A 43-year-old Lawrence man who was convicted today of marijuana possession said he's still convinced he was justified in breaking the law the night he deliberately got himself arrested by smoking marijuana in the law enforcement center.
The man, Mark Creamer, was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana in a short trial before Douglas County District Judge James Paddock.
Speaking with reporters after he left the courtroom, Creamer said the conviction didn't change his belief that his protest was worthwhile.
"I think I've accomplished more than I thought I was going to accomplish," he said. "Obviously, there are a lot of reporters here, so I have a voice on this issue."
CREAMER today testified that he was arrested Sept. 5, 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 23. 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 belief about the solution to the drug problem."
Douglas County Dist. Atty. 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 attorneys' arguments, Paddock immediately handed down the guilty verdict.
Harper then filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the statutes whose numbers are listed in the complaint against Creamer were repealed by legislators in May 1989.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 error when they filed the complaint but rather charged Creamer with statutes that did not exist on Sept. 5, 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.