In Keene, NH, the trial of Rich Paul began today. He’s a noted marijuana activist facing up to 81 years for selling plant matter that approx. 1/3 of all Americans have consumed at one time or another in their lives. Statistically speaking it is likely that at least 4 of the jurors on his case have consumed marijuana at one time or another. Did this make the person they may have obtained it from a criminal that should be jailed for 81 years?
Paul was set up by the FBI, the New Hampshire State Drug Task Force and a “concerned citizen” (unsavory informant) in the spring of 2012 . Not surprisingly, the concerned citizen / informant was “cooperating” with law enforcement in order to reduce or eliminate his own pending drug charges. Of course “cooperating” can mean many things depending upon your point of view and how tight the vise gripping certain parts of your anatomy is being turned. To Paul’s credit, he chose the correct moral path and refused to “cooperate”. This is probably because he can discern that something legal isn’t always morally right and something illegal isn’t necessarily morally wrong.
As the trial approached Paul was offered a plea deal of “no jail time” if he would forego the trial. Which begs the question, If Rich Paul is such a dangerous “criminal” why would the state offer him a plea deal of no jail time? Perhaps it’s because the State is afraid that if principled people like Rich Paul continue to stand up and demand a trial, the State’s practice of putting people in jail for victimless crimes will come into question, as it should. Also, the State seems deathly afraid to risk the chance that ONE principled juror will recognize the courage it takes to stand up and maybe, just maybe see through the sham that is this ridiculous thing called “the war on drugs.” Not guilty. Two words that no juror can be ever be punished for saying. Two words conscientious jurors uttered to help end slavery in the United States and that hastened the end of the prohibition of alcohol. Two words that strengthen the concept that each and everyone of us, should own our own bodies.
Of course now that the trial has begun, the state will do everything it can to get a conviction. Should that happen, it raises another question of a more rhetorical nature. If just one day before this trial the state was willing to negotiate a plea that involved no jail time, they were essentially acknowledging what many of us already know. That Rich Paul doesn’t belong in jail and poses no threat to other people. However, by showing the courage to stand up Paul is a very real threat. Not to you or me mind you, but to those that make a living chasing people for behavior that involves a substance far less harmful than that which the State of New Hampshire sells, alcohol.
Courage isn’t always following arbitrary rules. That’s obedience. Blind obedience is what the State wants. Rich Paul needs at least ONE PRINCIPLED JUROR to show the kind of courage he has shown. One is all it takes.