Protest at the Liberty Bell: Cannabis Activists Receive Federal Sentencing

Share this with your friends

IMAGE: “Old Liberty Bell” by James Cremer, 1821-1893

This past Wednesday, I was humbled and honored to lay witness to a matter of no less significance to the course of history than was The Boston Tea Party itself.

In Federal Court in Philadelphia, across the street from The Liberty Bell, True American Hero Activist Chris Goldstein and Veteran-of-Foreign-War Don DeZarn were each sentenced to $3,000 in fines and two-years’ probation for lighting up in protest of the War on Cannabis at said Liberty Bell.

The philosophy behind The Bell is as cracked as the bell itself.

Judge Hart used flawed reasoning to reach his conclusion.  He asked what would happen if someone wanted to protest the speed limits by inviting all of his friends to drive down the Parkway at excessive speeds, but in Goldstein and DeZarn’s case, there was no reckless endangerment.  A more apt comparison would have been to invite your friends to protest at New Jersey Motorsports Park.  Amongst the multifaceted point that Goldstein and DeZarn were trying to make, was that the punishment is unjust and the law is disjointed from reality.  Their hope was to make their case to the Courts that the Courts must step in (though I suppose that they preferred to definitively make that case at the trial level).

Don DeZarn, left, and Chris Goldstein waiting for Judge Hart to enter the courtroom for sentencing. PHOTO: Justin Alpert

Don DeZarn, left, and Chris Goldstein waiting for Judge Hart to enter the courtroom for sentencing.
PHOTO: Justin Alpert

Goldstein and DeZarn would not have had the opportunity to make their case to the Courts had they not lit up in protest.  There is a time and a place for everything.  Had they lit up in protest in the halls of a public high school during the five minutes before Third Period, there is not a person amongst us who wouldn’t welcome their extended stay at a correctional facility, but that is not what happened.  The Symbolism of ‘at The Liberty Bell’ was an important part of their point, and the point that is being made on appeal.

Social protest necessarily involves pushing the limits of the law.  Sitting at lunch counters used to be illegal for some folks… until it wasn’t… and that happened by those people pushing the limits of the law.  Goldstein and DeZarn not only did so effectively, but did so responsibly… at The Liberty Bell, where their point to the Court was only able to be made by peacefully lighting up.  Nonetheless, in doing so, they have essentially nailed themselves to the cause with two years’ probation.

What part can YOU play to make their point, to win The War, and get the Government out of their lives?  You don’t have to break the law.  Perhaps you might write a letter to your legislators, saying that you are an educated adult, and a parent, and that you support a change in the law.  Thank you for your leadership.