Ashcroft's Errant Hammer

Ashcroft's Errant Hammer
Posted by CN Staff on September 13, 2003 at 14:45:33 PT
Source: Los Angeles Times 
The gumshoes of the Justice Department must love Tommy Chong, the aging comedian/actor who until recently had a business making expensive blown-glass bongs. That's bongs, not bombs. Chong was sentenced Thursday to nine months in federal prison for sending one of those art-glass smoking devices across state lines. Unlike terror suspects or bomb makers, Chong was easy to find (a home in Pacific Palisades and a business in Gardena) and posed no threat of violence. 
The same goes for the smokers and growers of medical marijuana in California, many of them slowed down by AIDS or cancer or even confined to wheelchairs. The state's voters approved medical marijuana use in 1996. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft makes a credible case that some drug abusers wrap themselves in the cloak of "medical" use and that sellers of paraphernalia aid the abuse. Even so, that doesn't justify a heavy-handed federal law enforcement campaign against Chong and other small fry. Chong most recently had a recurring role on Fox TV's "That '70s Show." With former partner Cheech Marin, he made a handful of silly movies including 1978's "Up in Smoke," and cut numerous Cheech and Chong comedy records of social comment and dope humor. Too bad Chong, 65, evidently didn't know when to leave the past behind him. Snipped:Complete Article: Los Angeles Times (CA) Published: September 13, 2003Copyright: 2003 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Articles:Washington Cracks Down on Tommy Chong Chong Gets Nine Months Chong's Hopes May Be Up In Smoke 
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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on September 15, 2003 at 15:25:52 PT:
It Seems to Me... 
If the Prosecution Can Appeal Ed Rosenthal's Sentence, then Tommy Chong ought to be able to appeal his sentence. The sentencing process is separate from the conviction. But will he want to? Any legal minds like Paul Peterson know whether it's possible? 
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Comment #10 posted by E_Johnson on September 15, 2003 at 11:35:56 PT
You can't appeal a guilty plea
As far as I have heard, you sign away your rights to appeal when you sign a plea agreement, unless special consideration is made, such as in the case of Todd McCormick, where the man went down fighting even during his plea. I believe Todd McCormick got his right to appeal on medical necessity as part of his plea agreement, did he not? I think that normally, you can't appeal a guilty plea or anything that comes out of it.But one thing we could do is alert the news media and the ACLU to the fact that here we have a case of a prosecutor saying in court that this man needs to do prison time because "his films are still available".I bet if he had gone to trial and lost, then the implied criminalization of Constitutionally-protected movies during his sentencing could have been grounds for some kind of appeal.Does anyone know? I'm just guessing from what I've seen.
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Comment #9 posted by Max Flowers on September 15, 2003 at 10:52:02 PT
Demand and obtain transcripts
We need to obtain transcripts of the proceedings in which this miscarriage of justice occurred. If E_Johnson is right and Chong's film work of the past was used as part of the consideration in his sentence, and that is clear from the transcript, there are very strong grounds for an appeal I would say. In other words, the conviction could get tossed out. Judges are supposed to be held to the strictest of standards about this type of thing.Someone please get hold of the transcript and post it here.MF
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Comment #8 posted by E_Johnson on September 15, 2003 at 10:14:32 PT
Good for Ron Mann
His right to make films is in danger here too. 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on September 15, 2003 at 08:28:22 PT
News Brief - - Globe and Mail
Filmmaker Mann Lends Support To Chong
 By Liam LaceyMonday, September 15, 2003 - Page A11 One pot-friendly Canadian film celebrity has offered his support for another, as Toronto director Ron Mann urged authorities to free Tommy Chong, the veteran Edmonton-born comedian who was sentenced last week to nine months in United States federal jail for selling marijuana pipes over the Internet.Before the Toronto Film Festival screening of his new film, Go Further, on Saturday, Mr. Mann said Mr. Chong was being targeted by the government because of his status as a cult figure among marijuana smokers.
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Comment #6 posted by E_Johnson on September 14, 2003 at 20:40:07 PT
Here's my letter
Dear editors,I am shocked that the LA Times missed the most critical aspect of the Tommy Chong case. During the sentencing, the prosecutor and the judge clearly admitted to the court in no uncertain terms that they took Chong's past pro-pot movies into account in determining his prison time.Selling bongs over the Internet is illegal, but the right to make pro-pot movies without criminal sanction is protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of this great nation.If Karen Houghton, the federal prosecutor in the Chong case, wants to make "glamorizing drugs" into an actual crime with criminal penalties, then I suggest that she go to Congress and try it the honest way, rather than using the back door of the sentencing phase of a plea bargain to rip the First Amendment to bits.
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on September 14, 2003 at 09:20:12 PT
events for Kucinich
Monday, September 158:30 am
Oakland, California
Event: Interview
Location: KTVU Fox Affiliate, 2 Jack London Square, Oakland, CA
Interviewer: Ross McGowan10 – 11 am
Oakland, California
Event: Press Conference and Public Rally on Prop 54
Location: Laney College, 900 Fallon Street, Oakland, CA 415-834-5740
Coordinator: Lora O’Connor 415-215-9353 cell
download flyer - pdfThursday, September 187:30 – 8:30 pm
Washington, D.C.
Event: Rally - People Have the Power 
with Ralph Nader and Patti Smith
Location: Metropolitan African Methodist Church
Coordinator: Matthew Zawisky 202-277-9563
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on September 14, 2003 at 07:54:36 PT
Check This Out
Saudi Arabia Beheads Marijuana Smuggler September 14, 2003RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi drug trafficker was beheaded Sunday, a Ministry of Interior statement said.  Dhaher bin Thamer al-Shimry was convicted of smuggling marijuana into the kingdom, the statement said. Al-Shimry was beheaded in the eastern province of Hafr al-Baten, bringing the number of beheadings in the kingdom this year to 41, most of them drug traffickers. At least 49 people were beheaded last year. This conservative country follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of drug trafficking, murder, rape and armed robbery are executed. Beheadings are carried out with a sword in public. 
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Comment #3 posted by Jose Melendez on September 14, 2003 at 07:12:36 PT
poison legal, just not pot
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Comment #2 posted by Kegan on September 14, 2003 at 00:41:07 PT
Hmm...... they invade Afghanistan and Iraq.Then they bust people for sellign glassware.Bush and his cronies must really hate SAND.
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Comment #1 posted by Petard on September 13, 2003 at 15:24:13 PT
What a relief
They have Chong in prison. Good thing they got the serial rapist mentioned in the billboard stories and that sniper in another area of the country, not to mention having caught Saddam and Osama. No, wait a minute. That's right. Those violent criminals are still out and about. Gee and just when I was feeling so much safer not having to worry about getting a sliver of glass in my finger while smoking from a broken bowl. Well, maybe those violent criminals will open up a website selling smoking devices and then they'll get caught. Those Feds are so smart that way, wait till they settle down, open a business, pay taxes, and then grab them in the middle of the night.
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