Chapter 4 - Twenty Years To Life

It was about a year before my trial date on that nickel bag came due. I was so high all the time that I didn't think a lot about it. My lawyer said they were charging me with something unusual.

Law enforcement agencies were successful in taking down John Sinclair (Also born in Flint, Michigan) by viewing marijuana as a narcotic. In July 1969 Sinclair was sentenced to prison for 9 to 10 years for possession of two marijuana cigarettes. Two-and-a-half years of legal and political battles culminated at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor on December 10, 1971, when 15,000 people attended the Free John Now Rally headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Just three days later, the Michigan Supreme Court, on its own motion, ordered Sinclair released and later overturned his conviction, upholding his contention that Michigan's marijuana statutes were unconstitutional and void.

I was being charged with "Sale of an illegal narcotic". John's possession charge got him ten years. My charge was "sales" which carried a 20 year minimum and a possibility of life if convicted. Yes, I said the charges carried a twenty to life sentence if convicted of selling a teaspoon of marijuana. As I said, they had me on a second sale. If I found a way to beat the first charge, they were going to prosecute me on the second one. I was looking at as much as two life sentences if they pushed it. I believe this law was intended for opium, heroin, or cocaine, etc. but not marijuana as it is not considered a narcotic.

I was under the influence of too many drugs to fully appreciate what the state of Michigan was trying to do to me. On the first day of my trial, I was still thinking I was invincible. As the proceedings began and I heard the evidence being presented against me, my invincibility began to dissipate. The judge asked me if I understood the seriousness of the charges against me. He said I was facing twenty years to life if convicted. He also made note of a second charge pending. It was about then I began to see the case was going to be of a more serious nature than I had anticipated. I was feeling more than a bit uncomfortable while the jury selection was taking place.

Obviously, they wanted me off their streets, so I began to formulate my own plan to accomplish this. As the day wore on, the drugs wore off. What seemed like many hours later the judge said "It's getting late in the day and I'm going to adjourn court till nine A.M. tomorrow morning". He called me to the bench and said I was still on bond and therefore free to go till nine A.M. the following day. Unlike John Sinclair, I had no plans to sit in prison and wait for laws to change, with or without my help.

I went home and made my plans to leave town. I stopped across the street at the pool hall to say good bye to Samson, who ran the place. When I told him I was going he emptied the pool tables and pinball machines and give me all the cash he could scrap up. He hugged my neck and told me to be careful.

It was late evening when Gypsy Jack pulled up in his hearse. Jack was a living legend among bikers. He wore a ring in his nose before I did. (Something unheard of back then) He was once featured on a TV show called "Real People". I told Jack I was leaving and he asked me if I wanted to climb into the back of his hearse with his old lady. (Not his wife, Peggy) I declined and we said our goodbyes.

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