Legal Legend. Cannabis Consumer and Patient.

This is an article reprinted from West Coast Cannabis. I was reminded of it today and thought it was a good read for those who may have missed it.

J. Tony Serra

Legal Legend. Cannabis Consumer and Patient.

I sat down with the great Tony Serra for a “privileged” interview in the conference room of his eclectic offices on the infamous strip joint lined street of Broadway in San Francisco. The interview is privileged because technically Tony is one of my attorneys. I met Tony in 2002 at his famed Halloween party that his law offices throw every year at The Great American Music hall on O’Farrell Street; But I got to know him much better after the 2007 raid on my business, Tainted Inc./Compassion Medicinal Edibles, by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. I chose Tony to be one of my attorneys because he is a well-known political activist and long-time supporter of cannabis and, of course, because he represented Brownie Mary, a volunteer that made brownies for patients in the AIDS ward of SF General Hospital, when she was prosecuted for her actions. It was obvious he was more than qualified to represent our cannabis foods case in a federal courtroom.

Tony and my other attorney, Sara Zalkin, escorted me to the front of the federal courtroom when I surrendered myself after the raid. The Judge looked up with a smile and said, “Well. Hello, Mr. Serra. How have you been?” You see, everyone in the legal world knows Tony Serra. He has been fighting some of the most highly politicized cases of the last 40 years and at 75-years-young he looks as if he is nowhere near finished. He is still full of fight and spirit at every level. His clients include the likes of Huey Newton, Dennis Peron, Ellie Nesler, members of The Symbionese Liberation Army, The Hells Angels, The White Panthers, and Earth First!, and, well, me. He says he will never retire. “I want to die defending someone in jury trial and have the Judge say ‘Well, his client is guilty as hell but give it to him because he tried so damn hard.’”

Tony’s passion is jury trials. He likens it to a fix that he needs to get to feel alive. He is a “jury trial junkie.” It is his drug of choice. The courtroom is his stage and he is a loud and buoyant player in the masterpiece that is the law. He does federal in-state trials, he does state medical cannabis trials, and he does federal cases nationwide. He has come to specialize in medical cannabis cases at both the federal and state levels, as he has a vested interest in these cases because Tony Serra is also a medical cannabis patient. “I am the experiment,” Serra says. “I began smoking grass in ‘65 or ‘66. I suppose I was always a patient, but the term medical never occurred to me. In retrospect I can see how this sacrament expanded my transcendental view and helped to medicate the stress. It adds to my life.”

I asked Tony if he was optimistic that medical cannabis would be legalized under the Obama administration. He said he was still pessimistic. “We haven’t seen anything dramatic happen, yet,” he says. “The administration could easily move (cannabis) from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3, which is where it should be. A trial lawyer lives to hear two words: Not Guilty. I have yet to hear that. I see (Brian) Epis getting 10 years. Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer get five years each. Rosenthal is still a convicted felon. All Guilty. It is a downer.”

He believes that the overzealous law enforcement community may be jealous of those who choose cannabis. “Marijuana people are more free,” declares Serra. “It is simple. It is a form of treason and they know they must crush it. Because they know it opens up a realization for people. (Cannabis) will make you empathize with mans’ brutality against man, and people will refuse to participate. I won’t be your marine. I won’t be your bomber. I won’t kill people in the Middle East for you. Some cops have just bought this shit about marijuana and gateway drugs and being lazy. There is no one real reason for their actions.”

I asked him what he thought about the legalization efforts that were on the horizon with Tom Ammiano’s bill and the Tax and Regulate Cannabis effort for a 2010 proposition. “I haven’t completely studied them, but I don’t believe the government should be in it,” he said. “Once it is legalized the greedy corporations will get their hands in it and it creates this corporate moral disability. Some large dispensaries already practice acts of corporate moral disability. I want it to stay with the mammas and the pappas. The small and unique places. I want the government out of my closet. It should be free, man. I am never for more taxes. I am a tax resister.”

Tony is a tax resister from way back. He says he is a libertarian in that respect. In 2005, Tony was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison for “willful failure to pay taxes”. He refused to pay them in an act of protest. He saw the country heading in the wrong direction and did not want to help fund the corrupt politics our country was engaged in. He served most of a 10-month sentence in Lompc Federal Prison for his beliefs and protest. He is a man of conviction.

Tony lives a very humble life. He is known for driving and old beater of a car, wearing second hand clothes, and pays himself just enough to cover his minimal expenses. I can attest to the clothing, as he wore a dress shirt with a small rip across the chest right underneath his suit jacket to my preliminary hearing. Tony is a no frills kind of guy. His reward is not in accumulating wealth and possessions. He is rewarded with a magnificent and exciting life where he makes a difference in the world of real people.

He has always had an “intrapersonal relationship” with cannabis. Tony states, “I started smoking back in the black jazz clubs in the 60’s. People would have kilos from Mexico with stems and seeds all in it, and everyone thought it was fine. I have used cannabis regularly since then and have stopped for many periods of time when I traveled or when I was in jail and I can live with or without it. I just choose to live with it. The ‘pot addict’ theory is bullshit.”

Tony admits that he has tended some small gardens in his time and that he loves to watch the cannabis plant develop into a resinous and sticky beautiful healing plant. He enjoys smoking cannabis from his pipe and does not consider himself a connoisseur in any respect as he enjoys smoking whatever he has available at the time.

Tony loves marijuana. He will undoubtedly continue to fight for the rights of cannabis patients and providers until either this war on cannabis is over or he is long gone, and he has some words of wisdom for those of us on the front lines of the cannabis movement:

“We CANNOT be complacent. We are still martyrs. The growers. The dispensaries. The patients.” He explains, “It is like the second half of a football game and we are still not ahead. We cannot say that government is coming around, because they are not. We cannot afford to sit on our hands. People must put forth a full effort. We must put in every intellectual, psychological and every kind of group effort. This happens in a myriad of ways, like protests, letter writing, and attending all types of cannabis related events. We cannot rest until we put this thing to a finale.”

Let those words marinate for a second. From a man who spent the last four plus decades inside of a courtroom watching this movement become what it is today, we can learn that this fight is far from over. Tony Serra has seen cannabis prohibition grow since LSD was still legal and they sold fresh peyote openly in Golden Gate Park, and he has fought the system on it every step of the way. We owe it to him to “put this thing to a finale.”

Congratulations to Jeff Jones and Dale Clare (-Jones?)….

Jeff Jones and Dale Clare were married yesterday. Because of the limits of my federal confinement I could not make the wedding but wanted to wish them a happy life together and congratulate their commitment to one another. To two of the best cannabis reform activists this movement has been lucky enough to have fighting daily for the cause. May your life be long and prosperous, and may cannabis users see your bond as a symbol of our coming freedom. Thanks again and YES ON 19!!!

Dennis Peron ends his campaign against Prop. 19.

Steve Kubby reports that Dennis Peron has decided to end his campaign against Proposition 19. Does that means he is on board? Change of heart? Will be teaching at Oaksterdam again? All or any of these would be great news. It is time to join together and push 19 over the edge to victory in November.

A message from Steve Kubby:

Friends,

I’ve asked Dennis Peron to cease his criticism of Prop. 19 and he has agreed.  Dennis gave me permission to make a public announcement, but I have also asked him to draft his own announcement as well.

This should not minimize the validity and importance of the issues raised by Dennis, but should be viewed as a recognition by Dennis that it is time to build unity within our cannabis community.  I respect Dennis even more than ever, for taking the high road, as we go into the final three months of this campaign.

Finally, I would like to again acknowledge Dennis Peron for his extraordinary leadership and vision.  Indeed, I do not believemedical marijuana would be legal in any state, if it were not for his leadership and courage.

Those who might want to personally thank Dennis can reach him at <castrocastle@gmail.com>.

Let freedom grow,

Steve Kubby

We await an official response from Dennis and will update the story as we get it…

UPDATE: KC Kimber reports he just got off the phone with Dennis who said he was not ending his crusade. We still await confirmation from Peron…

UPDATE cont: What exactly was said by Dennis to KC Kimber: “Dennis said to me, and I suggest you call and verify for yourself. He doesn’t want 19 to lose by too much so he is done actively campaigning against it. Campaigning being the keyword.” via Facebook.

CW has not been able to reach Peron for a direct statement…

Conrad Demands Retraction from Dragonfly De La Cruz (S v. LM)

CW: Chris Conrad clarifies the argument. You might say the simplified edition….

Dragonfllies first 18 lies :: Demand a public retraction from Stoners vs legal marijuana


After I sent that I found a few typos that are fixed below.

Colleagues,

Many people have been concerned and upset to read an analysis of Prop 19 that is purportedly authored by a person with no record of activism within the cannabis movement. Dragonfly is good at writing convincing fiction, but her analysis is basically a series of lies that she rotates and builds one upon the other. Once you see that almost nothing she says is true, you realize that her fancy fiction is designed to keep prohibition in place for decades to come.

I am hoping someone will forward this to Dragonfly-liar to find out where is she getting her false information and get her to publish a full retraction and apology to the campaign.

Please forward and post everywhere that you find reference to her made-up claims.

We demand that Dragonfly publicly retract her lies, apologize to the campaign and all the people she has misled, and try to undo the damage she has done.

I went through her attack and picked out 18 random lies, not to point them all but just to make the point that there are more than 18 lies in her 18 arguments, however, there are many, many more imbedded into her terrorist attack on the legalization movement.

These are the facts:

1) Prop 19 WILL legalize marijuana for use and cultivation by adults over age 21.

2) Prop 19 does NOT create any new felonies or misdemeanors, it only adjusts the penalty for one misdemeanor to parallel the alcohol laws.

3) Prop 19 DOES eliminate three misdemeanors and at least one felony.

4) Prop 19 DOES preserve Prop 215 and SB 420 intact and states it several times in the purposes and reinforces that fact in the ballot argument.


(This is the 3rd pic listed if you Google Prop. 215 under images. Chris Conrad and the lovely Mikki Norris. Believe Chris would never sign on to something that would destroy his work thus far.)

5) Marijuana is not more legal when it is decriminalized than when it is legal. That’s just plain stupid. Anything is more legal when it is legal, and that is what Prop 19 does is make it LAWFUL to have cannabis in accordance with its rules.

6) It is NOT currently legal to smoke bong hits in the park with teenagers and Prop 19 does not make it legal to do so, it leaves the current law intact.

7) It is NOT currently legal to smoke around minors and Prop 19 does not make it illegal to do so, it leaves the current law intact.

8) There is NO $50 an ounce in the initiative.


9) There are NO corporate favors over citizens, in fact the word corporation is not even in the initiative.

10) Prop 19 was NOT intended to “end the drug war,” it is intended to legalize adult cannabis.

11) People DO get arrested for marijuana every day in California.

12) The initiative DOES NOT make it a felony to grow or possess larger amounts; it’s already a misdemeanor to possess larger amounts than an ounce and a felony to cultivate for non-medical purposes. Prop 19 creates an affirmative defense for possession and cultivation that does not exist under the current law.

13) Blacks and latinos ARE indeed targeted by police.

14) Personal cultivation, use and sharing of cannabis would NOT be taxed under Prop 19.

15) Parents smoking around their children will NOT be an arrestable offense under the initiative, it would remain a misdemeanor possession charge with a $100 fine — the same as now.

16) No one ever said the initiative allows 25 square feet of garden per person, the initiative is per residence or parcel and allows both the affirmative defense for larger mounts, medical marijuana is not limited by it, and there is an affirmative DEFENSE for larger gardens.

17)  This is not a tax initiative that can be directed to health care or police or anything else, that would require a 2/3 vote to pass it. This is an initiative that legalizes small amounts for adult possession and cultivation and allows local COMMUNITIES to tax and regulate marijuana the way they do other legal commodities.

18) The price of marijuana WILL drop after Prop 19 passes, that’s why so many drug dealers don’t like it. The Rand Corporationsays to $30 per ounce, but most people think that good bud will go for around $100 per ounce.

Furthermore, it’s not stoners who oppose this, it’s dealers and narcs and confused people. Most stoners support Prop 19, only a small percentage have been misled by her lies. Marc Emery supports the initiative, as do I and most of the credible activists in the movement. Jack Herer is not against the campaign, he died before it got fully under way. No one knows what he would be saying now, so it would be to stop speaking in his name. Dennis Peron is its main opponent within the movement and as Jack Herer always used to say, “Dennis doesn’t want marijuana legalized.” Dennis opposed Jack Herer’s initiatives. He opposed SB 420 that legalized collectives and dispensaries. Many of Dragonfly’s lies are drawn directly from Peron’s mistakes and distortions.

No one said the initiative could not be improved, but stop lying Dragonfly, whoever you are.

— Chris Conrad, court-qualified cannabis expert and consultant