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.
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
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…)
Marple has been charged for driving without a license and has argued that the court has no jurisdiction over him as he is not “operating a motor vehicle”, which he says is a legal term that only applies to people traveling for commercial purposes. Despite Marple filing an exhaustive legal memorandum outlining the various cases on which he bases his position, the robed woman cited her own court cases:
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has also consistently ruled that the operation of an automobile- upon a public highway is not a right, but” … only a privilege which the state may grant or withhold at pleasure …. ” State V; Sterrin, 78 N.H. 220, 222 (1916), citing Comm.v. Kingsbury, 199 Mass. 542. The Court, in State v. Sterrin, at 222, also cited State v. Corron, 73 N.H. 434, 446 (1905), which references a liquor licensee, by stating: “The statute confers a privilege which the citizen is at liberty to accept by becoming a licensee, or not, as he pleases. Having accepted the privilege, he cannot object to any conditions which have been attached thereto by a grantor with power to entirely withhold the privileges.”
Translation: “There is no right to travel safely on the roads without asking your master government’s permission first. We are in charge here and you’ll do what we say, or else.”
State Rep Dick Marple campaigns at the polls.
Spath then went on to have the trial date for Marple driving without the state permission slip set for April 18th at 12:45pm in Concord district court.
However, it doesn’t end there. Marple has since filed an 11-page “Affidavit of Truth – in Commerce – Second Demand” with the NH Secretary of State’s office and the court. In the affidavit, Marple challenges jurisdiction again, saying the court needs to show the signed “instrument” where he consents to their rule and further demands a jury trial. He says Spath’s stand on her alleged jurisdiction is an “abuse of discretion” and cites more court cases claiming that the state may not interfere in your personal business. He demands the case be dismissed with prejudice, saying that Spath’s claim that he voluntarily chose to acquire a license is false. Marple says he was under duress to contract for the license: (more…)
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.
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.”
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!
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!
A few weeks after winning their first-ever “Liberty in Action” achievement award for “Spreading the Message”, as popularly voted on by Free State Project members, the FSP’s unelected board of directors banned me and my talk radio show, from attending FSP events like Porcfest. (An event I helped sponsor and promote for many years.)
Last year that festival became “family friendly”, after years of prudish libertarians complaining about drug use and occasional female toplessness. To kick off the changes, I was banned from the FSP events because of my libertarian views on age of consent, according to their press release. It’s commonly known that my most recent girlfriend was a later-teenager and this supposedly infuriated key volunteers within the FSP, leading to my ouster.
Have you signed the Shire Society Declaration yet?
To be clear, I don’t want John to get banned from Porcfest, nor do I have any interest in being part of the FSP. I just want to point out the glaring, laughable hypocrisy. People who love liberty should probably still attend Porcfest, but it’s getting harder to recommend that, given that the event length this year has been chopped in half but the price hasn’t lowered one bit.
Plus, Porcfest now has a more-principled competitor, SomaliaFest, which is set to happen June 16th-20th, at Rogers Campground. That’s right before Porcfest, which is slated for June 21st-25th at the same campground. Unlike today’s Porcfest, but more like Porcfest from the old days, SomaliaFest has no entrance fee. Attendees can just camp, vend, hang out with cool liberty folk, and self-organize whatever they want. SomaliaFest sounds like a good time, and much more market-driven than the now-centrally-controlled Porcfest. (more…)