NH Magazine asks “Is the Live Free or Die State Ready for Legal Weed?”

The current (January 2012) edition of New Hampshire Magazine prominently features Bob “Weeda Claus” Constantine in the cover story, “Up In Smoke: Is the Live Free or Die State Ready for Legal Weed?” In addition to being Weeda Claus, Bob is an advocate for jury awareness at NHJury.com and will launch the “Just Say Know” campaign with other Fr33 Agents in 2012. Along with Bob, Kirk McNeil of the New Hampshire Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy, John Tommasi of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), State Senator Jim Forsythe and State Representative Evalyn Merrick – someone who personally benefitted from medical marijuana – all represent the view that the prohibition of cannabis should end.

The following is the “Waging War” section from NH Magazine’s “Up in Smoke” article:

Photo of Bob Constantine by P.T. Sullivan for NHMagazine.com

If asked to name the longest war on record that was declared and fought by the U.S. government, what would you answer? The Revolution? World War II? Vietnam? Iraq and Afghanistan? Not even close. This is the 40th year of the “War on Drugs,” first declared by President Nixon in 1971. The Obama administration declared it was dropping the term “war” in 2009 but, linguistic quibbles aside, the same basic battle strategy continues.In most discussions about crime and its consequences, everyone involved is usually careful to first cite the plight of the victims of the crime: the beaten child, the grieving mother. Alongside the victims are the law enforcement officers who have performed their duty in pursuit of justice. But here’s where it gets sticky.

A Gallup poll taken in October 2011 revealed that 50 percent of all Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, up from 46 percent the previous year. Clearly, a record number of Americans – including non-users – can’t escape the feeling that when it comes to drug abuse offenses, the perpetrator is all too often also the victim.

Bob Constantine has lived in Grafton, N.H., for almost all of his 52 years. He describes himself as “pretty much a normal guy with professional jobs and so forth in property management and manufacturing.” Constantine has osteoarthritis in both hips and readily concedes that he grows and uses cannabis – marijuana – both recreationally and medicinally. “My personal position is – I think it very hypocritical for the state to sell over $500 million in alcohol but put people in jail – peaceful people – for using a natural-occurring plant.”

Constantine’s home is in an isolated spot because he likes it quiet, but not long ago he found out it was not isolated enough. On September 4, 2009, he looked up to find seven heavily armed police officers raiding his home. They seized about a pound of marijuana and took him into custody. “It was a shocking experience,” says Constantine. “One of the officers told me – talking out of the earshot of the other cops – ‘I gotta stop doing this. You’re a good guy.’ So I stepped closer and said, ‘Damn right, I’m a good guy. And what you’re doing is wrong. You’re not protecting anybody.’ So I know talking privately to some cops, when it’s just me and them, they know this is bullsh*t.”

Constantine is an advocate of jury nullification – the right of a jury to overturn a court decision perceived as unfair. He had a court-appointed attorney but refused a plea bargain and instead argued his own case to the Grafton County jury. He explained to them in his closing argument that they have the “right of conscience.” They did not convict him of the felony of manufacturing, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in jail. They did not convict him of the lesser felony of 3 ½ years. They did find him guilty of the misdemeanor possession charge, which is significantly less. “I’m counting it as a win for the jury nullification argument,” he says.

Still, Constantine paid a price. He was sentenced to a year with 10 months suspended, a $1,000 fine and probation for possibly two years. “My life savings are gone because of this and it’s a huge disruption,” he says. “I was in a relationship with someone for 11 years and that went down the tube.”

Constantine says he was not permitted to make an argument that he was using medical marijuana, but added that, by rights, either use is his basic right:

“You either own your body or you don’t and the element of crime needs to involve a victim.”

Read the entire article here, which also includes profiles of modern day prohibitionists who receive money from State and Federal government agencies (including law enforcement and education) to wage war on our peaceful neighbors. Also featured in the article is Tommy Chong who discusses the Free State Project, an organization that promotes a strategy for “Liberty in Our Lifetime” by encouraging people to move to the State of New Hampshire.  He says:

I’ve got [NH’s Free State Project] on my Facebook – they write me all the time. My take on that is God bless ’em.”

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