Monday, December 13, 2010

You Are Right to Remain Silent: Just Shut Up

You Are Right to Remain Silent:
Just Shut Up
A Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Advice to Tokers

By Norm Kent
NORML Board of Directors

After 35 years of practicing law in the trenches of state and federal courts, I have narrowed my advice for all my clients down to one, simple, direct sentence: “Shut Up.”

No kidding. Really. Just shut up.

Living in Florida, I have come to love deep-sea fishing. Enter my law office, and on my walls, above my desk, staring and glaring at my clients, is a stuffed, six-foot steel blue Marlin. Below the fish is a plaque that reads: “Behold the beautiful, majestic Marlin. He would not be here if he had not opened his mouth.”

When you are a 7-year-old kid growing up, and your mom catches you with your hand in the cookie jar, you inevitably and sheepishly try to come with an excuse. Mom pushes and prods you to confess, and you do. She then hugs and kisses you, and you make up as she tells you everything is going to be all right.

It does not work that way with a cop when he pulls you over. The police are not your parents. The sheepish lie you first tell him becomes a prior inconsistent statement that is going to be used in a court of law against you. The cop does not hug you, kiss you, and make up. He searches you, arrests you, and locks you up. So what you should do is just shut up.

Do not bargain with cops, negotiate with cops, or promise deals you cannot deliver on. The promises they make on the street are not binding in the courts where prosecutors charge you. Deal with the reality that if you are caught with drugs you are now the prisoner of a drug war. In war, you are only required as a prisoner to give your name, rank, and dog tag number. Do not give consent to search your car, your person, or invite cops back to your home. Do a Nancy Reagan: just say no.

As my friend William Panzer says, an Oakland, California based criminal defense attorney, also on the NORML Board of Directors, "If everyone kept their mouth shut, half the people in jail would not be there. The cop’s job is to put you in a cage and anything you say beyond identifying yourself helps them put you there." His advice too: "Shut up."

My advice is that if you are carrying drugs, prepare yourself for jail. Don't carry lots of cash that will be forfeited to the State. Instead, keep dog bones in your car. This way, when police tell you they are going to keep you sitting in handcuffs by the side of the road- in the hot sun or cold wind- while they retrieve a canine to search your vehicle, you can offer the dog some treats when he arrives. In the meantime, shut the mouth up. This is not the time to bemoan your fate in front of the officer and reflect that you were only ‘doing a favor for a friend.’ The cop will not give you a bone. He will transcribe your confession.

I would be a liar if I told you that ‘shut the mouth up’ works in every single instance. If you are carrying a loose joint in a ‘decrim’ state and you own up to a cop, he may let you go with a reprimand. But let’s face it; if you are carrying felony weight cannabis, a couple of beans, or some crystal, you are headed to jail. The US Constitution does not say your job is to make the police and prosecution’s job easier by telling them how and where you got it. The US Constitution says your right is to remain silent. Use it; don’t lose it. Just Shut Up.

You may think you are already guilty. Far from it; you are not. If the state cannot prove it, it is not a crime. It is their job to prove the case above and beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not your job to tell them all the contraband is yours so their job becomes a snap while they snap handcuffs on you. So just shut the mouth up.

Show police your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration. Show them your McDonald’s discount Big Mac card if you must. But do not be a dope and show them your dope. Abraham Lincoln once wrote that many men are foolish but that some “speak and remove all doubt.” Be one of those that leave arresting officers with doubt. You might get rewards for confessing in a church. You do not in a courtroom or on the street to a cop. Just shut up.

The most recent and recurrent law enforcement technique being employed presently is the notorious ‘knock and talk’ on your front doorstep at your home. They are ‘trick or treating’ for an admission. Armed with anonymous and non-verifiable information that you are cultivating marijuana on your premises, cops ‘drop by’ for a chat, seeking your permission for a search.

They like to make it seem they are coming over for coffee, investigating a zoning violation, or looking for a lost cat. They are not. They are looking for you to let a cat out of the bag that you are growing at home. Think of it this way: if they had enough information to believe you were doing something illegal, they would not be there asking for permission. They would have already secured a warrant and smashed in your door.

In these situations, the officers have no valid basis to even be on your property, let alone a warrant to enter. You have no legal obligation to answer their questions. You most certainly do not have to invite them in. They tell you though they ‘know’ pot is there and it will go ‘so much easier on you’ if you cash in your stash. No, it won’t. You will go to jail when you did not have to. You will have foolishly waived a right you never should have given up. So just shut up, and show them the door.

Far too many times, and for too many years, I have watched young men and women get arrested while feeling some sort of moral obligation to simultaneously say to cops: “You got me!” I think it goes back to mom and the cookie jar. But guess what? You are not Dorothy, and we are not in Kansas anymore. So just shut up, because what you do not say cannot be used against you in a court of law. What you do not say may prevent you from being there in the first place.
G-Rated Version.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tim's Anniversary

This is the anniversary of the date World Series star and Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession in Washington State.

Washington State Patrol reported smelling marijuana when Lincecum initially rolled down the window, and upon inquiring about the smell Lincecum produced 3.3 grams and a pipe.

I guess life went on, and we all survived. He did not do too bad either.

The 26-year old Lincecum went to Liberty High School in Renton, WA just a few miles away from where he got popped.

He remained in the Pacific Northwest when he went on to play college ball at the University of Washington, and throughout the years.

His friend blogged about his arrest last year: "He didn't go all Andre Agassi on us and end up on some crystal meth, and Lincecum was not driving under the influence at the time. He was cited for going just 14 MPH over the posted 60 MPH speed limit.

The stretch of highway that he got pulled over in is a well-known spot for speed traps, because it is located just a few miles from the Oregon border where speed limit changes about every 20 yards.

Seriously, the speed limit is ridiculous.

It goes from 45 through Portland, then to 55, and back up to 60 before it hits a cool 70 a few more miles north.

Regardless of the speeding or weed involved, Lincecum has no prior history of indiscretions and no tarnishes on his record up to this point, so can’t we just give him a break on this one?"
Tim did not win the Cy Young in 2010. He won something better, a World Series championship ring. And proof once again for all Americans that a joint here and there does not stop you from being a championship athlete.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Marijuana Legalization Stocks


Friday, October 29, 2010

On Tuesday, November 2, California residents will be voting on Proposition 19, the ballot measure that, if passed, would legalize limited quantities of marijuana for recreational use. This has created plenty of fodder for news reports.

The New York Times just reported on the marijuana related domain name land grab. UPI reported that a marijuana dispensary in San Francisco would give away free joints whenever the Giants hit a home run during the World Series.

And to top it off, The Wall Street Journal posted an editorial by billionaire investor George Soros, in which he says he supports the legalization of marijuana.

Unfortunately, most of the plays on legalization involve very low cap stocks, according to the list of 20 marijuana stocks at

However, for the medical use of marijuana and its derivatives, there are larger companies that produce such products as Marinol, a trademark of Solvay SA (SVYSF.PK) and Nabilone, marketed as Cesamet by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (VRX), which trades on the New York Stock Exchange. Nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, is used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, anorexia, and weight loss in AIDS patients.Valeant also markets Fluorouracil, a cancer treatment drug, and Diastat, a seizure drug. This $4.38 billion market cap stock trades at 30 times earnings, and pays a yield of 1.4%. Earnings for the latest reported quarter were up 41% year over year on a 23% increase in revenues. The company will have its next earnings announcement on November 4. Par Pharmaceutical Companies (PRX), a $1.14 billion market cap company markets Dronabinol, a form of Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. However, this is a small part of the business as the company markets dozens of other drugs. The stock has a PE ratio of 13.9 and trades at one times sales. Earnings will be reported November 3. GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPRF.PK) produces Sativex, an oral spray with tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis patients, and also for treating pain in cancer patients. Earnings for the quarter ending March 31 were negative. The company will be reporting earnings on November 23. To see the complete free list of twenty marijuana stocks, which shows the symbol, PE ratio, price sales ratio, yield, market capitalization, and business description, go to Disclosure: Author didn't own any of the above stocks at the time the article was written.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Comedian’s Video Supports Pro Pot Legalization Drive

Miami Beach, FL (Oct 26th, 2010) Last week, comedian Steve Berke launched an online political campaign in support of Proposition 19 in California with the recent release of his latest music video, "Should Be Legalized", a political commentary on Eminem's music video "Love The Way You Lie."

The campaign, supported by NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) was generating huge internet buzz, and had amassed 108,000 views within 2 days, when YouTube flagged it for being offensive, thus requiring users to login to view the video, killing the video's chance at becoming viral. "We were on pace to reach 1 million views within a week, and our video was rallying supporters of Prop 19 and decriminalization in every state that had it on the ballot. Then YouTube flagged us for being offensive and killed any chance we had at reaching our potential audience. Their censorship of this video is similar to the Internet censorship that takes place in repressive countries like North Korea and China.
"YouTube failed to give any reason to Berke for flagging the video and it is presently inaccessible to the vast majority of worldwide. “The flagging system does not have a system of recourse and re-review,” stated Berke.Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent, on the Board of Directors at NORML, is among those who are outraged.
"We will not let YouTube squash a vibrant political campaign the week before the historic November 2nd elections. Videos of rapper Snoop Dogg smoking marijuana are not flagged as offensive, but a song that merely names him as a marijuana user is? YouTube is effectively freezing a viral political movement as it gains momentum in time for a critical vote. They must remove the flag. If they do not, we will pursue the matter further until they do.”
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre adds, "YouTube’s building a wall around Steve Berke’s video makes no sense in light of dozens of other videos that depict normal cannabis use. YouTube, whether it means to or not, is stifling legitimate political discourse regarding an important initiative vote in California next week that seeks to legalize and tax cannabis.”"I just don't understand it," said Berke. "People smoking marijuana in videos on YouTube go unflagged, but our video, that involves actors merely pretending to smoke marijuana as political satire, is flagged immediately."
“In Eminem’s video, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, sexual assault, arson and murder are all prevalent and the video is not censored in any way. In fact, YouTube runs ads against it, not only profiting off the video, but also making it viewable to all ages at all times,” Berke added.
The link to Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie" is
The link to Berke's "Should Be Legalized" is

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Guest Blog: Free Marc Emery

Canadian businessman and law reform activist Marc Emery is a political prisoner of America’s federal government. Arrested in 2005 for selling high quality cannabis seeds to willing American cannabis consumers and medical patients, he now sits in a federal prison in Washington state costing taxpayer’s thousands of dollars per month, while at the same depriving Canada of an otherwise lawful and tax-generating businessman, and Marc’s family and friends of his presence in their lives.

Below is a request from Marc’s lawyer and cannabis law reformer Kirk Tousaw to help raise $8,500 to retain an expert in treaty transfers between Canada and the United States so that Marc can serve the reminder of the time he must be in the criminal justice system back in Canada.

Please join NORML in supporting this effort to help expedite the day Marc can return to Canada, his wife, businesses, (primarily Cannabis Culture Magazine) and to his full-throated advocacy for cannabis legalization in Canada.

An American prison is no place for Marc.

I think most every cannabis law reform activist in the US feels guilty that our government decided—if only for pathetically symbolic reasons, like the persecution by the feds of Tommy Chong for selling bongs a few years earlier—to arrest, persecute, extradite and incarcerate Marc for what is effectively legal these days in medical cannabis states like California, New Mexico, Colorado, Rhode Island, Montana and Maine.

Please read the info below from Kirk on how we can all help Marc out.

Thanks in advance and kind regards!

I write on behalf of Marc Emery, recently sentenced to five years in prison for selling cannabis seeds as part of his effort to “overgrow the government” and provide funding to the marijuana legalization movement. Marc made millions in this highly successful campaign and gave every dime away to activist causes and groups. When arrested in 2005, he had only $11.00 in his bank account. And now he needs our help more than ever.

As part of our effort to have Marc repatriated to Canada, he hopes to hire US lawyer Sylvia Royce, an expert in treaty transfers between the United States and Canada. Ms. Royce will handle the US side of the process while I will continue to assist Marc with the Canadian undertaking.

In order to retain Ms. Royce, Marc needs to raise $8,500.00, and he needs to do it by the end of October. We are hoping to do it in one day with a Free Marc Emery Money Bomb on October 16, 2010. A money bomb is a one-day fundraising effort designed to achieve a specific goal. In this case, it is raising enough money to hire Ms. Royce. Any extra funds will go toward future legal fees.

I know that you value Marc’s activism, dedication to our shared cause and sacrifice. Five years is a long time to be a political prisoner. Our profound hope is that he can at least serve that time in Canada, near his family, friends and loving wife, Jodie Emery.

I’m asking you to be a part of this Money Bomb in the following ways. First, consider making a donation from your organization. Second, publicize the Money Bomb to your membership through posting on your website and distribution through your email network

With your help, I know that we can achieve our goal of raising $8,500.00 on October 16, 2010. If you are willing to donate, your commitment to do so will be recorded and announced on the day of the Money Bomb.

Thank you.
Kirk TousawExecutive DirectorBeyond Prohibition Foundation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Time to Get Mad as Hell

Gay suicides, gay bullying, and anti gay preachers make the airwaves while gangs brutalize and attack gay teens and gay bars. And gays respond with cocktail parties? It is time for a new breed of leaders willing to stand up and take the reigns. Here is what one guy said years ago, and he was right then, and is right now.
The original “Mad Prophet of the Airwaves” from the 1976 movie Network:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore.

We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being, God damn it! My life has value!”

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:


Peter Finch (who played Howard Beale) died of a heart attack shortly after appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to promote Network. I remember watching the show that night, then reading Finch’s obituary in the paper the next day.

Peter Finch was posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Howard Beale.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Face Book Opens it Wallet

California's ballot measure to legalize marijuana has a new friend: Facebook co-founder Sean Parker has given $100,000 to back the proposal.

Parker's donation was reported in Proposition 19 campaign finance filings this week.
If NORML or other pot supportive organizations can move from begging for dollars at marijuana festivals to gaining supportive incentives from corporate America, we could reach further so much quicker. We have America on our side. We just need to get out the message. That takes some money, and invites your help.

Parker is not the first big Proposition 19 donor with ties to the social networking site. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz has made two donations totalling $70,000, including a $50,000 contribution last month.

Neither Parker nor Moskovitz are still with Palo Alto-based Facebook, but both still have ownership stakes. Recent estimates put the value of the privately held company as high as $33.7 billion.

"What's interesting here is that (Parker) is a member of the generation that really gets it," said Stephen Gutwillig, a spokesman for the Drug Policy Alliance, the main beneficiary of Parker's contribution. "We think he's pivotal to the future of drug policy reform in the country."

The 30-year-old served as Facebook's first president and helped transform the company from dorm-room project to big business. Parker and Moskovitz have become household names since the recent release of "The Social Network."
The film chronicling the contentious origins of Facebook was No. 1 at the box office last week
Asked for a comment as to why he’s backing the legalization of marijuana, Moskovitz just sent this statement:

“More than any other initiative out there, Prop 19 will stabilize our national security and bolster our state economy. It will alleviate unnecessary overcrowding of non-violent offenders in our state jails, which in turn will help California residents.”

Moskovitz made his debut on Forbes list of 400 Richest Americans last month thanks to his 6% stake in Facebook, the social networking site he helped co-found.

He has since left Facebook and now runs a startup called Asana, backed by several of Facebook’s earliest founders.
Twenty five years ago, NORML used to get donations from the Playboy Mansion to help launch our effort for marijuana legalization. Playboy represented cutting edge journalism for the modern male, much as the way Facebook does represent cutting edge communication for the networking American. It looks like time is catching up to our movement. It's about time, too.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Renowned Marijuana Activist Passes Away- LA Times Report

John Hoeffel
LA Times
courtesy of

Jack Herer, an energetic advocate for marijuana legalization who was a mesmerizing presence on the Venice Boardwalk and achieved worldwide renown after he wrote a treatise extolling the virtues of hemp, died April 15. He was 70.
Herer suffered a debilitating heart attack in September, minutes after he delivered a typically pugnacious pro-pot speech at the Hempstalk festival in Portland, Ore., insisting that marijuana ought to be smoked morning, noon and night. "You've got to be out of your mind not to smoke dope," shouted Herer, dressed in a green short-sleeved shirt and shorts made from hemp. "It is the best thing the world has ever had."He never recovered and died at home in Eugene on tax day.
"Dad has not filed taxes in over 30 years, so it was wonderful he died on tax day, it really was," said his son Mark Herer, who is the president of The Third Eye, the family's smoke shop and hippie wares store in Portland.Herer researched and wrote an exuberant book that became the bible of the movement to legalize hemp, a non-psychoactive strain of marijuana. "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," which was first published in 1985, has sold more than 700,000 copies. In it, Herer wields extensive documentation to ridicule the government's ban on hemp cultivation and to highlight the plant's versatility as paper, fiber, fuel, food and medicine.
The book made Herer into one of the most recognizable figures in the marijuana movement and converted him into a pop icon memorialized by a strain of cannabis. For decades, Herer, known as the Emperor of Hemp or the Hemperor, crisscrossed the country, rhapsodizing about the wonders of weed.Bruce Margolin, one of L.A.'s best-known marijuana defense lawyers, recalls that Herer was always trying to teach people about hemp. "At that time I was ignorant of it like everyone else," he said. "He educated me and many, many other people through his book and his lectures."
Herer was born June 18, 1939, in New York City, the youngest of three children, and served in Korea as an Army military police officer. He discovered his mission in Los Angeles after he moved to the city in 1967 with his wife and three sons to work at a neon sign company. He tried marijuana two years later and quickly became engrossed in learning about it. "He was always a very curious person about everything. He read everything he got his hands on," said Vera Donato, who was married to Herer from 1960 to 1969.
In the early 1970s, he wrote "G.R.A.S.S.," which stood for "Great Revolutionary American Standard System." It promoted a 1-to-10 scale for grading marijuana. He also began to invent drug paraphernalia.In 1973, he launched a relentless effort to legalize marijuana in California, working year after year on initiatives that failed, often in league with Ed Adair, a head shop owner who died two decades ago.
In 1980, the two became co-commanders of Reefer Raiders and set up camp on the lawn of the federal building in Westwood, openly smoking joints for the media. A year later, they pushed their own measure.Herer opened a head shop in Van Nuys called High Country and recruited other owners to help fund his initiatives.
In 1983, he ran afoul of a new state law that made it a misdemeanor to sell devices to use with illegal drugs. Police confiscated more than 6,000 items in two raids. Three years later, Herer was convicted and ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and serve two years' probation.In the 1980s, he could frequently be found at an information booth on the Venice Boardwalk, a gregarious man who showed obvious pleasure in trying to persuade skeptics.
"I think the thing that motivated him the most was his love and respect for planet Earth and that he was a kind and good-hearted person just naturally," said Jerry Rubin, a fellow activist who was often stationed nearby. "He was doing a consciousness-raising lifetime exercise."Herer researched "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" for years, scouring the archives of the Library of Congress for evidence that he believed the government suppressed when marijuana was outlawed in 1937.
The book, updated many times, sparked a hemp resurgence, and he became a circuit-riding preacher. In 1990, Herer addressed 60 rallies in 48 places in one six-week stint.At 6 feet and 230 pounds, with unkempt hair and a bushy beard, Herer was an imposing, but not intimidating figure, a bearish counterculture holdout who was often found in tie-dyed shorts and a T-shirt with a pot leaf overlaid on an American flag on the front and a history of hemp on the back.
Herer had a heart attack and stroke at a hemp festival in 2000. He boasted that his rehabilitation was aided by cannabis oil. When he concluded his last speech, he said, "Come over to my booth, over there, and I will see you next time.""He didn't write the script, but you couldn't write it better," Mark Herer said. "Dad has a speech, the crowd cheers and he walks off into the sunset."

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times