wouldn't allow the testimony of Elvy Musikka, who was waiting in the corridor to testify.  Elvy is a federal marijuana patient who receives her 300 cigarettes of marijuana from the federal government every month to treat her glaucoma. 

Here we have three cases in three different states.  The one time that medical testimony was allowed, the defendant walked away, and that state (Florida) has NO medical marijuana laws.  The two states (CO, and CA)  that resulted in 5 year prison sentences, both have medical marijuana laws, aimed to protect patients, and neither of the federal judges allowed medical testimony. 

 Yet the Federal Government has a patent assigned to the U.S. Department of Health #6630507, which indicates active compounds in marijuana to be very beneficial for medical use.  On top of that the Federal Government itself supplies medical marijuana to patients throughout the United States.  Those facts were also blocked from the trials of those convicted.  And even more recently the Federal Government (the DEA actually) has quietly and privately approved secret marijuana growers to grow for a pharmaceutical company that manufactures Marinol, a synthetic form of THC which is missing many of the beneficial attributes of the natural plant and which the majority of patients report is less effective and more psychoactive than the natural plant.   

If you are lucky enough to be in an area that allows you to vote for your judges, pay attention, and ask questions during campaign season to the men and women in robes.  They are often more important in this war on drugs, than the politicians everyone likes to point fingers at. 

Change starts with the truth. The whole truth.  And nothing but the truth.

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