4/20: State Representatives Smoke Cannabis at NH State House with Crowd of 100+

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Several longtime cannabis freedom activists at the 2017 Concord smoke-out.

Since 2009, on April 20th at 4:20pm people from across New Hampshire gather in front of the State House in Concord to commit mass civil disobedience by smoking, vaporizing, or otherwise consuming cannabis in public. As has happened in previous years, we were again joined by multiple state representatives including Libertarian Caleb Dyer of Pelham, NH as well as Keene’s Ward One Democrat, Joseph Stallcop, and Republican Glen Aldrich of Gilford.

Representatives Dyer and Stallcop were both featured speakers and also toked up with a crowd of over 100 people while representative Aldrich took photos, as he has done for years at the rally. Also photographing the event was Granite Haze of Mind blogger Justin Campagnone – you can check out his albums here. I had the honor of video recording the event, including all the speakers. I’ll be posting each speech to the Free Keene YouTube channel, so be sure to subscribe and click the notification bell on the YouTube channel to see the videos as they are released! Meanwhile, here’s a video with some highlights of the event to tide you over:

This year’s event began with speakers at 3pm including representatives Dyer & Stallcop, me explaining the right of Jury Nullification, and Libertarian Party of NH chairman Darryl W Perry. The overcast weather threatened rain which thankfully never materialized and the temperature was cool and pleasant with a couple dozen already in attendance at 3pm by the street, smoking cannabis and chalking messages on the pavement. As we closed in on 4:20pm (the time that cannabis is used in celebration globally) the numbers of attendees swelled to easily over 100 people.

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Just a portion of the excellent crowd, photos courtesy Justin Campagnone

Event organizer and executive director of the 420 Foundation, Shire Dude emceed (and live streamed) the event. As the crowd gathered directly in front of the state house close to 4:20, we heard from speakers including Carla Gericke of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, the executive director of the NH Cannabis Freedom Festival, Rick Naya, and medical cannabis consultant John Padellaro who told us how cannabis helped him with his inoperable brain growth. Padellaro also said, “I don’t support legalization. I support ending prohibition.” This sentiment was echoed by speakers Perry and Gericke, with Gericke also calling on New Hampshire’s new governor, Chris Sununu, to pardon all peaceful drug offenders and end funding for “Granite Hammer”. Perry and representative Dyer’s speeches focused on the current legal status and future of cannabis reform in New Hampshire while Naya reflected on the previous 420 rallies and people we’ve lost to prohibition. In his off-the-cuff speech, representative Stallcop of Keene told the attendees, “we need to stop looking at each other in terms of left or right. I see, in all honesty, there is right and there is wrong…We will stand together as one people and say that this is our decision, this is our choice.” (more…)

Manchester Activists Protest US Syria Strikes

Last weekend, Manchester liberty activists gathered downtown for a protest aimed at US military intervention in Syria. While libertarians support self-defense of the individual, they also support consensual methods of paying for group defense. If someone wants to go attack people in other lands, those supporters should be the ones who pay for it. People who want peace should not be forced, through taxation, to foot the bill for violent adventurism. Hopefully, secession will help disconnect the people of New Hampshire from the depredations of the evil federal government in the future.

The protest did attract some media attention as WMUR-TV reporter Siobhan Lopez filed this video report. Thanks to Kathy Peterson for the photo.

Protesting US Attacks on Syria

Protesting US Attacks on Syria

NH Bitcoiners Speak to Senate Committee About Bitcoin Protection Bill – VIDEO

Bitcoin NH License Plate

Bitcoiners Love NH

The New Hampshire house of representatives recently passed a historic Bitcoin protection bill, that if it makes it through the senate and governor will make New Hampshire the opposite of New York. New York is infamous for its “bitlicense” regulations that drove multiple bitcoin businesses out of the Empire State. In contrast, New Hampshire, if this bill passes, would become a state with explicit protection against regulating Bitcoin businesses as “money transmitters”.

Last week, HB 436 had its public hearing before the senate commerce committee and a bunch of bitcoiners from across the state came out to sign and testify in favor of the bill, which would help ensure Bitcoin businesses continue to launch in and relocate to New Hampshire. It would further solidify New Hampshire’s place in the world as a cryptocurrency hotspot.

The speakers in favor far outnumbered those speaking against, which was really only the NH banking commission, who obviously does not want to lose hold of any of their precious power.

Those who spoke were on point and did a great job communicating with the senators on the committee. Turns out that two of those senators, Andy Sanborn and chairman Daniel Innis both already own bitcoin!

Will the bill pass the senate and be signed by the governor, or will the banking bureaucrats pull out all the stops to crush it? Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on the NH Bitcoin scene.

Here’s the full hearing video:

What Happened to the NH Budget?

State Representative Caleb Dyer

Libertarian State Representative Caleb Dyer

This past Wednesday and Thursday the New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to approve either HB1 or HB2 with their committee amendments.  The failure was caused by an unexpected of coalition of Democrats and the NH House Freedom Caucus (NHHFC) in opposition.  On Wednesday both the Democrats and the House Freedom Caucus brought forth amendments to make late efforts to offer alternatives to the committee amendment that was expected to fail.  

The Eaton amendment was offered by the Democrats for HB1 to reinclude full day kindergarten and increase contributions to select funds.  This amendment failed when the House Freedom Caucus and Republican majority voted in coalition to defeat it.  The House Freedom Caucus brought the Ammon amendment which was a broad “back of the budget cut” in the amount of $200 million which would have required the office of the Governor to find $200 million to satisfy such reductions.  The Ammon amendment also put back into HB1 $219 million in federal funds that had been withheld from the budget by the Finance Committee’s amendment.  After the failure of each bill’s committee amendments and floor amendments House leadership moved to table each bill.  

There was a meeting at 2:30pm on Wednesday between delegates from the House Freedom Caucus including Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown), Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield), Rep. Victoria Sullivan (R-Manchester), Rep. Eric Schleien (R-Hudson), me (L-Pelham) and the House Majority leadership joined by Finance Committee Chair Neal Kurk (R-Weare).  In this meeting we went over a list of major General Fund appropriations including the Municipal Aid provision, the Community College System provision, and the Department of Safety appropriations which were to be targeted for reductions.  Leadership expressed concern that federal matching funds may be lost as a result of reductions to these funds.  

The delegates from the House Freedom Caucus asserted that the position of the caucus was that they would vote for a budget with no more that a 3.0% increase over the last biennium.  Despite this the delegates also asked the leadership if there was some percentage increase where the two camps could “meet in the middle” as Finance chair Kurk had previously indicated that he could, in fact, find cuts that could bring the increase down from 10.5% (in the General Fund) to 4.5% over last biennium.  This proposal had been mentioned to the House Freedom Caucus in convention by delegate John Burt and caucus leader J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton).  The House Majority leadership did not appear to be able to pre-emptively agree to a 4.5% above budget without seeing the specific cuts included in the final amendment.   (more…)

Cheshire Sheriff Heroically Nullifies Immigration Enforcers, Creating NH’s Only Sanctuary County!

Sheriff Eli Rivera

Sheriff Eli Rivera

Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera has been making headlines this week for his compassionate stance against working with federal immigration enforcers. Rivera, a longtime fixture in the community and multi-term sheriff, announced via his website last week:

After taking some time to reflect on this current issue, as Sheriff, I’ve decided that the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office will not seek to enter into an agreement with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to enforce federal immigrations laws. Furthermore, we will not participate in raids, stings or operations that are solely intended at locating an undocumented person or persons. Any representative of ICE requesting our assistance must have an active criminal warrant issued by a judge or must be actively pursuing a criminal investigation that relates to public safety for us to participate.

It’s a welcome policy in a place where being brown or black makes one stick out like a sore thumb, given the population here in Cheshire County is about 96% white.

According to the Sentinel’s report on Rivera’s announcement Keene Police’s acting chief, Steve Russo has yet to comment on the issue, but his late predecessor Brian Costa‘s position was similar to Rivera’s, saying, “We have no interest going forward, nor do we have the resources for deputizing our officers as part of ICE to go out and seek illegal or undocumented immigrants…We govern ourselves by our mission statement”, which says KPD is “to protect life and property and to maintain order within the City while assuring fair and respectful treatment of everyone.”

Costa said of that mission statement in his interview with the Sentinel earlier this month, prior to his untimely passing, “It’s not just a group of words…It’s how we do business.”

Brian Costa

KPD’s Late Chief Brian Costa

It sounds like Sheriff Rivera is on the same page as Costa. In his excellent statement, Rivera continues:

In addition, we will not ask a person their immigration status or detain a person based on an administrative civil detainer that is not issued by a judge. As Sheriff, I do not want undocumented immigrants to fear the Sheriff’s Office, instead I want them to be able to approach and speak to any of my deputies without the fear that they will be turned over to ICE. If in the course of our duties we happen to come across an undocumented person we will handle each encounter in a way we deem appropriate for each situation…

 

If you are an undocumented person in Cheshire County and feel uncertain about approaching law enforcement for fear they will turned you over to ICE, feel free to call me, Sheriff Eli Rivera, at the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the WMUR report on Rivera’s policy, some control-freak politicians are butthurt over this. Good. Unlike those cowardly politicians, kudos to Rivera for having the courage to do the right thing and truly protect the people of Cheshire county from the evil hands of the federal government. It would be better of course if Rivera would also stop cooperating with the feds on other victimless crime enforcement, like the insane War on Drugs, but this is a BIG step in the right direction.

I’m glad to live in a place where law enforcement acts more human, more often, than anywhere else I’ve ever been. You’ve got Rick Van Wickler, Cheshire County’s jail superintendent who is also a longtime speaker at Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a compassionate group of mostly former police which you may remember as being previously called, “Law Enforcement Against Prohibition” until they expanded their mission to include other issues where police reform is badly needed,  Van Wickler has been a constant presence in Concord at state house hearings about drug legalization, speaking strongly in favor of any efforts to end prohibition in New Hampshire.  He also runs his jail much more compassionately than the supermajority of the others in the United States.  Add to that, a relatively calm and approachable group of Keene police, and now this excellent news from Sheriff Rivera.

Thank you, Eli. You’ve earned my vote in the next election. The land known as Cheshire county in the Shire should be a sanctuary for all peaceful people. Your immigration policy helps us get closer to that ideal. Next step, NH seceding from the United States! Viva New Hampshire!

Cop Block Founder Ademo Freeman Is Out of Jail After Major Bail Reduction!

Several weeks after his roadside arrest for possession and trafficking of cannabis in Warren County, Ohio, Cop Block founder Ademo Freeman is out of jail! He announced the exciting news on last night’s Free Talk Live (click to listen to his call) that his bail had been reduced from $75,000 to $5,000, he’s finally been indicted, and one of his felony charges for possession was dropped. He is now facing two felonies, but the early charge removal and recent plea deal offer suggest that the prosecution does not want to take this matter to trial.

Now that he’s out of jail on bond, he’ll be able to better prepare for his trial, unless they offer him an even better plea deal, which he has indicated he’d be willing to negotiate. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest.

Virgil Vaduva and Ademo Freeman, After Ademo's Release!

Virgil Vaduva and Ademo Freeman, After Ademo’s Release!

Also, this excellent article was written by Ademo while in jail. Sounds like he’s had a major paradigm shift to peace, as I once did. Right on, brother.