Activism and Advocacy for January
The420TimesStaff | Jan 17, 2012 | Comments 0
By Sarah Diesel
Imagine you are sitting in a court room facing criminal charges; numerous felonies in fact. You are at the mercy of the court system. Why? Because of a plant called cannabis. Beyond this incredibly terrifying and yet ridiculous situation you have also dealt with arrest, jail, posting bail, countless hours in courtrooms, the list goes on and on. Oddly, some friends have become distant and are nervous to get in trouble for coming near you. Finding the right attorney is scary as well as the legal fees that accumulate rapidly. Moreover, most of the attorneys and the judges that are assigned, by the court, to your case don’t see cannabis as a medicine. They follow the local and state laws which could be in your favor — or not.
After all this, wouldn’t you want people to be there to support you? This is what cannabis activists call “court support.” Please, please, please, (Did I say please?) use common sense when you go to a courthouse (or any place for that matter). It’s so important that you follow these simple court support guidelines below so you can be a positive and beneficial activist.
Dress professionally. The first impression is a lasting impression. cannabis activists want to be taken seriously so jeans, t-shirts and sneakers are not acceptable attire for a courtroom. Slacks and a button up shirt with nice shoes or a conservative dress and comfortable shoes; not the outfit you wear to the club. If you wear sunglasses, take them off and put them away. Do not leave them around your neck or on your head. Simple things like taking a shower and brushing your hair are important. It seems silly but some people need to be reminded of these things.
WHAT TO BRING:
Valid ID (driver’s license). You might not be able to enter without it.
Money for food. Sometimes they have a vending machine or cafeteria. Be prepared to stay all day. Call ahead to see if you can bring your own food and water.
A book or magazine to read during downtime outside the courtroom or when the Judge is off the bench. Please make sure the literature is appropriate material for a courtroom. Talking really isn’t the best idea, especially if you have a large number of people. They will tell you to be quiet. If they have to tell you more than once you may be asked to leave the courtroom.
Professionalism and Punctuality (P&P). Be on your best behavior and respectful. A courthouse is like being at grandma’s house, in a church and a library all at the same time. Show up early. Sometime there is a line to get in. Allow yourself an extra 20-30 minutes to get through this line and find the courtroom. Waiting in the hallway with everyone is better than showing up late.
Smile and a positive attitude. This is a very nerve reckoning experience for everyone especially the person who is facing charges. So smile and give them a wink if the chance happens. If they are in custody then this is different. You may not touch or attempt in any way to engage with the defendant. They don’t need to see you crying or that “frightened” look. Put on your game face. I know it’s hard but you have to try.
WHAT NOT TO BRING:
Cannabis. Keep this locked in the trunk of your car or at home. This is not the time or place to have it. Need I say more?
The “scent” of cannabis. If you need to smoke your medicine, then do it before you take a shower. Perfume and cologne just mask it and it’s even more obvious. Vaping, topicals, tinctures and med-ibles are better methods. There is no virtually no scent of cannabis after you have medicated.
Objects that could be mistaken for a weapon. You will go through a metal detector and they have you empty your pockets. I’ve even seen people not get in because of a lighter. They are asked to go outside and dispose of it, only to have to get back in line.
Protest/rally signs. Signs are ONLY to be used OUTSIDE the courthouse at a rally or protest and will it be specified to bring them beforehand.
Don’t use your cell phone! Unless you want the bailiff to take it! I’ve seen it happen many of times. It’s just not worth it. That’s why you bring a book or magazine. If you can’t leave your phone in the car or at home then turn it off when in the courtroom.
Ballgame voice. As much as you want to yell and scream, “That’s not true!” or other words that I will leave to your imagination, keep it cool, refrain from giving your opinion out loud. Once again, you will be asked to leave. This is not cool for the person who is being prosecuted. You may hurt their case with your actions, especially if it’s a jury trial.
TRANSPORTATION / PARKING:
Parking can be a bit expensive for all day. I’ve paid up to $16.00 for downtown LA parking! Yikes!
Carpooling. This cuts down on the cost of parking and it’s better for the environment too.
Public transportation. If I can, I take the subway when going to downtown LA. It’s less than $2.00 one way or a $5.00 day pass. Plus, no traffic! Taking the bus is also an option. There are stops at all courthouses.
This may sound like too many rules and things to remember, but you are a cannabis activist. Not only will you help out another cannabis activist, you will lift their spirit at the same time.
There is power in numbers, for example; imagine how impactful it would be if people had to wait outside the courtroom because it’s full of supporters. Honestly though, this is a very rewarding experience on so many levels. In the end, we are all the same, we are all humans. Justice shall prevail.