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( archives / 1989 )

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9/6/89 / Lawrence Journal World

Bush kicks off anti-drug war

1) Local officials praise drug plan... 2) Anti-drug soldiers praise plan... 3) Kansans support Bush's drug war...
4) Law enforcement to get bulk of funds... 5) Congress worries about paying the bill...
6) Dealers: Plan unlikely to stem flow of drugs... 7) Addicts: Focus should be on treatment...
8) Nancy Reagan: 'Just Say No' works... 9) Officials: No more quick fixes...


9/6/89 / University Daily Kansan / Rich Cornell

Man smokes pot at Police Station

Father protests war on drugs, gets arrested

Mark Creamer had to try hard to be arrested for smoking marijuana. He walked up to the Lawrence Police Department reception desk in the Douglas County Law Enforcement Center at 9:30 last night and lit a marijuana cigarette. An officer asked Creamer how she could help him. "Hi. Yeah, I'm smoking marijuana." Creamer responded. "What do you want me to do about it?" the officer asked. Creamer told the officer he was breaking the law and thought he should be arrested. "Do you want to do it someplace else?" the officer said. "Are you trying to get in trouble?" When she realized that Creamer would not leave, the officer went to get more police. About five minutes passed before three police officers returned to question and arrest Creamer for suspicion of possession of an illegal substance. "I hope they arrest me soon." Creamer said. "I'm getting awfully stoned." Creamer was arrested on two Counts of possession of a illegal substance and disorderly conduct. The disorderly conduct charge was later dropped. Creamer was being held on a $500 bond, said Chris Mulvenon, Lawrence police spokesman. Creamer said he decided yesterday that if President Bush did not legalize marijuna during last night's speech, he was going to smoke marijuana in front of the old courthouse at Eleventh and Massachusetts streets until he was arrested. He said he wanted to protest Bush's four-point strategy to fight the nation's drug problem. "There's going to be a lot of people dying because of the war on drugs," Creamer said. Bush should distinguish marijuana from hard drugs, Creamer said. If marijuana were legalized, he said, lives would be saved because sales could be regulated. Users would not be tempted by pushers offering both marijuana and hard drugs like cocaine and crack. Creamer, 42, is a sculptor and househusband. He is married and has six children. He said he started smoking marijuana in 1967.

While outside the courthouse, Creamer was not arrested for smoking marijuana even though he called 911 from a restaurant, telling the dispatcher that someone was standing on a sidewalk smoking marijuana. He then returned to the sidewalk. A Lawrence policeman twice drove past Creamer on Massachusetts Street, waving when Creamer whistled for his attention. Creamer stood outside the courthouse about 40 minutes before going inside the Law Enforcement Center. "This is a typical situation in Lawrence. Kansas," Creamer said. "Everybody smokes as much as they want and nobody cares." Creamer said the government should concentrate its efforts on hard drug users and sellers. "One thing I want to do is show they don't have enough money to get everyone who does pot." he said.

9/7/89 / THE WITCHITA EAGLE

Lawrence pot smoker begs to be arrested

Associated Press

"I feel very strongly that marijuana should be legalized. If you're going to win the war on drugs, you have to start with some credible and realistic stance."

Mark R. Creamer, protester

LAWRENCE - A Lawrence man who accuses President Bush of a "bad attitude" in his war on drugs walked into police headquarters and lit up what he said was a marijuana cigarette, blowing smoke at a dispatcher. Mark R. Creamer, 42, who favors legalization of marijuana, said he had to beg to be arrested Tuesday night during a protest timed to coincide with Bush's televised announcement of his $7.9 billion war on drugs. "I went up to the information window in the lobby and lit up," Creamer said. "I blew the smoke through the little hole in the window and asked the lady If she knew what it was. She asked how she could help me, and I asked if it was illegal to smoke marijuana." "She said it was and asked me what I wanted her to do," he said. "I told her to arrest me, but she told me I had better leave." However, she called two other officers, and Creamer was arrested. Creamer said that earlier he dialed the 911 emergency number and reported a person blatantly smoking marijuana on the sidewalk in front of the Douglas County Courthouse. He then went to the location and up. He said an officer drove past him several times but would not stop despite his whistles and gestures. That shows the hypocrisy, he said They didnít want to bust me. I had to beg to get busted.

After spending the night in jail, Creamer was charged Wednesday with a felony count of possessing marijuana and released on $5,000 recognizance bond. Creamer told Douglas County District Judge Jean Shepherd he had been convicted 18 years ago of possessing marijuana. Creamer was charged with a fel≠ony because of that previous convic≠tion. The minimum penalty on con≠viction would be one to two years in prison, the maximum five to 10. After his release, Creamer said he lit up because he was tired of pre≠tending not to be a marijuana smok≠er and because he wanted to make a statement about the war against drugs.

9/8/89 / University Daily Kansan / Op-Ed

Creamer draws first blood by mocking war on drugs

The soldiers for the war on drugs were supposed to march into the nation Tuesday night after President Bush's speech, but they were merely limping in Lawrence. Mark Creamer single-handedly made a laughingstock of the whole deal. He couldn't get arrested on a bet. This guy smoked marijuana in front of the Douglas County Courthouse. He smoked it inside the Law Enforcement Center. He says that he even called 911 to alert the police to the situation. And what happened? Police waved to him. An officer asked him whether he was trying to get in trouble. Yes. He was trying to get in trouble. It was as if a soldier on the other side of the war on drugs was begging to surrender, and Bush's guys were too busy petting the White House puppies to notice. That shouldn't happen. Unfortunately, it does. How many other anti-drug soldiers such as pot smokers, acid droppers, heroin shooters and even underage beer drinkers are slipping past the front lines and ducking into the foxholes for another hit? Before we can have a war on drugs, we need a war on apathy. The police can't sit around waiting for drug abusers to come to them, but if the abusers do, the police shouldn't make them take a number before they arrest them. Maybe the police don't think drug abuse is a serious crime. They report that during the first half of 1989, crime in Lawrence decreased 21 percent from the first half of 1988. Therefore, they must be doing some good work, or at least not the kind of work they did while fumbling the Creamer case. Creamer's message was that the police weren't able to handle all the drug abusers in Lawrence, so pot should be made legal. Bush's message was that money should be thrown at law enforcement agencies to combat drug abusers. Obviously, money alone won't solve the problem.

David Stewart for the editorial board

9/13/89 / Lawrence Journal-World / Ric Anderson

Drug law protester buys tax stamps

A Lawrence man who is waging a personal battle against President Bush's proposed war on drugs bought $100 worth of drug tax stamps Tuesday from the state Department of Revenue to demonstrate how the government cou1d fund the drug crackdown by legalizing marijuana. "I want people to know that there's money there and that the state should be getting it instead of the drug dealers," said Mark Creamer, 42, who last week got himself arrested for smoking marijuana in protest of Bush's proposed policies. Creamer said that in Bush's address to the nation last week, the president said 14.5 million Americans use drugs. Creamer argued that if marijuana were legalized and every smoker was required to buy tax stamps to possess the drug, the government would have $1.5 billion to combat the use of rock cocaine and other hard drugs.

FOR HIS $100, Creamer said he received 28 stamps. That is the minimum amount of stamps that can be purchased under a Kansas law that requires people who possess drugs to affix tax stamps to those drugs. The drug tax requirement is designed to give prosecutors another tool to use against drug-law violators. The Douglas County district attorney's office hds filed the charge of failing to obtain a tax stamp -- which has been upheld by the state Supreme Court -- against a number of violators. Creamer said he purchased the stamps only to "further my campaign and advertise my cause" and is planning to give them to people as souvenirs.

CREAMER'S campaign began Sept. 5, when he smoked a marijuana cigarette in the lobby outside the Lawrence Police Department in a deliberate attempt to be arrested. Officers obliged, and Creamer last Wednesday was charged in Douglas County District Court with a felony count of possessing marijuana. Today, Creamer said his protest stemmed from his belief that marijuana is a "soft drug and is far less dangerous than drugs such as cocaine, heroin and PCP. For that matter, Creamer said, marijuana leads to fewer deaths than tobacco and alcohol. He believes decriminalizing marijuana and eventually legalizing and taxing it, would allow law enforcement officials to concentrate their efforts on wiping out "hard" drugs.

PURCHASING the stamps does not allow Creamer to sell or possess marijuana. If he does so, he could face new criminal charges. Creamer is free on a $5,000 recognizance bond awaiting an Oct. 30 preliminary hearing on the current charges. He and his attorney, Jerry Harper of Lawrence, are fighting conditions of the bond which require Creamer to submit to random urine tests and obtain a drug alcohol evaluation. Harper said the conditions threaten his client's constitutional right to a fair trial. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for 4 p.m. today.

9/14/89 / University Daily Kansan / Op-Ed / David Stewart - Editor

Police do care about drug problem

On Friday, I wrote an editorial criticizing the Lawrence police for the way they handled the Mark Creamer case. You remember Creamer. He's the guy who walked around Sept. 5 smoking pot in conspicuous places such as the Law Enforcement Center at 11th and Massachusetts streets. My editorial was harsh. I called the Lawrence police apathetic. I said they didn't take the drug problem very seriously. But allow me to present their side of the story as it was told to me recently by Chris Mulvenon, Lawrence police spokesman. Mulvenon asked me not to talk much more about the Creamer case, but a couple of things Mulvenon said might make what happened that night more clear. First of all, Creamer said he called 911 and the police that he was smoking pot. Police haven't verified that yet. Creamer also went into the Law Enforcement Center and spoke to an officer who asked him "Are you trying to get in trouble?" Mulvenon said that the officer didn't know what was going on and was afraid of turning the whole incident into a media circus, which is what happened. A crowd of media people, including a Kansan reporter and photographer, were gathered around Creamer the whole time.

Basically, the Lawrence police wanted to keep the whole thing low-key, Mulvenon said. And it was that low-key attitude that I misinterpreted as apathy. I met one of the drug officers, and he locked his eyes on mine as he shook my hand. It wasn't an apathetic look. It was the kind of look you naturally would give some college kid if you were laying your life on the line every day to fight against rampant drug use and he said in print that you weren't doing your job well. So of course I can understand the concerns of the police. They've got a tough job, and they are taking it seriously.

And as I've said, all the facts aren't in on the Creamer case. I saw him milling around the court area on the first floor of the Law Enforcement Center while I was on my way to meet Mulvenon. He still has a long fight ahead of him, and the Lawrence police still have some questions they need to answer about that night. I still think, however, that there is a general apathy about the drug issue. After I left the courthouse, I flipped on the televison in ray apartment and happened to catch the end of President Bush's speech to children about drugs. It was on Cable News Network. During the speech, CNN cut to their cameras at a junior high school in Miami, Fla. A few students were watching the Bush speech intensely, and then one student leaned over to another, and the other broke out laughing. CNN immediately cut back to the president. Bush's message was that drugs are no joke. The children obviously didn't think so.

But those are children. What about Creamer? Is what he did a joke; was he making light of the drug problem? Possibly, but in his eyes, and the eyes of many others, the problem is that marijuana isn't legal, not that people are using it. But as long as drugs are not legal, the Lawrence police, in conjunction with county and state agencies, will fight against them as seriously as they can. I could see it in their eyes.

David Stewart is a Tulsa, Okla., senior majoring in journalism.


9/19/89 / The Topeka Capital-Journal / Matt Truell - Associated Press Writer

Marijuana crusade lonely

Mark Creamer of Lawrence was careful to reserve the south steps of the Statehouse for three hours Monday for a demonstration. He didn't want to break any more laws. Because he was the only one who showed up, there were no speeches or chants, but Creamer remains undaunted. Creamer, 42, is waging is own, lonely campaign to legalize marijuana, He says on behalf of the estimated 14 million Americans who use it. "Millions of people support me," Creamer said as he sat on the steps, holding two signs that read "Marijuana - Legal and Taxed" and "Peace with Honor." The last sign referred to President Bush's announced war on drugs. His T-shirt said "Political Prisoner." "I'm getting a lot of support from a lot of people." he said, adding that others are afraid to show themselves. "They're afraid for their jobs, he said. "They work, go to school, they don't want to be investigated. But they smoke marijuana and they want it to be legal."

Creamer began making his case shortly after Bush's televised announcement of his $8 billion plan to combat drugs on Sept. 6. He was arrested for smoking a marijuana cigarette at the Lawrence Judicial and Law Enforcement Center. "I didn't want to be a hypocrite any longer," he said. "I felt I had to do what I thought was right." Creamer, a father of six, claims that marijuana is as intoxicating as drinking two beers and less harmful than alcohol. "There's been a war on drugs for 20 years." he said. Creamer himself is a veteran. In 1971, he was arrested in Lawrence for attempted possession of marijuana. He presently faces a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, because a second drug conviction would be a felony. He said he is prepared to go to prison.

"It would hurt my family more than it would hurt me," he said. Creamer, with close-cropped hair, rejects the suggestion that he is a hold-over from 1960s. He's not a middle-aged radical hippy, he said. "Bush is living in the 1950s," he contended. "I'm ready to go into the '90s. I'm established, I own my own home. I'm a productive member of society." Creamer has lived in Lawrence since 1966, he said. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in social psychology and was a plumbing contractor until he was injured. He said he is now a house husband and sculptor.


9/19/89 / The Topeka Capital-Journal / Op-Ed / In God We Trust

Smoke dreams vs. reality

Lawrence resident Mark Creamer made a big stir around Douglas and Shawnee counties last week by ostentatiously smoking his home-rolled marijuana "joints" in front of authorities and pleading to be arrested; by buying a $100 narcotics tax stamp and talking a lot about how pot should be legalized, taxed - and the money used to fight hard drugs. Well, that's one alternative, all right.

But Dr. Eric A. Voth, medical director of a chemical dependency treatment center in Topeka and chairman of the Scientific Committee for the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth, feels otherwise.

Voth says careful medical research has shown that in the' short term pot smoking causes poor concentration, poor coordination and affects short-term memory. In the long term, it reinforces the effects on concentration, causes permanent memory loss, affects motivation and thus performance, decreases male hormones in men and lowers the birth rate in women, affects the menstrual cycle, damages the lungs and causes "precancerous changes" in the body. Also, he adds, it is addictive and carries a bigger risk of cancer than tobacco.

Creamer says it's harmless. Creamer also says he's been smoking pot for 20 years. Voth hasn't. We'll go with Voth.

9/21/1989 / The Topeka Capital-Journal / Op-Ed

Protester's timing, cause are all wrong

Civil disobedience doesn't come in cans. If it did, it might come with a surgeon general's warning. "Warning: Unless properly used, this product will cause you and the people around you severe irritation and may dause loss of liberty." It's a caveat that Mark Creamer could have used. The 42-year-old Lawrence man has been on a one-man campaign of civil disobedience to draw attention to his belief that marijuana should be legalized. A lot of people apparently agree with him that, despite well-founded medical evidence to the contrary, marijuana is no worse on its user than an innocent ration of late-evening scotch. Besides, he says, if authorities can forget about misdemeanor marijuana cases for a while, they can concentrate on the drugs which do the most harm. "Millions of people support me," he testifies to reporters.

Maybe he's right. But where are they? Fact is, Creamer's campaign has been such a yawner that he's had trouble getting the police interested enough to arrest him. In the aftermath of President Bush's big drug speech Sept. 5, Creamer alerted certain news media that he'd be openly smoking a marijuana cigarette outside the Lawrence judicial center. When he realized his prank was going nowhere, he apparently called 911 to report his little indiscretion. The cops just continued to wave and roll on by. Perhaps feeling that there's never a cop outside the police station when you need one, he walked inside and lit up for the receptionist, blowing his stenchy smoke through the porthole in the lobby glass. His bizarre brand of civil disobedience made good local television that night and has been the subject of several commentaries such as this one. But not even Andy Warhol would endorse such fleeting attention as an even trade for up to 10 years in prison or a $10,000 fine, which Creamer could now face for a marijuana conviction (his second, and therefore a felony).

Of course, any judge who's not smoking the stuff would know better than to make a martyr of Creamer with protracted prison term. But itís puzzling nonethe≠less why Creamer feels so strong≠ly about his hobby that heís willing to risk losing a home and a family of six children to defend it. Perhaps such a risk would be worthy if his actions had stirred the masses, instead of a few sto≠ry-hungry reporters. But his rally last Monday at the Capitol was a forlorn affair. Why? Maybe it's because most of us, except for the most active pro-lifers, have become rather rusty at performing civil disobedience.

The first rule of civil disobedience is that the authors of it, and indeed anyone who participates in it, must believe that the subject of it is morally correct, almost beyond a reasonable doubt. One doesn't skip work, miss "thirtysomething" or make a spectacle of oneself for causes that don't stir some amount of fury. Pro-lifers have little problem surviving this test; after all, they define their target as the senseless killing of babies. Marijuana smokers can't claim as emotional a cause, and many just can't bring themselves to be self-righteous about their right to blow their minds. What's more, they're not willing to subject themselves to arrest or public ridicule for something they're not sure about.

Secondly, the subject of civil disobedience must also be capable of luring mass empathy. With marijuana, you'd better forget it; especially in the Reagan-Bush era, in which so many young up-and-comers are so cocksure of their morality. It is this new wave of young moralistic soldiers now beginning to take power -- not the new Supreme Court or the economy that will be Reagan's greatest legacy. And Creamer is fighting it.

Thirdly, the subject of civil disobedience must simply be worth the consequences. And marijuana is clearly not. Not any more than any other hobby. One might enjoy model trains, but they're hardly worth going to the slammer. Better to take up collecting Bob Uecker baseball cards. One might argue, quite idealistically, that anything you consider morally correct (or even permissible) is worth fighting for, and that you're a hypocrite for not speaking out. Maybe. But -- and it doesn't feel good to say this -- in the adult world, being a hypocrite helps pay the bills. The risks of speaking out about anything you believe simply must be weighed. Call it a "cost-benefit analysis."

Lastly, civil disobedience must be well-orchestrated to maximize its attention-getting powers. That's why we picket on busy streets, not behind a barn. Anymore, successful civil disobedience almost has to have a Madison Avenue approach: advertisers already know that the competition for public attention is unmercifully fierce. And unpolished campaigps tend to get lost in the shuffle of big-city diversions.

If Creamer is going to risk his liberty, family and reputation in a campaign to legalize marijuana, he had better be completely sure itís a worthy cause, that a good bit of the public agrees with him and that his campaign is co≠herent. Otherwise, heís blowing smoke.

Michael Ryan is The Capital-≠Journal legal affairs writer.

11/10/89 / The Leavenworth Times / Connie Parish - Times Staff Writer

Lawrence man brings drug protest here

The activist in Lawrence who dared officials to jail him for pub!icly smoking a manjuana joint after President Bush's anti-drug speech in September was in Leavenworth Thursday to put "one drop of rain on (drug czar William Bennett's) parade." Mark Creamer started his one-man crusade to legalize marijuana on the sidewalk on the outer perimeter of the federal penitentiary during Bennett's tour of the prison. He said he was later instructed by police to get off federal property, so he took his hand-lettered placard that read "Peace with honor; Marijuana Amnesty" across the street.

Creamer said he has amassed some "quiet support" in his efforts to legalize drugs after visiting several colleges across the state. But he said few are bold enough to join him publicly, and few will even write checks to his legal defense fund, though some will give him cash. He said about 60 people did show up for a protest rally in Topeka on Halloween. Creamer said he isn't ashamed or embarrassed about smoking marijuana, which he considers "a softer drug than alcohol," and he didn't want to be a hypocrite about it any more.

He said he figured he would be the only protester when Bennett was at the Leavenworth penitentiary, but he decided he wanted to take his message to the drug czar anyway. Creamer said he saw Bennett in his official car as he whisked away from the prison on his way to Kansas City, Mo., to address a convention of Future Farmers of America. However, he said he thought Bennett managed to "purposely ignore" him and his placard.

12/19/89 / Lawrence Journal-World / Ric Anderson

Charge reduced in marijuana case

A Lawrence resident who's fighting a one-man battle for the legalization of marijuana won a legal skirmish on Monday when a Douglas County district judge dismissed a felony charge that had been filed against him. Judge James Paddock dismissed the charge before a scheduled preliminary hearing in the case of Mark Creamer, 42, 312 Indiana. Because that was the only charge filed against Creamer, the case was dismissed and the preliminary hearing was not held.

The legal cease-fire was short-lived, however, because Paddock then granted a motion by Douglas County Assistant Dist. Atty. Rick Trapp allowing the state to file an amended complaint Monday afternoon charging Creamer with a misdemeanor count of possessing marijuana. Creamer was arrested Sept. 5 after he walked into the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center and lit a marijuana cigarette in front of a Lawrence police officer.

Creamer says his protest stems from his belief that marijuana is a "soft" drug and is far less dangerous than drugs such as cocaine, heroin and PCP. He says marijuana leads to fewer deaths than tobacco and alcohol. Furthermore, he believes decriminalizing marijuana use, and eventually legalizing and taxing it, would allow law enforcement officials to concentrate their efforts on wiping out "hard" drugs.

Creamer has protested marijuana laws on the steps of the state capitol building and in Lawrence; Leavenworth and Manhattan. In the original complaint against Creamer, prosecutors claimed he previously had been convicted of possessing the drug. Under Kansas statutes, possessing marijuana is a misdemeanor charge but a second charge of possessing marijuana is treated as a felony.

THE LEGAL maneuvering began Monday when Trapp changed the language of the original complaint to state that Creamer had a prior conviction of attempted possession of marijuana. The charge remained a felony. Court records show that Creamer was found guilty of attempted possession of the drug in September 1971. Because Creamer's previous conviction was for attempted possession and not straight possession, his attorney, Jerry Harper, argued that his client could not be charged with a felony.

Paddock agreed, saying the statute "looks pretty clear to me," and then granted Trapp's motion to file the amended misdemeanor charge. Because of Monday's action, Creamer no longer faces imprisonment. The maximum penalty for marijuana possession, a Class A misdemeanor, is a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Creamer's first appearance on the amended complaint will be at 11 a.m. Jan. 24 before Douglas County District Judge Jean Shepherd.

AFTER leaving the courtroom, Creamer said he was relieved by Paddock's ruling. Still, he said, he's prepared to go to jail for the cause. "I've already decided that I will do as much community service as they want, but I will not pay a fine," he said, adding that he wouldn't pay a fine because he feels he would be feeding the government crackdown on marijuana.