Friday, August 28, 2009

White Slacks Day

I woke up at three o clock this morning. I figured no point in going back to sleep. I was going to be spending the morning in court.

On Facebook a friend sent me a link to The Largest Street Gang in America. I couldn’t watch all of it.

And then I couldn’t get the right outfit, not without waking my housemate for the ironing board, and I eventually settled on a third tier compromise which involved white slacks. And I forgot to take postcards with me, even though I had about three hours to pack. And my hair was sticking up.

The phone rang at eight and I jumped into Bill’s car. The traffic was light, and we arrived fifteen minutes before anything could possibly happen. And then we did a sort of double mission to Starbucks.

I chatted with the lovely Pamela, while Bill’s lawyer, Stephen, interviewed Caren with respect to her testifying on Bill’s behalf. At ten fifteen we assembled in the courtroom.

Stephen asked us if we could accept a request to reconvene at 11:30, and we four ASA representatives left in search of second breakfast.

The atmosphere was far from tense, though I think Bill was considering the possibility of an adverse outcome. For myself I had seen enough of the proceedings to be confident in both the fairness of Judge B. and the quality of the case for medical marijuana use, as a mitigating factor in the sentence for marijuana possession. The freshness of the prosecuting attorney was another factor in our favor, as it happened, but I didn’t think of that while I was sticking a plastic fork into my scrambled eggs.

Tony showed up with a couple of huge yellow buttons that said “FIX MARYLAND’S MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW”, and I stuck one on the front of my blue shirt, before the four of us sat down, on the front row, for the proceedings.

Caren was first up to testify as to her knowledge of Bill, and she slipped in some good stuff about Bill being an activist and everything. And then, the prosecuting attorney gets to cross examine, and Caren had her for lunch. For real. The best the attorney could do was, “Are you a doctor?”, which was pretty lame. Score like five for the good guys.

And then Stephen challenged a whole bunch of the stuff the state was using for evidence and, as a result the Judge agreed that a whole bunch of stuff be redacted. (The jury said the cops were “testilying”).. And then a bunch of Bill’s property was returned to him.

And then Bill made a statement and took questions from both attorneys. Oh gosh, she made a half a hit with “Do you smoke cigarettes?” which Bill parried with, “I have, on occasion, yes”. Leaving her nowhere to go.

The judge was eloquent in his summation. Before delivering the all but inevitable finding for “medical necessity”, and thus a $100 fine, no probation, the Judge opined that the use of smoked marijuana, in preference to pills, when treating nausea, amounted to common sense.

With this case, Maryland struggles one tiny step closer to justice, sanity and basic human decency. That people with chronic medical conditions are subjected to being beaten up by the police, having that reported as “resisting arrest”, and then have to deal with the expense, and potentially adverse consequences of a jury trial, merely for treating themselves with a God-given healing herb, in the privacy of their own homes is an offense against everything a free person stands for.

We had a late lunch in a very nice Thai restaurant, and everybody was really happy and charged up for whatever.

I noticed, as we left the restaurant, that my white slacks had a sort of yellow coating down one side – looked like pollen, maybe. Something like that. Could have been there all day. (Thank heavens the Washington Post doesn’t have pictures).

There remains the possibility of an appeal. During the case the judge ruled medical marijuana defense inadmissible, except as a mitigating factor at sentencing. This ruling may be vulnerable on appeal, opening the door for patients in Maryland to present the case for medical marijuana to a jury. Having seen some of the relevant documents I dare say this particular ruling is very vulnerable. There are also other precedents that could be established.

Anybody got five thousand bucks?