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You always know that when there's a knock on the door maybe the police come in and they bust your door down and they do of you knowing they commit all kinds of atrocities. That have nothing to do with the so-called crime in the first place. You know our own rules of procedure in that are many times thrown out when you get in court of a time you get to court and posted a thousand dollar bond. You retain an attorney for four or five hundred hours you see and if you don't get to the right judges the judges who decide the merits of the case instead of what prosecutors and police tell them to do you can go on to trial you know you can be locked up. Toys. R Us started with.
A man you just heard speak is Johnson play. And if you were to ask him to describe himself in one word the word he would most likely choose is poet. He lives with a large number of people in a commune called trans love energies in Ann Arbor. The commune used to be located in Detroit but was recently moved to Ann Arbor because of what Johnson Clara says were unlivable conditions in Detroit. One of the factors that contributed toward making Detroit unlivable for the people of trans love was the relationship between the commune and the Detroit Police Department. Admittedly marijuana plays an important role in the lives of the people who live a trans love. And to say the least this situation placed them at constant odds with the police. Johnson Clare has been arrested three times for marijuana offenses and has served time in prison for possession of the drug. He is currently awaiting trial for the sale of marijuana
and if convicted of this charge he will receive a 20 year prison sentence. Want to. Get in a little. Mary Jane for. A series of six programs about marijuana produced by Brian Reuben for Michigan State University Radio today. Part two. The case of Johnson player. Johnson Jr. has achieved somewhat of a reputation as a poet and writer of jazz and rock criticism. He has also published and helped to publish a variety of newspapers and periodicals. The one activity that has made Sinclair more famous
and more notorious than all others however is his advocacy of marijuana. Like most people in the public eye Johnson Clare inspires a variety of opinions about himself to some people. He is a leader saw me as a man who enjoys his notoriety too much. A man with a martyr complex who takes great satisfaction in being the center of attention. Do others including members of the federal narcotics bureau and the Detroit Police Johnson Clare is something else entirely. Very plainly a menace to society. How does Johnson Claire envision himself as a crusader or as a man pressured into a public stance by outside forces. I would just assume just home and smoke some grass. Unfortunately the police activities in Detroit more or less accidentally 964.
And since then they've been very very concerned with marijuana is it pertains to white middle class dropouts. They didn't really know that it existed before then and in 1964 when I first came to Detroit I remember I knew everybody in this whole area a small grass. And so I didn't really know it. You know in those days you think you smoked marijuana and people weren't paranoid or people weren't really aware that it was against the war I mean it was like when you were a kid in a drink you know when you're under 21 I drank all the time when I was in high school and college until I was 21. And you never really worried about it. You know I mean you know I was it was always a joke the police would catch you or something like that but it was always like a $25 fine. They got arrested in 1964 by accident. WALLACE I got set up by an informer from Jackson who had been arrested by the police. This guy had to bust somebody
and he couldn't get any people in Jackson and I EVER and he knew me through a mutual friend. So he came down to Detroit and set up this whole thing got me to sell some marijuana and the police came on that started and then I got out of that one fairly easily with probation and no court scene or anything I said you know I was on probation I was just trying to stick stay out of the way and then I got busted again this far in 60 by that time it was reeling. Horse saying. To the police I mean invent the whole again. I was it. Home and they say this time they sent a undercover agent who bugged me for three weeks. To to get him some. No I didn't you know I was in the business of giving it to people who were selling it to people. And to this you know it was just a case of being singled out
and. Persecuted when they start going into people's homes and pressuring people and bugging and putting you know getting him to commit so-called crime something that they wouldn't otherwise do and. It's it's out of hand and so because of that and because I had spent six months in prison in 1066 as a result of the things 65 and I had a lot of time to think about it. And when I came out of prison things had changed there were just millions of you know our way marijuana use and climate change so much that it was just time to start doing some about the laws before people would just clam up and just try and stay out of their way and then I got busted again you see after a two month undercover deal where the guy allegedly got me to give him to a joint.
Actually I would you know it seems to me anything between aquatics blood would be. The Crusaders as you know another one I'd just as soon forget all about it cost a lot of money and a lot of energy that's just always a pressure on your back you know even if you are conscious of it. Even though he has been arrested on marijuana charges three times has served a six month jail sentence and currently faces 20 years imprisonment. Johnson Clare is not the least bit reticent when it comes to answering questions about his use of marijuana. You know it kind of seems like we have a new kind of living situation. It's very important because it's just such a. Relax and and. Smoother. But not in any sense like a tranquilizer is which which is out of touch with your senses of which you're more in touch with your senses.
And it reduces hostility it reduces impressions it reduces competitiveness. This is a physical effect of it. You know for example we were here in a commune with with 12 people and we were like when there isn't any grass in town for a few days it gets much tenser than the normal way because it's just the pressures that are on people living in cities and in 1968 are so great that's why they have such a hard time getting along with each other and. It's not as plentiful you know to a quote full time here so it's not as point of form as it was three or four years ago because there are so many other people who are smoking grass now and you have to you know you have to be supply. It is in fact is more plentiful for some of those people than it is for us. Some people have suggested that marijuana is used in different ways by different
groups of people and that there is a marked difference in the way the drug is used by an educated lower class people and by those with more education in the middle or upper classes. Sinclair agrees with this opinion. Its properties depend on the context in which is you to know. Ghetto people don't get high the same way that I get high and people I know because that's when I first started smoking grass it was a people that I got high with and the whole quality of the experience was very different and it was more a social logical experience and a pleasurable sensual experience. As you see it was getting away with something it was you know part of a criminal thing and it was getting high like drinking like getting drunk just getting high or taking me. People in that care.
Like To Get High anyway they can and they equate them all the same another with them taking barbiturates mild opiate like codeine smoking marijuana drinking wine whiskey and things like this or taking amphetamines and you know or question fed and dexedrine and Venza doing things like this. These are all the same often gets you know without very much differentiation between it. In January of 1967 the Detroit Police Department along with the federal narcotics bureau customs agents the state police and Food and Drug administration conducted a well publicized drug raid in the Wayne State University area of Detroit a page one banner headline in one of the Detroit newspapers reported that the raid had trapped 56 people in a marijuana LSD ring and that most of those arrested were Wayne State
students. As it later turned out however only four of those arrested went to Wayne State and charges were not made against a majority of the 56. Johnson Clair was one of the people arrested in that raid and charges were subsequently pressed against him as a result of that arrests and Clare was charged with the sale of marijuana. The alleged offense for which he is about to be tried is just ridiculous in terms of every citizen. They're done for the newspaper and television publicity. They make a big thing don't parade you know campus dope raid 56 arrested. Well that's all fine and people think well the police are fighting those dirty narcotics pushers and things like that. Well what happens is that 43 people you know as a case are 43 people arrested in the morning without charge and they were in fact illegally arrested harassed detained by the police and just
were just as any citizen on the street if a policeman came up and took him and held him overnight. So that's 43 have been 13 people are charged another 13. No one has got a jail sentence you know for example everyone who is everyone who has come to trial coming has this thing over with in a court and in terms of this case has gotten probation from one year to five years probation. No you say who has cost the taxpayers a lot of money a custom for undercover investigation for the huge police raid for all of that for maintaining these people on probation for having them go to court and it's just to fool people. You know if these people were actually dope fiends like this in the paper why aren't they put them in jail for 20 years you know. Why does this just go on to see why they released on probation. You know because a giveaway or a certain amount of money and the lawyer has connections and no why are they able to go in there if they're really
after him for sale of narcotics. Why don't they prosecute him for sale on narcotics sister saying OK look we'll let you plead guilty to addiction to marijuana and you can have that's a misdemeanor it won't be a felony and you see this whole thing is a crock. It's not right and you know it's really awful. You know the priest attitudes are just crazy they're just totally out of touch with with with reality they're self-interested in the first place you marijuana was made illegal they'd be out of a job. You know that's why you have an incredible increase in activity and raids and things like that now I feel as we take you know before long. You know the whole thing's going to be over with and they're just they're perverse enough and they're hostile enough they want to get these things in before you know what kind of work what kind of heinous crime is it that I can make if they have to have an undercover officer grow a beard in one here and coming into my home and come into our workshop help us hang
around do things like this just so he can finally after two months of this get a number of people who he's pestered and beat on noxious with you know get people to give him or sell him an in infinitesimal quantity of marijuana you know he didn't this undercover agent didn't make a purchase even over now. So I think the two waltzes you know which is negligible totally naked women and most of it involves getting someone to give him a few joints or something like this and that and there are you know subject to the you know it looks good in the papers. You know the prosecutor can say it in here well we had this many people we have this many people convicted on possession because they were charged with sale and they pleaded guilty to possession to get a probationary sentence on the books. We have this many narcotics arrests we've prosecuted this many narcotics offenders and it
is just corrupt and whether you see it. Judge George Crockett of Detroit recorder's court presided over Sinclair's pretrial hearing because of the issues raised by John Sinclair. Judge Crawford impaneled two other judges along with himself to hear the arguments and decide of Sinclair would have to stand trial. The arguments offered by Johnson Clare and the reasons the judges decided he would have to be tried are discussed by Judge Crockett. They defended and said that Michigan is regulation. Of narcotics so as to include marijuana. Denied to marijuana use is the equal protection of or in violation of the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution. His argument generally was that there's nothing in a more direct area about marijuana than there is about
alcohol for example and we don't impose their restrictions on the use and sale of alcohol that we impose on marijuana and therefore we're treating one category of our sort of summary altogether different RE from the treatment accorded the other. And that was a equal protection it was also I get that regulation of marijuana was a good now due process because the anticipated changes resulting in the use of marijuana were not such as to require. The drastic penalty as imposed by the legislature for the use and the sale and the possession of marijuana. And show us the regulation was not reasonable under the circumstances and to that extent was the due process. He further argued that certain areas embraced in the concept of liberty
where Americans are permitted to make their own choice if they want to hurt themselves they are at liberty to hurt themselves and to the extent that the legislature tries to prevent doing it the right just as my reading their right to privacy and to that extent is denying them liberty within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. And finally he argued that even if you assume that the legislature has the right to regulate and control the sale and distribution of marijuana. Now I last say Hamilton a mandatory penalty of 20 years imprisonment for sale is too drastic and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment which is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution and the comparable provision of our Michigan State Constitution.
Those were his arguments generally speaking the three judge has concluded that the question of regulating the sale marijuana had sufficient public interest and the use of marijuana I was so fresh and very serious to health. As to the exercise by the state. Of what is sometimes referred to as its police power in order to protect the health and well-being of the individual as well as society we reached this conclusion. Some of us had certain misgivings myself but I feel that there are convincing arguments on both sides of this question. Excellent scientific hard data that support the defendant's position by the same token you can find equally strong scientific
data that supports the position of the prosecution and I concluded that given that sort of standoff situation. Our authority charged with making the ultimate decision is not a court but the legislature. Because public policy and that's what it amounts to is determined by the legislature and only a judge is able to say that under no circumstances is the action of the legislature reasonable as he justified in striking down that legislation. If I were to legislate AW instead of a judge my decision on possession and sale of marijuana I think would be somewhat different. The uniform narcotic drug act of Michigan classifies marijuana as a
narcotic along with such other drugs as heroin opium morphine and cocaine. In Michigan the sale of a narcotic drug does not have to include an exchange of money. Sale includes any transfer of the drug including a gift when nothing is received in return. In other words if you give marijuana to someone you can be prosecuted for sale. And in Michigan a conviction for the sale of marijuana carries with it a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life imprisonment in the case of a first conviction for possession of the drug. The judge has the discretion to call for a penalty that may range from a suspended sentence up to 10 years in prison. After that first offense however the penalties stiffened considerably. A second conviction on a marijuana charge can bring a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a third conviction on a marijuana charge carries a minimum sentence of 20
years and a maximum of 40 years. By contrast a second degree murder conviction in this state prescribes no minimum sentence and allows the judge to declare whatever penalty he chooses up to life imprisonment. And by way of further contrast the minimum sentence for manslaughter is only one year and the maximum 15 years. The severity of Michigan's marijuana laws is not unique in some states they are worse in Colorado and Georgia for example. A second offense for selling the drug to a minor carries the death penalty or life imprisonment. I'm not guilty I haven't done anything wrong. And in fact the laws are on the whole police approach to what is wrong with poor approach to what is wrong. Government's approach is the schools approach the whole thing. And I feel very righteous. You know my carcase were challenging. We
were saying that the laws concerning marijuana violate constitutional provisions freedom you know the penalties provided for people who are convicted on a marijuana was a microphone and I think it was you know unusual in its death for example I'm charged now with with giving away to marijuana cigarettes to an undercover police officer and apparently for that if convicted as a minimum 20 years in the state penitentiary a maximum away from prison and for the charge of possession of those two I think of the two previous charges of possession. So the minimum it's a 20 year minimum for possession for me see possession to marijuana cigarettes so that's ridiculous. You know the whole the whole thing I mean I can see as someone who saw no one
you know how that justifies giving him 20 years in the state penitentiary sense of 22 was ridiculous and comes out of my case is just totally ridiculous. In his concurring opinion issued with the three judge panel his decision that said Johnson Clare would have to stand trial judge Crockett said that while he believed traffic in marijuana to adversely affect legitimate societal interests he was also concerned with the penalty for the sale of the drug. In the words of Judge Crockett the 20 year minimum seems uncommonly severe. It was very infrequent that we have a conviction in this court for a sale. Of narcotics. And the reason is very simple when the prosecutor and defense counsel. Get together going
and see if they can't. Agree. On a plea of guilty to a lesser charge. Everyone who sorrows presumably had possession and wanted to sell and so where the defendant is were going to plead guilty to possession. He is charged with possession and which event. The charge of sale is dropped and therefore we're not car onto our private 20 year maximum. That's particularly true where the amount of marijuana that is very small wanted two cigarettes for example or where the defendant is not a pusher is not engage really in the sale of marijuana but just happened to have given it away. As I read the preliminary examination in the Sinclair case I see no evidence there
that he was in the business of selling marijuana. He did give a cigarette containing marijuana as matter of fact to cigarettes marijuana to an undercover agent of the Detroit Police Department. And that's the basis for the charge of sale in his case. So I'm told that he's been before the court before in connection with the possession or sale of marijuana. So what about the prosecutor would be disposed to negotiate a reduction and charge in his case and I don't know. No matter how many arguments are presented in favor of and against the use of marijuana Johnson Clare still feels the problem comes down to an issue of fundamental rights. He believes marijuana is harmless and because of this fact in the final analysis Johnson Clare does not believe anyone has the right to tell him he is wrong for wanting to
use it if you want to get high. What difference does it make to someone else you know what business is actually of someone else when it's proved the facts show over and over again repeatedly that there is no harmful effects from it except for what they say the social ads are called affection medically there's no effects from what they're concerned with is that people smoke and want to start turning into different kinds of people you know they're there so often and they aren't as aggressive and they aren't is as competitive. You see this is a these are the things that are alarming again. And what's amazing is that they say these things as reasons for not changing the laws the judge in the Terry case in Boston which was a precedent. Michael. Moore The Challenger was unconstitutional not the judge again this is the reason these people we can't allow them by water to follow their own role just see if they
want to. If they don't want to take part in the in the kind of society that we've created Well they should go to the penitentiary that this is what it was when I was on a course this is entirely out of line with American principles as stated in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution. You're a two way forward in the pursuit of happiness if you will is just the right to have access to the right to get out however you want to if it if it isn't affecting someone else and if it's proved to be medically. The participants in this program were Johnson player and Judge George Crockett of Detroit recorders for the next program in this series
Well look at marijuana as it is seen by two lawmakers. State Representative Dale Warner the chairman of the House Special Committee on narcotics and drug abuse and State Senator Roger Craig a man who does not think marijuana should be legal but who has introduced amendments that would remove marijuana and marijuana offenses from inclusion in the state's narcotic laws. And if. It is. The case of Johnson clay or Ark to Mary Jane in perspective. A series of six programs about marijuana produced by Brian Reuben for Michigan State University Radio. This is the national educational radio network.
Mary Jane for perspective
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Mary Jane for perspective; 2,” 1968-12-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Mary Jane for perspective; 2.” 1968-12-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Mary Jane for perspective; 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from