NORML: Free Tommy Chong!

NORML: Free Tommy Chong!
Posted by CN Staff on October 22, 2003 at 23:42:20 PT
By Jordon Smith
Source: Austin Chronicle 
At press time, comedian Tommy Chong is in his third week in federal prison in California, where he's serving a nine-month sentence after pleading guilty to selling drug paraphernalia over the Internet. Chong was popped in February as part of the federal government's much-hyped paraphernalia sting, code-named Operation Pipe Dreams. While selling drug paraphernalia is technically illegal, the decision on whether to pursue bong sellers as criminals has long been left to the discretion of local law enforcement agencies.
OPD operations were based in Iowa and Pennsylvania -- two states with a reputation for considering paraphernalia peddling a serious crime -- and Chong was trapped in the OPD net after sending a hand-blown glass bong to Beaver Falls, Pa.While two previous Pipe Dreams defendants pled guilty to similar charges, each was sentenced only to six months of house arrest; so far, of the 50 Pipe Dreams defendants, Chong is the only one who has been sent to jail (see "Will Chong's Freedom Go up in Smoke?," Sept. 26). Chong and his supporters say the comedian's sentence is unreasonably harsh and claim that prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney for Pennsylvania's western district, used the pot-toking character that Chong has played for 30 years as evidence that the real-life Chong undermines drug-law enforcement. On Sept. 17, attorney Stanton Levenson filed an appeal of Chong's sentence with the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, claiming that the government relied on "improper evidence" when sentencing Chong. "Apparently they have an inability to separate fact from fiction," Levenson told the Chronicle. Further, Levenson said that during the sentencing hearing, Judge Arthur Schwab "extracted a promise" from Chong that he wouldn't "use this experience" in any of his future "entertainment enterprises" -- a pledge that Levenson said is likely a violation of Chong's free-speech rights. Levenson is also asking that Schwab release Chong on bail while the 3rd Circuit considers his appeal. Schwab is expected to rule on the motion some time next week. Meanwhile, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has kicked off a "Free Tommy Chong" campaign and, along with Chong's wife Shelby, are asking that Chong's supporters drop him a line. "He's going to be getting a ton of mail," said NORML Director Allen St. Pierre. To join the letter train, address mail to: Tommy Kin Chong, Inmate No. 07798-068, Taft CI, Unit A No. 4B, PO Box 7001, Taft, CA 93268 Source: Austin Chronicle (TX)Author: Jordon SmithPublished: October 24, 2003Copyright: 2003 Austin Chronicle Corp.Contact: louis auschron.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML's Taking One Big Hit Chong's Freedom Go Up in Smoke? To Appeal Prison Sentence
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on October 28, 2003 at 20:47:23 PT
News Brief: Associated Press
Judge: Chong Will Await Appeal in JailOctober 28, 2003 Pittsburgh (AP) Actor Tommy Chong will stay in prison while he appeals his sentence for conspiracy to sell drug paraphernalia.A federal judge in Pittsburgh ruled that there was no substantial question of law and a reversal of the sentence was unlikely.The 65-year-old actor best known for his portrayal of a drug-addled ne'er-do-well on screen pleaded guilty this spring to conspiracy and was sentenced to nine months in prison.He's been in a California prison since October 8th.Prosecutors say Chong used his celebrity to promote his business with mail orders for bongs and other drug paraphernalia.Agents seized thousands of bongs and pipes when they raided his business, Nice Dreams Enterprises.
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Comment #5 posted by mayan on October 23, 2003 at 17:26:36 PT
13th step...
Thanks for the poll! We're gaining ground. Keep voting, folks!Current numbers... Should we have Pro Medical Marijuana laws in Indiana?Yes 202 votes - 47.09% No 222 votes - 51.75% Undecided 5 votes - 1.17%
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Comment #4 posted by Arthropod on October 23, 2003 at 11:04:03 PT:
The good Reverend
Anyone know if the Rev. on the forums is our own GCW?
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Comment #3 posted by 13th step on October 23, 2003 at 08:46:34 PT
a poll to vote in, kids... far we're losing, c'mon & vote on it!Should we have Pro Medical Marijuana laws in Indiana?
Yes 		133 	41.69%
No 		181 	56.74%
Undecided 		5 	1.57%
Total: 	319 votes 	100%
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Comment #2 posted by BigDawg on October 23, 2003 at 05:28:49 PT
It's a shame this had to happen
But what about the stats that say 24% of Canadian households have weapons and only 6% of pot bust households have them? Bad things happen in a drug bust... because of the inherent problems brought about by prohibition. But they are still less likely to encounter a gun in a drug bust than a domestic squabble.
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Comment #1 posted by Kegan on October 23, 2003 at 05:02:42 PT
In The Toronto Star
Gang battle erupts over pot
Bullets flying everywhere, police sayElderly couple just missed being shot MILLAR
STAFF REPORTERToronto's latest homicide victim was shot to death in a gun battle between rival gangs during a robbery attempt on a marijuana-growing operation, police say.
Staff Inspector Gary Ellis, head of Toronto's homicide squad, described the 22-year-old victim as a "soldier" in a gang and said he was killed while trying to protect a marijuana crop growing in a house on Wellpark Blvd. in the Finch Ave. and McCowan Rd. area of Scarborough. The name of the victim is being withheld until his relatives are notified in China. The shooting occurred at 7 a.m. Sunday when members of one gang confronted five men from a rival group who had set off an alarm while trying to break into a house that was being used to grow marijuana. "Eight protectors showed up," Ellis said. "As soon as they arrived on the scene they were blasted by gunfire." 
The gang members, carrying guns, clubs and machetes, staged what Ellis described as a war in the middle of a residential street. He said bullets were flying everywhere, the walls of homes across the street were penetrated and an elderly couple narrowly missed being shot. "This is an organized crime gang war," Ellis said during a news conference yesterday at police headquarters. A 21-year-old man was also wounded in the battle. He was shot twice in the head and is recovering in hospital. "This is a very dangerous situation," Ellis said. "We are concerned it's going to erupt into a cycle of violence where we will end up with many people killed on our streets." Ellis said police have met with a wall of silence while trying to probe the slaying. Investigators have no idea which gangs are involved or whether they have the real names of the two people who were shot, he added. The slaying is Toronto's 44th of the year. At this time last year there were 38 homicides. Police are asking anyone with information about the slaying to call 416-808-7395 or 416-808-7411.
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