Creamer has begun a bit of a crusade. A week after his arrest, he went to Topeka. the state capital, and bought $100 worth of marijuana stamps to demonstrate the tax value of legal marijuana. Several days later, he staged a rally on the Capitol steps. Creamer and other pot advocates also demonstrated on Halloween in Topeka and Lawrence. In addition, Creamer has gone on a poppy-seed binge. He's hoping that when court officials ask for a urine sample, which he's required to submit as a part of his bond agreement, he'll test positive for opiates as a result of eating poppy-seed rolls. Creamer gives away copies of the September, 1989 Science magazine article that argued in favor of a careful and far-reaching legalization of controlled substances as well as the Wall Street Journal s transcription of former Secretarv of State George Shultz's speech in which he urged policy-makers to consider legalization. Creamer is convinced that he's doing the right thing, despite the expense and potential incarceration as a result of his arrest. The anti-drug forces are getting all this coverage, he explains, "but nobody who might be in favor of marijuana can say anything publicly for fear of loss of job or getting their name on some list or something." Creamer says his position as an artist and househusband allows him the freedom to speak out. He argues that marijuana is far less intoxicating and dangerous than alcohol and says legalizing marijuana would take the profit out of it. Legalization would also provide tax dollars and allow money now spent on enforcement to be used for drug treatment.
In Kansas, Creamer says proudly, "just about everybody knows about the guy who walked in and smoked marijuana in the police station."
CREAMER, WHO calls himself a master craftsman because of his experience in carpentry, welding and plumbing, also has degrees in psychology and human relations from Kansas University. Married with six children, he also said he is a "house husband." According to a spokesman in the Kansas attorney general's office, Creamer will need the signatures of 1,179 registered voters to have his name placed on the primary ballot. The spokesman said no one has officially filed from either party for the 2nd District seat, now held by U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery, a Democrat. Creamer said he planned to gather about 2,000 signatures to make sure he gets his name on the ballot.
He said he decided to run "because I'm tired of waiting for somebody else to figure out what's going on. Congress wastes time trying to argue about what to do. Why would they know what to do, they're just lawmakers and lawyers. They have no experience in problem solving." "A plumber has to go in and diagnose the problem and fix it," he said. "I get paid if it's done right."
CREAMER SAID there would be a $50 billion "peace dividend" if marijuana was legalized. He also said legalization would help focus attention on fighting harmful drugs such as cocaine. A motion hearing on a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana filed against Creamer for smoking marijuana at the Lawrence Police Department is scheduled for April 20. A trial is scheduled for April 25. Creamer said a lot of people will laugh about his entering the race, but he thinks he has a chance. "I feel the whole mood about the legalization of marijuana is changing and will help my campaign," he said.
"JUST AS THE president made his point by holding up crack cocaine, my client had marijuana," Harper said. Although Bush "was able to go about his business" after his speech, the attorney said, Creamer was arrested and jailed. The attorney argued that Creamer's free speech right was violated.
Creamer is scheduled to stand trial Wednesday on a misdemeanor count of possessing marijuana.
Harper further argued that Creamer's case is similar to the Texas case that prompted last summer's US. Supreme Court decision on flag-burning. The court struck down a Texas statute that provided criminal penalties for burning a US flag. Harper said the current Kansas statute for possessing marijuana, like the Texas flag-burning statute, left Creamer with no "alternative channels" to protest it besides breaking it.
CREAMER TESTIFIED Friday that he did not believe the news media would listen to his views unless he staged the event. He said he was fearful of coming out in favor of marijuana legalization because he thought the police would place his name on some sort of blacklist. Harper told Douglas County District Judge James Paddock that the goal of his motion was not to strike down Kansas marljuana laws. Rather, he said, "In this instance, the law should give way. Mark Creamer harmed no one. He has moved the (legalization) dialogue...forward."
Arguing against the motion, Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jim Flory defined as "ludicrous" Harper's point about the similarities between the actions of Creamer and Bush. "I'VE stood in this courtroom and every courtroom in this judicial district and held up bags of cocaine," Flory said. "Just because I hold it up and make speeches and there may be a camera present doesn't mean that Mark Creamer can go out and smoke marijuana." Flory argued that an alternative to smoking marijuana would have been for Creamer to take his views to the president, to his congressmen or even to the district attorney. When questioned by Flory, Creamer testified that he had not called any officials. Flory said Creamer's protest was an act of conduct and not speech. He said there are no case decisions saying the conduct of using illegal drugs is protected by the First Amendment. On the contrary, Flory argued, case law indicates that illegal drug use is not a protected act. In support of his argument, Flory cited a US Supreme Court decision Tuesday, saying there is no constitutional right to take the hallucinogenic drug peyote as a religious practice.
Paddock told the attorneys he would study the case and issue a ruling. The judge did not specify when he would make his decision on the motion.
Creamer, 43, was arrested Sept. 5,1989, after he entered the Lawrence police station, lit a marijuana cigarette and blew smoke at an on-duty police officer. At the time of the incident Creamer told reporters he was taking the action to protest the $8 billion war on drugs that President George Bush announced during a televised address earlier that evening. During a hearing last week Creamer testified that since he did not have the president's unlimited access to the media, he thought that publicly smoking the drug was the only way he could generate media attention and get his message to the public. Creamer thinks marijuana is a "soft" drug that is far less harmful than cocaine or other drugs.
In his ruling Paddock found that unlike the Texas case where the burning of an American flag was found to be a form of free speech, Creamer's actions were not protected by the constitution. The judge found the Kansas law governing possession of marijuana to be "narrowly drawn to further a substantial government interest as set out." That interest, the judge wrote, was unrelated to free speech and the restriction "leaves open ample alternative channels for communication of the defèndant's message."
The judge also failed to agree with Creamer's argument that current drug laws are not equally applied. In that argument Creamer alleged that in order for the laws to be equal, the president also should have been arrested that night because he possessed cocaine during his address. The judge noted first that Bush was not in Kansas at the time of the address and that under current law, it is doubtful he could have been found guilty of possessing the drug since there were questions on whether he intended to exercise control over it. The judge said however that "when one smokes marijuana with knowledge of the nature of his act, control is not a serious issue." Creamer is scheduled to stand trial on the charge Wednesday in district court.
Creamer testified today that he was arrested September 5th, 1989, when he smoked marijuana in front of a police officer at the law enforcement center to protest President Bush's drug policy. Creamer, who believes marijuana should be legalized, made his protest after Bush announced the drug policy to a national television audience. Creamer has said marijuana shouldn't be treated the same as hard drugs such as cocaine or heroin. After handing down his verdict, Paddock scheduled sentencing for 4:30 p.m. May 23rd . Marijuana possession, a Class A misdemeanor, carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. Jerry Harper, Creamer's attorney, argued in court today that Creamer's sole motivation for breaking the law was to give voice to his beliefs. Harper said Creamer did not have criminal intent to violate the law when he lighted up at the police department.
"My client is not a prominent individual on the national scene," Harper said. "But that does not bar him from the right to participate in this (drug) debate. He wanted to speak out about his deeply felt beliefs about the solution to the drug problem." Douglas County District Attorney Jim Flory argued that Creamer intentionally broke the law. Period. "We are a government of law, not persons," he said. "No person stands above the law." After hearing the evidence and the attorney's arguments, Paddock immediately handed down the guilty verdict. Harper then filed a motion too dismiss the case on the grounds that statutes whose numbers are listed in the complaint against Creamer were repealed by legislators in May, 1989. Harper argued that prosecutors did not make a simple typographical if if error when they filed the complaint but rather charged Creamer with statues that did not exist on September 5th, 1989. Harper also filed a motion for a hearing to discuss Paddock's decision on a previous defense motion to dismiss the case. Paddock took the motions under advisement.
Tuesday's 'Hemp Tour '90' rally in Lawrence's Burcham Park was the latest in a nation-wide series of rallies to rally popular support for the decriminalization of marijuana. The tour is stopping in more than 50 cities this spring to promote marijuana, or hemp, for use as a recreational drug and as a source of fuel, paper, cloth, paint and medicine. Describing hemp as that "number 1 cash crop," Clark said that if marijuana were legalized, farmers in each county in the country could soon be growing enough hemp to meet residents' energy, textile, paint and paper needs. He also said marijuana is a non-toxic drug that is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.
Literature supplied at the rally stated that hemp yields four to 10 times more cellulose to the acre than corn. That cellulose could be converted to methanol and used to power cars and other motor vehicles, it claimed. An acre of hemp could also produce as much paper as four acres of timber. Paper made from hemp pulp also requires less chemical processing and is less polluting, the literature declared. "Marijuana is an annual, non-polluting, renewable natural resource, that is completely illegal," Clark said. "That is totally unacceptable. It's industrial totalitarianism."
Lawrence activist Mark Creamer, who was convicted last week for possession of marijuana after openly smoking a marijuana cigarette inside the Lawrence Police Department, helped organize Tuesday's rally. Creamer, who is to be sentenced May 23, estimated between 150 and 200 people attended the rally. "For a weekday we feel pretty good," he said, noting that about 1,500 people attended a similar rally over the weekend in Volker Park in Kansas City. Creamer announced in May that he would run against incumbent Rep. Jim Slattery, D-Kan., for the 2nd District congressional seat on the issues of environmental concerns and legalization of marijuana. A third rally is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. today on the south steps of the Capitol in Topeka. Although he admitted that some people in the park were using marijuana, Creamer said rally organizers were against marijuana usage at the event. "We asked that people not smoke," he said. "We don't want that to be the story. The story is the true facts about marijuana. When the true facts are known, marijuana will be legal."
CREAMER SPOKE to about 100 people on the south steps of the Capitol to promote his candidacy for the 2nd Democratic congressional nomination and "Hemp Tour '90." Participants in the tour are affiliated with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and are traveling to 54 cities to promote their cause.
U.S. Rep. Jim Slattery, Dem.-Kan., the incumbent 2nd District congressman has declared his candidacy for Democratic renomination.
Creamer was convicted on April 25 in Douglas County District Court of a Class A misdemeanor for possessing marijuana, following his arrest last fall for smoking a marijuana cigarette in the Lawrence Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. He testified that his actions were designed to protest President Bush's Sept. S announcement of a $8 billion plan to combat drugs.
CREAMER SAID he believes marijuana is a "soft" drug that consumes too much of law enforcement's efforts, which he said should be directed toward more damaging drugs, such as cocaine, and other crimes, such as wife-beating, child abuse and driving while under the influence of alcohol. He will be sentenced May 23 and faces a maximum of one year in jail and a fine. Creamer said his attorney, Jerry Harper, is appealing his conviction on the basis that Creamer was exercising free speech, the same as those who burn the American flag. Creamer also pleaded guilty in 1971 to an attempt to possess marijuana.
Signs at the Wednesday rally touted hemp as a good source of paper, fuel, food, paint, varnish and medicine. The gathering cheered and applauded when Creamer touted marijuana but scorned other drugs. "IF MARIJUANA is not enough for you, you need to seek professional help," he said. He criticized Douglas County Dist. Atty. Jim Flory for "trying to make a name for himself on zero tolerance of drugs." He also said that Lawrence police had overlooked three crimes surrounding a recent racial incident at Kansas University. Those crimes were alcohol abuse, abuse of women and crimes by whites against blacks, he said. In an interview, Creamer said he plans to carry on his campaign with $1,500 - $1,200 to file for office and $300 for 50,000 fliers.
"I HAVE name recognition, but I don't know if I'm famous or infamous," he said. He said he had a "soft-vice coalition". of supporters that includes those who use marijuana, alcohol and tobacco. In addition, he has support from women (he is for abortion rights) and that of low-income people (he worked his way off welfare), he said. He said more older people who use marijuana would have attended the rally but they were afraid of TV cameras. Creamer, who describes himself as a house husband with six children, said he vowed on Sept. 5 that he would gain the legalization of marijuana within one year.
During Earth Week, there was much talk about "saving the environment," but several speakers aptly pointed out that what we actually were talking about was saving the human race. Even if the legalization of marijuana did have economical and environmental benefits - which is still highly in question - those benefits would be more than offset by the human toll that drugs are taking on the world's population.
Without getting into a detailed argument of whether marijuana leads its users to other illegal drugs, it seems clear that legalizing marijuana certainly wouldn't encourage people to stay away from other drugs, which is what the nation is emphasizang. Even if smoking marijuana is no less harmful that drinking alcohol, there is no reason to legalize yet another way for Americans to intoxicate themselves and perhaps indulge to the point of ruining not only their own lives but perhaps those of other family members. Many would argue that existing laws against marijuana use should be more vigorously enforced. A demand for tougher enforcement may, indeed, be the result of the highprofile campaign those advocating legal marijuana have chosen to wage. They may have been better off leaving the matter alone.
There is little chance that "Hemp Tour" will result in the legalization of marijuana. They may have come up with some clever reasons why such a move would benefit the U.S., but the scales are still heavily tipped to the other side.
Creamer was arrested Sept. 5 after he smoked marijuana in front of a police officer to protest President Bush's drug policy. Creamer, who believes marijuana should be decrimlnalized, made his protest after Bush anuounced the drug policy to a national television audience.
He was convicted April 25 of the misdemeanor count of possessing marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Besides the jail term, Paddock ordered Creamer to pay court costs. The judge said he would consider a motion for parole in 60 days. Creamer told reporters before the hearing that he would refuse any probation term involving drug testing. He said he also would refuse to pay fines, but would work off fines and court costs by performing community service work.
SPEAKING to the judge before the sentence was announced, Creamer explained his protest. ..... I have abandoned my own welfare by my actions in hopes of addressing a much greater welfare - the welfare of the state and its people," Creamer said, reading from a prepared statement. "A law that people do not believe in, a law that people do not obey, cannot be considered a good law." Creamer told Paddock that marijuana is not a harmful drug. Creamer offered statistics showing that marijuana causes fewer deaths than alcohol, tobacco and even aspirin. He pleaded with Paddock -- whom he referred to at a pro-marijuana rally last month in Lawrence as "Judge 'Padlock' Paddock" - to make a statement in favor of marijuana decriminalization by handing down a light sentence. "I REALIZE that your honor does not make the law, and cannot change the law," he said, "but it is within your power to adjust the penalties of a crime, and I humbly ask the court to align truth, logic and justice in this matter."
As he was walking to jail, Creamer said he wasn't surprised by the sentence. "I had always figured I might spend 100 days in jail," he said. Creamer, a self-described house-husband, and his wife have six children, ranging in age from 8 to 13. Mrs. Creamer said the family would be able to cope without her husband. "I feel like as a family, we were prepared," she said, adding that the Creamers had a family meeting recently to discuss the possible results of the sentencing. "We have lots of friends who were supportive," she said.
Creamer lost about 20 pounds during the fast and is weak, Mrs. Creamer said. Doctors regularly have been checking on Creamer and told him that when his body mass was reduced to a certain point he would be force fed, she said. Creamer, 43, is serving a six-month sentence. He was arrested last September for smoking marijuana in the law enforcement center as a protest of laws against marijuana usage. Creamer favors decriminalization of marijuana.
Mrs. Creamer said people who support her husband have formed a "hunger chain" to keep the protest alive by volunteering to fast a day on behalf of the cause. A rally featuring speakers and musicians is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. today at the gazebo in South Park here to show support for Creamer and a change in marijuana laws.
CREAMER SAID he plans to lobby for the decriminalization of marijuana and perhaps run what he called an "I told yoü so" campaign for U.S. Congress in 1992. In two years, he said, he believes the nation's war on drugs will be "exposed" as an unproductive and unconstitutional policy. Along with his marijuana law protest, Creamer said, he will lobby for changes in the penal system. "There's an attitude that especially some people have that you're here to be punished, that you're scum," he said. "Nobody even claims this is rehabilitation. It's debilitation."
Creamer, who got himself arrested after watching President Bush announce his anti-drug policy, has argued that marijuana is not as harmful as other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and even alcohol and tobacco. He believes lawmakers could decriminallze marijuana, tax the drug and use the revenue to help eradicate hard drugs. Creamer campaigned this year on a pro-marijuana platform as he sought the Democratic nomination for the 2nd District seat In Congress. Incumbent Jim Slattery, D-Kan., won the Aug. 7 primary by an overwhelming margin. Slattery also prevailed in the Nov. 6 general election. Creamer ran the campaign from his jail cell after May 23, when Douglas County District Judge James Paddock sentenced him to the six-month term. On May 25, jail officials announced that Creamer had begun a fast to protest marijuana laws. The fast ended 21 days later. Creamer lost 20 pounds during the strike, but has since gained back the weight -- and more. "He called last night and said the clothes he wore in didn't fit anymore and he needed something bigger in the waist," Mrs. Creamer said Wednesday.
ON JULY 23, Creamer rejected an offer from Paddock for a two-year probation term. He told Paddock he would rather serve the rest of his sentence than abide by the terms of a probation agreement, which included regular visits to a probation officer and random drug screenings. Creamer said his only regret about the jail term was that he stayed "poossibly longer than I should have." When asked what he missed the most, Creamer said: "Good food -- pizza, steaks." Creamer, who had seen his children five times since he was sentenced, said he also missed his family. Still, he said, "I don't consider it a punishment for me. I consider it punishment for the Douglas County taxpayers who spent $10,000 to keep me here."