If Richard Davis has his way, he'll be at the center of the
Trial Of The Century in Arizona.
Davis, a Hemp activist and owner/operator of the Traveling U.S.A.
Hemp Museum, was arrested at the 1996 Super
bowl on three counts of sale of cannabis
and one count of possession for sale. What makes this case unusual is
that at the time of his arrest, Davis held a valid Cannabis Dealer's License
issued by the state of Arizona. In response to what he deems an illegal
arrest and seizure of goods (Davis' truck containing the Hemp Museum was
confiscated), Davis is challenging the constitutionality
of the case against him.
It all began
in November of 1995, when Davis received information from Arizona
(National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), about Judge
John R. Barclays' ruling in the Peter Wilson
case (November 1, 1995), in which the
charges against Mr. Wilson for possession of Cannabis were dismissed
because he held a Cannabis Dealers License.
Judge Barclay ruled that taxing a citizen
for a license and stamps, then putting him in Jail for using it was
double jeopardy, against the Constitution of
the U.S. through the Fourteenth Amendment.
28, 1995 Richard Davis went to the Arizona Department of Revenue,
filled out the forms, and paid $100.00
for the Cannabis Dealers License. He also
bought Six Hundred and Seventy Six dollars ($676.00) worth of Arizona
Cannabis Tax Stamps. These Luxury Tax Stamps
are similar to Tobacco Tax Stamps
in that they are to be affixed to the product when it is sold.
On Friday, December
5 1995, Davis and other activists holding Cannabis Dealers
Licenses, held a press conference in front
of the Arizona Department of Revenue,
Phoenix Arizona to announce the opening of the R.M.Davis Cannabis, Hemp
Company. The objective of the company was to sell educational material
that would impact the general public. They showed the press and public
their licenses, the Museum of Cannabis, Hemp Uses and History and their
Cannabis Flowers (Buds), packaged in a variety of ways. All Cannabis
Flowers were stamped with the appropriate Arizona Department of Revenue
Tax Stamps as required by law.
1995 the R.M. Davis Cannabis Hemp Company proceeded to get a business
address in Tempe Arizona, register its trade name with the Arizona
Department of State and secure a Transaction
Privilege Tax License, which is
required by any business in the State of Arizona.
In January 1996 Davis and his
Traveling Hemp Museum, were invited to spend the fourteen (14), days prior
to the Super Bowl on the Arizona State University
Campus and received a license to sell goods on Campus during that period.
because of the confusion surrounding Judge Barclays' ruling, Davis decided
a test case using the license to sell, and not merely possessing Cannabis,
was necessary. The R.M. Davis Cannabis Hemp Company continued creating
new packaging, and exchanging their educational baggies which contained
the sanctioned one gram sample of cannabis flowers to Adults over 18 years
of age. Sales were conducted at various locations on private
Property. No complaints were made about the activities during that time.
days prior to the 1996 Super Bowl, Detective T. Dickerson of the
Police, stated that he made an undercover
purchase of a three gram baggie, stamped
with three State of Arizona Cannabis Tax Stamps.
On the Saturday prior to the Super
Bowl, Davis again set up the Hemp Museum on University Avenue on
the ASU Campus. At about 1:00 PM, officers
from the city of Tempe arrested Davis
on the charge of three counts of sale of cannabis and one count of possession
After one postponement,
Davis waived the right to a preliminary hearing and was given an
arraignment date in Superior Court. On August 23, 1996, Davis
appeared in Superior Court along with his attorney,
Michael Walz. Davis was arraigned
and pleaded not guilty.
1996, Mr. Walz filed a motion to dismiss the charge against Davis
on the grounds that Mr. Davis had a
Cannabis Dealer's License and had complied
with the Luxury Tax Code. Title
42 of the Luxury Tax Code, states that a "dealer"is not immune from prosecution
under Title 13. However , under Title 42, "dealer" means any person
in this state who manufactures, produces, ships, transports or imports
into this state or in any manner acquires or possesses Cannabis or
a controlled substance upon which the taxes have not been paid as required
by the article.
Davis paid the taxes on the Cannabis items he sold , he is NOT
then a "DEALER" and therefore should not
be subject to prosecution under this code 42.
Mr. Walz maintains that Davis followed the rules and is therefore,
a Law Abiding Citizen.
On Friday, December
20, Richard Davis returned to Arizona and appeared before
the Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
Brian Ishikawa who heard oral arguments
on the State's motions to strike defenses and witnesses. The State, represented
Prosecutor David Flader, seeks to suppress
evidence that Davis complied with
the luxury tax law making him an Arizona licensed cannabis
dealer. The state also seeks to suppress witnesses
to affirmatively testify to Davis's
character for truthfulness. Since the judge will not allow Mr. Waltz
to show this evidence, .the alternative is
for Richard to try his case himself
so he can bring the evidence up under his first amendment right to
freedom of speech. When Richard returned to
Arizona for the alleged trial
(which was once again postponed), he told
Judge Ishikawas that he intended to offer
his own defense. Mr. Flader had offered Davis a penalty of probation if
he were to plead guilty to possession of Cannabis
for sale. Mr. Walz told Mr. Flader
that Richard wants to present his story to a jury.
On June 5, after
beginning to prepare his own defense, based on his constitutional
rights that he had done nothing that was a crime and that he
was therefore innocent, Davis returned to Arizona,
only to learn his trial was postponed
until July 16. Davis then began researching and preparing his own defense.
He has been offered assistance by Chris
Clay, who has just completed a
challenge to the cannabis laws in Canada, and Clay's attorney, Alan
On June 24,
David Flader called Davis to comment on his motion Re: the constitutional
challenge. Flader said the motion was very thorough. On July
10, David Flader again phoned Richard to obtain
a list of the material to be presented
about the museum as evidence. The motion, to allow evidence present
at time of this arrest to be used, was made
earlier by Davis. On July 16, Davis
appeared before Judge Ishikawa in Superior Court in Mesa, Arizona. At
that time the Judge requested that David Flader,
the prosecutor, respond to Mr. Davis's motion to dismiss all charges on
constitutional grounds. (i.e.
see constitutional challenge), by July 23. Mr. Davis has until July
31 to reply to Mr. Flader's response.
pointed out to the court that Court TV is interested in covering
the event and requested that a trial date be
set. Judge Ishikawa set Aug. 6 to hear oral arguments on the constitutional
challenge between Flader and Davis, who
is acting as his own attorney assisted by Phoenix attorney Michael Walz.
Jury selection is set to begin August 7. For a comprehensive chronological
account of the events in this case, click
If you are
interested in contributing Ideas for the Hemp Museum or Financial Support
"NO MATTER HOW LITTLE" to help with Mr. Davis's ongoing Legal
Expenses, and his Traveling Teaching U.S.A. Hemp Museum, you may fax him
at 602-254-9310, or leave a
message, or fax Mr. Walz at 602-254-9310.